Posts Tagged ‘Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame’

Carlisle Indians Continue to be Snubbed

March 11, 2011

The 2011 ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame came out this week with Lone Star Dietz’s name removed. This is yet another snub to a Carlisle Indian School player. Dietz has also been snubbed by the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame as a demonstration of their ingratitude. After all, where would the Rose Bowl be without Dietz? Nothing the College Football Hall of Fame does surprises me anymore. A few years ago, when Dietz should have been inducted, the selection committee ignored the votes for the seven coaches on that year’s ballot and selected two coaches who were not on the ballot because they were not eligible for induction due to the fact that they were still actively coaching. So, the ironically named Honors Committee, in an Animal Farm-like move, changed the rules to make these two eligible and selected them even though no voter received a ballot with their names on it. Unfortunately, Dietz isn’t the only Carlisle Indian to be snubbed by a Hall of Fame.

The Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame has failed to induct Olympian Frank Mt. Pleasant into even a regional chapter is astounding. If Mt. Pleasant’s football and track accomplishments at Carlisle aren’t enough, consider what he did elsewhere in Pennsylvania. That he has already been inducted in both the Dickinson College and the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Halls of Fame indicates that he accomplished quite a bit while at each of those institutions on top of what he did at Carlisle. Frank is no stranger to being snubbed, as Walter Camp, who only gave him Honorable Mention on his 1907 All America team for being not rugged enough because he was too injured to play in the Chicago game, the Indians’ 11th game of the season. I’m not holding my breath for the PA Sports Hall of Fame doing the right thing anymore than I am for the College Football HoF. But these aren’t the only Carlisle Indians deserving of honors.

The College Football Hall of Fame does not have a category for athletic trainers but it does have a catch-all category called contributor, though. Wall ace Denny pioneered the role of athletic trainer first as a student at the Indian school and, later, as a member of the staff, and for decades after that with Pop Warner at Stanford and Temple. Before Denny started assisting Pop Warner with the care of the players’ bodies, there was no such thing as an athletic trainer as we know it. But Wallace Denny changed all that and should be remembered for it.

If Carlisle Indian School had a large alumni organization and could guarantee large ticket sales for induction events, these men might have a chance, but they don’t and little money would be raised by their selection.

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Indians Dissed by Halls of Fame

May 4, 2009

Last week was a bad week for Indian athletes. Both players and coaches continue to be overlooked for honors they deserve. Lone Star Dietz was passed over again for Induction into the College Football Hall of Fame as a coach. He was inducted into the prestigious Helms Foundation years ago but the College Football Hall of Fame didn’t even think he was eligible until a few years ago. It wasn’t until Washington State super-alum Greg Witter and I did some research and got Dietz’s win-loss record corrected that they put his name on the ballot. By then he had been dead for almost 40 years and very few people are still alive that remember him. But he’s not the only Indian the College Football Hall of Fame has dissed or the only Hall of Fame to diss an Indian athlete.

Last week the West Shore Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame inducted its new class. Frank Mt. Pleasant, who I nominated last year, wasn’t picked. It’s hard to imagine how the chapter local to his greatest achievements could overlook one of the greatest of the Carlisle Indians, but they did. Fortunately, the West Shore Chapter isn’t the only option. He was already inducted into the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Hall of Fame for his work there as a coach after his playing days were over. Maybe their chapter will induct him.

Recently, questions have come in about the Haskell Institute star John Levi. He was considered to be as good as Jim Thorpe in every aspect of the game but kicking. Thorpe himself considered Levi to be the best athlete he had ever seen. Unfortunately for John, Carlisle Indian School did not exist when he came of age. The mantle of Indian sports leadership passed to Haskell Institute in Lawrence, KS after Carlisle closed. Although Levi and his Haskell teammates had great records under Coach Richard Hanley, they seldom played in front of the eastern media. That kept John Levi from being named to the major All America teams. He was named to minor ones but that wasn’t enough to get him elected to the Hall of Fame. J

im Thorpe wasn’t the only Indian to lead the nation in scoring (198 points in 1912); John Levi outscored everyone in both 1923 and 1924 (149 and 112 points, respectively). His teammate, Mayes McLain outdid him and everyone else in 1926 with 259 points. Barry Sanders holds the all-time single-season scoring record with 234 points. By my math, he scored 25 fewer points than Mayes McLain. Why doesn’t McLain hold the record?

Legendary coach Charles Moran isn’t in either although he had a great record, including the legendary 1921 defeat of Harvard by his Centre College Praying Colonels. Maybe it’s because he coached Mike Balenti and Victor “Choc” Kelley in his first year at Texas A & M.