Posts Tagged ‘New York Giants’

Jim Thorpe and Mazes

April 18, 2023

I received a question today about Jim Thorpe and mazes. I knew nothing about him doing anything with, to, or for mazes so I did a little research. I uncovered nothing about him and mazes but did stumble across a challenge to his being a free agent when he signed with the New York Giants in 1913.

Joe S. Jackson, a reporter for The Washington Post, wrote, “An interesting feature of the Thorpe case is the statement that the player’s reservation was properly made by Fayetteville, in 1910, and has since been continued, so that the Indian is not a free agent, and can be secured only by purchase .”

The same day, January 31, 1913, announced that the Beaumont club, of the Texas League, had a reserve contract claim on Thorpe. “[A]ccording to Manager Wheeler of that club, Beaumont’s franchise was purchased from Oklahoma City last year, and it is claimed Thorpe was among the players reserved by that club.” Wheeler wired Secretary of the National Commission to protect Beaumont’s claim to Thorpe.Note that the reserve clause was in effect at that time and would be until it was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1875.

Also that day, an article dateline Oklahoma City reported that the former secretary of the Oklahoma City ball club had tried to no avail to sign Thorpe in 1911 because he “refused to play professional ball” and was touring the state with an amateur team.

An article datelined Carlisle, Pa. (probably written by Warner’s PR department) claimed that the Giants had purchased Thorpe’s release from the Fayetteville baseball club and that he would be paid $4,500 a year.

Jim Thorpe Movie

May 8, 2018

For years—decades actually—film makers and wannabe film makers have flowed through Cumberland County Historical Society on an almost monthly basis to learn more about Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indians. They leave convinced more than ample material exists for a feature film, surely enough for a TV movie. But little tangible has resulted. Many of them visit Wardecker’s Menswear, formerly Blumenthal’s, where Freddie Wardecker gives them a tour through the artifacts in his store, regales them with stories about the Carlisle players and teams, and shows them the log in which each player’s name is recorded, under which a list of his purchases follows. Invariably, he suggests they contact Robert W. Wheeler, author of the definitive Jim Thorpe biography.

I sometimes get contacted by these folks, often wanting answers to questions they have on the teams and players. Often, they require some research on my part to answer. Recently, I’ve received questions about Thorpe’s time with the New York football Giants. (He played for them in 1925.) The reason why those questions were coming now was answered last night, when a press release announced that a biopic about Jim Thorpe was to be made and one of the backers was the Giants’ owner.

Variety reported that Angelina Jolie, in partnership with Escape Artists Productions’ Todd Black and Steve Tisch, would be producing Bright Path: The Jim Thorpe Story. This production will break new ground by having a Native American actor play a Native American title character in a major motion picture. Martin Sensmeier, whose parents are Tlingit and Koyukon-Athabascan, is perhaps best known for his role in The Magnificent Seven remake alongside Denzel Washington, Chris Pratt, Ethan Hawke, and Vincent D’Onofrio.

With backing this film has, it seems certain, as certain as anything is in Hollywood, this film will actually be produced.

Variety article:

100th Anniversary of Jim Thorpe’s First At Bat

April 8, 2013

Sunday marks another milestone in sports history: Jim Thorpe’s first major league at bat. A year to the day after being selected for the 1912 U. S. Olympic team, on Monday, April 14, 1913, Jim Thorpe made his major league debut by pinch hitting for spitballer Charles Monroe “Jeff” Tesreau in the bottom of the ninth inning in a 3 to 2 loss to the Giants’ cross-town rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers. He made an out.

However, he started out spring training much better. In a 6-inning split-squad game played at the Giants’ camp in Marlin Springs, Texas on February 28, he hit a three-run homer and singled off the afore-mentioned Jeff Tesreau. On March 5, Frank Demaree struck out Thorpe on a “wide bender” for Thorpe’s first strike out in spring training. Perhaps, this was the origin of the belief that Jim couldn’t hit a curve ball.

On March 12, he hit a long home run off Christy Matthewson, one of First Five inductees into baseball’s hall of fame in Cooperstown. But his fielding was considered weak and his hitting inconsistent. A March 14 wire service item quoted McGraw: “Muggsy of Gotham opines that Injun Jim Thorpe is one of the rawest ever. Raw red skin!” Pop Warner suggested that a year or two of seasoning in the minor leagues under skillful coaching would have helped Thorpe immensely. Instead, McGraw kept him with the Big League team to capitalize on his popularity.

Newspapers reported that John McGraw planned to cut short Thorpe’s $6,000 per year contract after the Giants made their first western road trip. McGraw may not have realized he had not signed Thorpe to a standard National League contract at this time. Pop Warner authored the non-standard contract, which went into effect on April 10, 1913, the Giants’ opening day that year. But that is another story.

Thorpe in Giant uniform 1913


Thorpe Was Also A Hockey Player

July 19, 2012

A January 25, 1913 newspaper article, that I happened upon while searching for something else, discussed something about Jim Thorpe that I hadn’t heard before and was probably lost to history. It is well known that the Cincinnati Reds wanted to sign Thorpe to a professional baseball contract about that time. What isn’t widely known is that another professional team in a different league in a different sport in a different country also wanted Thorpe and, if the reporter was correct, was negotiating with him to sign a contract.

Pop Warner wrote in some detail how he negotiated an exceptionally good contract for Thorpe with John McGraw of the New York Giants baseball team and how the other major league teams wanted him but baseball was the only sport he mentioned in that context. However, the Middletown Daily Times-Press suggested that he might be turning pro in another sport in the article under the headline, “Jim Thorpe May Take Up Professional Hockey.” It reported that Thorpe was negotiating at that time with the Tecumseh team of Toronto. “When questioned W. J. Bellingham, president of the Tecumseh Hockey Club, practically admitted that he was negotiating with Thorpe, but declined to enter into particulars.” Regarding Thorpe’s position, “It is reported that Thorpe will not turn professional unless he receives an ironbound contract calling for a handsome stipend.”

A few factors influenced the outcome, or lack thereof, of these negotiations: 1) They hadn’t seen Thorpe play hockey. He was probably very good, but hiring him sight unseen implies that they were, perhaps, most interested in him as a drawing card, 2) A hockey team of that day couldn’t compete salary-wise with a major league baseball team that was willing to pay Thorpe an exorbitant salary, and 3).Hockey season wouldn’t start until the late fall and Thorpe wanted money sooner so he could get married.