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American Indians and our Country’s Pasttime

Before I became a runner, my one true love was baseball. It was always there for me (well from April through October). The sport also brought my dad and I closer together with our weekly sessions of catch in the backyard. While baseball is not at that point anymore for me (mainly due to the fact that the games are becoming increasingly long), I still try to pay attention as much as I can to the players and their storylines and stats.

As we have seen in my blog thus far, I talk quite frequently about American Indians in sports. Although I try to make mention of it, the fact is there still are not that many in professional sports at the present time. Returning to baseball, there are three American Indian ballplayers in the majors. Three people out of the 30 25-man rosters. Yet, two are at the very forefront of the news because they play for the two premier teams in the Majors and they are on opposite sides of the field. There is Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox, a Navajo from Oregon and Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees, born on the Winnebago Resevation in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Joba Chamberlain

Jacoby Ellsbury

Like I said, these two are starting players on two of the premier teams so when they face off, which occasionally happens, it marks one of the only times where an American Indian pitcher and hitter face each other in the Majors in the history of baseball. Besides these two, there is also Kyle Lohse of the St. Louis Cardinals. He broke in to the Majors in 2001, yet does not really attract any attention to himself. All of these guys chalk up their attitudes and work habits to how they were brought up in their heritage.

It is hard to go back in time and really find other American Indians who have played in the Majors over the last century. Everyone knows Jim Thorpe, voted the greatest athlete of the first half of the twentieth century. There was also Charles Albert Bender, a Chippewa, and John Tortes Meyer, from the Cahuilla band of Mission Indians. Interestingly, but not surprisingly, both their nicknames were Chief. I think this is where the correlation to our studies comes about. Like I said, the nicknames were not surprises, more just characterizations of the stereotypes that persisted. It seems as though from the nickname, they were known more for their heritage than their talents. Luckily, in this day and age, Ellsbury, Chamberlain, and Lohse do not go by the nickname. While they use their heritage as a means to be role models to younger American Indians, they can rise above the stereotypes based on their talents and hard work.

Courtesy of : Indian Country Today and http://www.newsbank.com/readex/newsletters.cfm?newsletter=20&article=43

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