NR Digital

Letters

by Charles C. W. Cooke

Baseball Legends
An item in “The Week” (August 11) makes fun, with good reason, of Major League Baseball’s new “ambassador for inclusion” of “people of diversity.” The item states that “there’s nothing new about identity politics in baseball; the Cleveland Indians’ nickname pays tribute to a popular early-20th-century player from the Penobscot tribe.” The general point may be true; the particular point about the Indians is not.

The idea that the Indians’ nickname was intended to honor Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot Indian who played baseball briefly in Cleveland before problems with alcohol ended his career, is a feel-good myth promoted for decades in Indians media guides. A Cleveland Plain Dealer reporter, Bob Dolgan, looked into the matter a few years ago, finding no mention of Sockalexis in any 1915 newspaper reports about the selection of the new team name (a name that happily replaced “Spiders”).

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