May 5, 1884 Charles Albert Bender, commonly called Chief, was born in Crow Wing Country, Minnesota. He would go on to be the only Native American baseball player to be inducted into the hall of fame after his 1953 induction. When people think of discrimination in baseball they think of Jackie Robinson, and the 1960s, but time has passed and it is forgotten that there was a time when another group of non-whites tried to get into the MLB.
Now, you might be wondering, why should I care about this guy? Well, he was one of the early greats in the sport. He was so important to the game that his influence is still felt today. Bender was credited with inventing the pitch commonly known as the slider.
Bender’s carrier lasted 16 years and within that time he found himself winning 212 games and accumulated 1,711 strikeouts. Now, 212 games might not be a big deal, but he only lost 127 games throughout his carrier. He also had the opportunity to pitch in five consecutive World Series tournaments when he was with the Philadelphia Athletics (1910-1914). After the 1914 season he went to the Baltimore Terrapins in the Federal league, and in 1916 he went to the Philadelphia Phillies where he remained until 1917.
He played and coached for the minors until 1925 when he played in one game for the Chicago White Sox. Manager Eddie Collins decided to pull a prank on the Red Sox. Bender, who was 42 at the time did not do well. He let two runs score and did not even finish the half of the inning. The rest of his life was dedicated to the sport as he started working with the Athletics at the age of 61 as a pitcher for batting practice, and would later become the pitching coach.
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