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Zoneranger's Whozis #236


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Cleveland fans take note:

Although it was discovered in the 1960s that the first Native American in the major leagues was James Madison Toy, who played in the American Association in 1887 and 1890, the first man known and treated as an American Indian was Louis Sockalexis. Born on October 24, 1871 on the Penobscot Indian reservation outside of Old Town, Maine, Sockalexis displayed incredible athletic talent in his youth. Tales abounded of his great throwing arm, with descriptions of him hurling a baseball over 600 feet across the Penobscot River. He went on to become a star pitcher and outfielder at both Holy Cross and Notre Dame, where life and legend continued to intertwine. One of his colossal home runs was estimated at 600 feet, while another reportedly broke a fourth-story window in the Brown University chapel. He stole six bases in one game; pitched three no-hitters; and one of his outfield throws, measured by two Harvard professors, traveled 414 feet on the fly.

In 1915, two years after the death of Sockalexis, the Cleveland ballclub (then nicknamed the "Naps," after their long-time player-manager Napoleon Lajoie) changed its nickname to the "Indians." Over the years, the club and major league baseball have claimed the name was changed to honor the memory of Sockalexis.

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