PENOBSCOT LOUIS SOCKALEXIS BECOMES FIRST MAJOR LEAGUE BALLPLAYER RECOGNIZED AS A NATIVE AMERICAN
Born October 24, 1871, on the Penobscot reservation near Old Town, Maine, Sockalexis displayed incredible athletic talent in his youth, reputedly throwing a baseball across the Penobscot River. Louis was a star pitcher & outfielder at both Holy Cross & Notre Dame, hitting long home runs, stealing 6 bases in a game; and pitching 3 no-hitters. In 1897, he was signed by the Cleveland Spiders. Though the 1st Native American in the major leagues may have been catcher Jim Toy (American Association, 1887-90), the 1st man known to be American Indian was Sockalexis. He broke in hitting .338 with 8 triples & 16 stolen bases in his first 60 games. However, on July 4, 1897, inebriated at a party, he jumped from a 2nd-story window, injuring his ankle. His major league career ended in 1899 though he played minor league ball through 1907. Sockalexis moved back to the Penobscot reservation, teaching youth to play baseball. He died on October 24, 1913, in Burlington, Maine.
Source: “The Story of Louis Sockalexis,” The Baseball Reliquary, Inc. Retrieved 9/12/2021, http://www.baseballreliquary.org/story_of_sockalexis.htm Photo: Author unknown, circa 1894-97. Public Domain.