Fact or fiction?
Legendary truth or outrageous myth?
Discover the truth behind such stories as:
Is there any proof that Sockalexis was the model for Maine author Gilbert Patten’s fictional baseball hero, Frank Merriwell of Yale, while the Penobscot starred in the Maine summer Knox County League?
Could “Sock” have once literally “stolen” a 1-0 victory for his team by being walked, and then swiping second, third and home on three consecutive pitches?!
Did his father, Francis, tribal governor of the Penobscots from 1895-1896, make a Herculean canoe trip down the Penobscot River, down the Atlantic Ocean, to Washington, D.C. to find President Cleveland and get Cleveland’s help to prevent his son from leaving the reservation to play baseball at Holy Cross College?!
Did Sockalexis, at Holy Cross, once make a “lightning throw,” a throw so far and accurate that two Harvard professors measured the distance and declared it a world’s throwing record?… Could he have once stolen six bases in one game, running both for himself and an injured teammate?… Could he smash home runs so far against Brown University that these titanic blows smashed chapel and dormitory windows on campus?… Did he once swim across a creek to make a catch?!
Could Sockalexis’s mere presence, and the sensation it caused, have inspired the change of the Cleveland major league team’s nickname from “the Spiders” (in place since 1889) to “the Indians” in 1897?
Can we determine that Sockalexis would have been “one of the greats of the game,” as claimed by several stars of the era like Hall of Famers Hughie Jennings and John McGraw, by looking at a game-by- game study of his daily play with Cleveland, as compiled by Richard “Dixie” Tourangeau, member of the Society for American Baseball Research and author of “Play Ball!” calendars?
What is the one very obvious revenge factor (that no writer on Sockalexis has ever uncovered!) that might explain why Amos Rusie, the greatest and most feared pitcher of his day, so hotly issued the claim that “I’ll strike the damned Indian out” when he was to face Sockalexis at the Polo Grounds in New York…and then issued Sockalexis’s most famous home run on the very first pitch?!
Does James Madison Toy truly deserve the title of “first Native American to play major league baseball”? In the early 1960s Baseball Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen stripped Sockalexis of the title and anointed Toy, but read the evidence Allen based his decision upon and see if YOU feel Allen’s decree is justifiable.
The controversy continues to this day in Cleveland: Did a fan contest in 1915, with a fan writing specifically about wishing to honor Sockalexis, lead to the formal adoption of the nickname “Indians” for the Cleveland major league team? Delving into a mystery, that will probably never be solved, involving a biographer named Franklin Lewis, and unraveling a misconception about the process used to select the name, this book’s author proves, once and for, that Sockalexis forever deserves the honor of being the inspiration for the nickname and was, at the very least, specifically remembered in 1915 when the nickname was officially adopted!