The American Indian Integration of Baseball

By Jeffrey Powers-Beck | Go to book overview

Preface

In telling this story, the story of great athletes, many forgotten, who integrated professional baseball for American Indians, I must acknowledge my methods. I have not been trained as an ethnologist, anthropologist, or specialist in Native American studies. My training has been, rather, that of a literary historian with strong interests in baseball and American cultural diversity. As a member of the Society of American Baseball Research, I have begun my research with the materials that historians of baseball’s deadball era (1900–1919) generally prefer: early twentieth-century sports periodicals, newspaper stories and columns, printed interviews, published biographies, biographical dictionaries, the Spalding and Reach baseball guides, and the archives of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and of the Sporting News library. In addition to these sources, I have also found valuable information in the records (preserved in the National Archives and Records Administration) of American Indian boarding schools, especially Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania and Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas, and in the scrapbooks of the family members of several players – Elijah Pinnance and Louis Leroy. While I have attempted to contact family members of the players, I have found few living with memories of the playing days of these men, especially from 1897 to 1920. The result is that too often the voices of American Indians are underrepresented in the narrative and that references to Native players are often repeated from periodical accounts. Early twentieth-century sportswriters seldom reported with care the tribal affiliations of American Indian players. For example, it was quite common for a player to be labeled “Sioux” by sportswriters but very rare for a player to be said to be a Lakota Sioux from the Pine Ridge Reservation. In many cases, therefore, throughout the book, the reader will find that band affiliations cannot be given with precision. In such cases, my intention is not to misidentify or to slight any member of an Indian Nation but simply to provide the limited information that is available from imperfect sources.

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