Louis Sockalexis

The First Cleveland Indian

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About the Book

Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian from Maine, was one of the greatest college baseball stars of the 1890s. Following his days playing for Holy Cross and Notre Dame, he went directly into the major leagues with Cleveland’s National League team in 1897, becoming the first of his race to play in the majors and the first minority athlete to play in the National League.
This is a complete biography of Sockalexis, known during his playing days as “Chief of Sockem” and “Deerfoot of the Diamond.” For three months, Sockalexis batted well over .300, hit home runs, and made incredible throws from the outfield, but he found it difficult to adjust to playing in the major leagues. He often found himself the object of ridicule and hatred from sportswriters and fans in other cities. Sockalexis began drinking heavily and was suspended by the Cleveland team for playing while intoxicated. His alcoholism brought his career to an unfortunate and premature end in 1899, and he died in 1913 at the age of 42. Shortly after his death, Cleveland’s American League team was named the Indians and Chief Wahoo was adopted as its mascot, something that has sparked controversy in recent years and brought attention to Sockalexis once again.

About the Author(s)

David L. Fleitz is a web developer and database analyst who lives in Troy, Michigan. A longtime SABR member, he has written eight other books on baseball history.

Bibliographic Details

David L. Fleitz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 229
Bibliographic Info: 27 photos, appendices, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2002
pISBN: 978-0-7864-1383-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     vii

Introduction     1

1 Where the River Broadens Out     5

2 The College of the Holy Cross     20

3 From Worcester to Notre Dame     34

4 The National League     46

5 Tebeau’s Indians     54

6 “He’s the Stuff and He’s the People”     68

7 The Polo Grounds     82

8 Fall from Grace     95

9 The 1898 Season     110

10 Sitting the Bench     119

11 “The Sorriest Shell of a Team Ever Seen…”     129

12 “A Sorrowful Spectacle…”     142

13 Bender, Meyers, and Andrew Sockalexis     157

14 The End of the Line     168

15 Louis Sockalexis and the Cleveland Indians     180

16 Epilogue     192

Appendix 1: William J. Fox Letter     197

Appendix 2: Sockalexis Statistics     199

Notes     201

Bibliography     213

Index     217

Book Reviews & Awards

Finalist, Dave Moore Award—Elysian Fields Quarterly. Finalist, Seymour Medal—Society for American Baseball Research. Finalist, Casey Award—Spitball.
“well-researched, highly readable study…an interesting and detailed account…in creating this concise and accurate account of the career of Louis Sockalexis, Fleitz displays an inquisitive scholar’s refusal to accept old tales at face value, a diligent researcher’s willingness to seek out the facts in primary sources, and a skillful writer’s ability to clearly describe what actually happened…valuable work”—Nine; “more scholarly and complete [than the competition]…excellent illustrations…detailed endnotes”—Daily News; (Bowling Green, Kentucky), “the book tells an in-depth story of the life of a Penobscot Indian from Maine”—Frommer Sports Net; “Fleitz has researched and told the story of Sockalexis very well”—Harold Seymour.com.