Posts Tagged ‘Bill Dinneen’

1910: Chief

May 12, 2010

Today marks the centennial of Chief Bender’s one and only no-hitter. He beat Cleveland 4-0 (Cleveland was involved in both 1910 no hitters with Addie Joss winning in April) with 1903 World Series hero Bill Dinneen taking the loss. Dinneen had thrown his own no-hitter in 1905. Of the three major pitchers who were the centerpieces of the 1910-1914 Athletics dynasty (Eddie Plank, Jack Coombs being the others), only Bender tossed a no-no.

Charles Albert Bender was born in Minnesota in 1884. He was a Ojibwa tribal member who attended both Carlisle Indian School (before Jim Thorpe arrived) and Dickinson College, both in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. He seems to have been an OK student and was a gifted pitcher. In 1903 Connie Mack brought him to the Philadelphia A’s where he became the third pitcher and leading right-hander  behind southpaw aces Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell. He pitched in the 1905 World Series, taking both a win and a loss. The win was Philly’s only victory in the series. By 1910 he was well established as one of Philadelphia’s aces. He was also a Connie Mack favorite, who was generally chosen to pitch critical games. In 1910, he will start two World Series games, splitting them. In 1911, he will start three going 2-1. With Coombs disabled in 1913, Bender will be the ace and win two games in the series. In 1914, lost his only start in the Miracle Braves sweep.

With the advent of the Federal League in 1914,  Mack began dismantling his team. Bender jumped to the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League where he had a terrible year, going 4-16 giving up more hits than innings pitched. With the collapse of the Feds, Bender ended up back in Philadelphia, but this time with the National League Phillies. He went 15-9 with other good numbers too. He retired then, went into war work for World War I, then coached for the White Sox in the 1920s. He got into one game in 1925, giving up a run in one inning with a walk and a hit, then was through for good. He returned to The A’s and coached, scouted, and manged at the minor league level through 1950, when both he and Mack retired. In 1953 he was elected to the Hall of Fame and died the next year.

For his career, including the Federal League year, Bender was 210-128 (a .621 winning percentage) with 1711 strikeouts in 3017 innings,  712 walks, and an ERA of 2.46. In World Series play he pitched ten games going 6-4 with 64 hits,59 strikeouts, and 85.1 innings pitched. Certainly a good enough career.

In one way it’s an even better career. Because Bender was an American Indian he faced the standard racial prejudices of his day every time he took the mound. Phil Sheridan of “The only good indian is a dead indian” fame had only been dead for 15 years prior to Bender’s rookie campaign. He faced problems from the stands and from the opposing players. One symbol of it was his nickname, “Chief.” It was common in the period for any American Indian player to have that nickname and frequently it was meant derogatorily. Mack, sensitive to Bender’s problem and his initial feelings about the name, refered to him as “Albert”, his middle name. Bender seems to have at a point late in his career finally embraced the name (or at least quite despising it) and used it as a badge of honor against a hostile world. One of his favorite responses to heckling from the stands was to refer to the hecklers as “Foreigners.”

His teammates and most of the Philly fans liked him (Considering the way they treat their own players today, what happened to Philly fandom in the last 100 years???). He was considered a good teammate and friend, a player the other players liked to be around both on and off the job. Mack trusted him with scouting and developing minor league players after Bender’s retirement. It wasn’t easy being an American Indian in 1910, but among his friends, coaches, and teammates Bender was respected and liked.

By this point, he’s been almost forgotten. Unlike the black community’s embrace of Jackie Robinson, the American Indian Movement never picked up on him as someone to remember and that’s a real shame. They probably should have done so. He’s worth it as both ballplayer and man.

Best Possible Game 8

December 16, 2009

For 2 short periods the World Series wasn’t a best of seven series, but a best of nine. The World Series in 1903 was a best of nine and it happened again from 1919-1921. None of the Series’ went nine, but three did go eight.

A quick disclaimer. In 1912 game 2 was a tie and had to be replayed. The Series went the full schedule thus making game 7 the eighth game played. If I had wanted to be pedantic about it, I could have added the last game of 1912 to this list. I didn’t. It resides with the other game 7’s.

The best of the game 8’s is 1921. This was the first of three consecutive “Subway Series'” between the New York Giants and the New York Yankees. John McGraw’s Giants featured future Hall of Famers Frankie Frisch, Dave Bancroft, Ross Youngs, and George Kelly. Miller Huggins’ Yankees countered with Babe Ruth, Frank Baker, and Waite Hoyt. Ruth didn’t start game 8, but came in as a pinch hitter. The starting pitchers were lefty Art Nehf and Hoyt.

With one out in the top of the first, Bancroft walked,  Frisch made the 2nd out, Youngs also walked sending Bancroft to second base, where he came home on an error by Yankees shortstop Roger Peckenpaugh. It held up. Neft shut out the Yanks on 4 hits and 3 strikeouts, while walking five. Hoyt gave up only the unearned run while allowing 6 hits, walking 4, and striking out seven.

In the bottom of the 9th the Yankees tried to rally. Ruth pinch hit and grounded out.  Second baseman Aaron Ward walked, then Home Run Baker grounded to Frisch. The easy out was recorded at first, but Ward dashed toward third. A great throw caught him sliding in and the series ended with a double play.

Other game 8:

1903-Bill Dinneen pitched a 3 hit shutout to win the first World Series over Pittsburgh 3-0. The Red Sox got 2 runs in the fourth and tacked on one more in the sixth.

1919-this one was a blowout, the Reds scoring 4 runs in the first, one in the second, and coasting to a 10-5 victory. Of course this is the “Black Sox” series so not everything was on the up and up.