John Tortes “Chief” Meyers

A Baseball Biography

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About the Book

One of major league baseball’s first Native American stars, John Tortes “Chief” Meyers (1880–1971) was the hard-hitting, award-winning catcher for John McGraw’s New York Giants from 1908 to 1915 and later for the Brooklyn Dodgers. He appeared in four World Series and remains heralded for his role as the trusted battery mate of legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson. Unlike other Native American players who eschewed their tribal identities to escape prejudice, Meyers—a member of the Santa Rosa Band of the Cahuilla Tribe of California—remained proud of his heritage and became a tribal leader after his major league career. This first full biography explores John Tortes Meyers’s Cahuilla roots and early life, his year at Dartmouth College, his outstanding baseball career, his life after baseball, and his remarkable legacy.

About the Author(s)

William A. Young, SABR member, is an emeritus professor of religious studies at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, and the author of John Tortes “Chief” Meyers: A Baseball Biography (McFarland, 2012) and several books on the world’s religions. He lives in Columbia, Missouri.

Bibliographic Details

William A. Young
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 257
Bibliographic Info: 39 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2012
pISBN: 978-0-7864-6801-0
eISBN: 978-0-7864-9133-9
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Preface 1

Prologue: An Evening at Shea Stadium, 1965 5

One. Early Life and Beginning a Career in Baseball (1880–1905) 9

Two. Cahuilla Roots 22

Three. A Year at Dartmouth College and Three Years in the Minor Leagues (1905–1908) 32

Four. “Stranger in a Strange Land”: First Seasons with the New York Giants (1908–1910) 50

Five. Becoming a Star: The 1911 Season and World Series 78

Six. An MVP Year: The 1912 Season and World Series 104

Seven. Still a Star: The 1913 Season and World Series 134

Eight. Final Years in Baseball (1914–1920) 158

Nine. Life After Baseball (1920–1971) 188

Epilogue: Honors, Ongoing Challenges, and Legacy (1972–2011) 207

Chapter Notes 219

Bibliography 237

Index 245

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Larry Ritter Book Award—SABR
“an important book that shares the story of one of baseball’s leading players during the early twentieth century. It is thoroughly researched, including archival sources, interviews with Meyers’ surviving family members, and press coverage from his playing days. The book is an essential starting point for anyone interested in Meyers, and an important addition to the scholarship on Native American in sports, and baseball”—Sport in American History; “an excellent read”—The Columbia Daily Tribune; “well-researched and gracefully written”—Roundup Magazine.