American Indian Baseball Players

Every Major League Baseball Player who was an American Indian

On April 22, 1897 Louis Sockalexis became the first American Indian to become a Major League ballplayer with the National League Cleveland Spiders.

Six years later Chief Bender became the first American Indian in the American League and one of two (Zack Wheat is the other) American Indians enshrined in the National Baseball Hall of Fame to date.

The list below is — hopefully — a comprehensive list of former major league baseball players who were also verifiable full-blooded American Indians.

"The reason I went into baseball as a profession was that when I left school, baseball offered me the best opportunity both for money and achievement. I adopted it because I played baseball better than I could do anything else, because the life and the game appealed to me and because there was so little of racial prejudice in the game. There has been scarcely a trace of sentiment against me on account of birth. I have been treated the same as other men." - Chief Bender
American Indian Baseball Players

by Baseball Almanac

Player [Click for Stats / Teams]

Tribe(s)

First Game

Final Game

Louis Sockalexis

Penobscot

04-22-1897

05-13-1899

Bill Phyle

Lakota

09-17-1898

09-15-1906

Chief Bender

Ojibwe

04-20-1903

07-21-1925

Ed Pinnance

Ojibwe

09-14-1903

09-29-1903

Lou Bruce

Mohawk

06-22-1904

10-10-1904

Louis LeRoy

Seneca

09-22-1905

04-20-1910

Frank Jude

Ojibwe

07-09-1906

10-07-1906

Ed Summers

Kickapoo

04-16-1908

06-01-1912

Chief Meyers

Cahuilla

04-16-1909

10-04-1917

Chief Chouneau

Ojibwe

10-09-1910

10-09-1910

Paddy Mayes

Creek

06-11-1911

06-18-1911

Mike Balenti

Cheyenne

07-19-1911

09-22-1913

Frank Harter

Cherokee

08-31-1912

06-09-1914

Jim Thorpe

Fox & Sac

04-14-1913

09-25-1919

Chief Johnson

Winnebago

04-16-1913

09-30-1915

Ben Tincup

Cherokee

05-22-1914

09-15-1928

Jim Bluejacket

Cherokee

08-06-1914

07-16-1916

Mack Wheat

Cherokee

04-14-1915

06-06-1921

William Marriott

Cherokee

09-06-1917

04-28-1927

Virgil Cheeves

Cherokee

09-07-1920

05-13-1927

Jesse Petty

Cherokee

04-14-1921

09-28-1930

Chief Yellow Horse

Pawnee

04-15-1921

10-01-1922

Chief Youngblood

Choctaw

07-16-1922

07-31-1922

Ike Kahdot

Potowatomie

09-05-1922

09-21-1922

Homer Blankenship

Cherokee

09-06-1922

09-27-1928

Emmett Bowles

Potowatomie

09-12-1922

09-12-1922

Pryor McBee

Choctaw

05-22-1926

05-22-1926

Pepper Martin

Osage

04-16-1928

10-01-1944

Art Daney

Choctaw

05-25-1928

05-25-1928

Roy Johnson

Cherokee

04-18-1929

04-27-1938

Chief Hogsett

Cherokee

09-18-1929

06-03-1944

Bob Johnson

Cherokee

04-12-1933

09-23-1945

Euel Moore

Chickasaw

07-08-1934

07-26-1936

Rudy York

Cherokee

08-22-1934

09-20-1948

Vallie Eaves

Cherokee

09-12-1935

04-26-1942

Bob Neighbors

Cherokee

09-16-1939

09-30-1939

Allie Reynolds

Muscogee

09-17-1942

09-25-1954

Cal McLish

Choctaw

05-13-1944

07-14-1964

Charlie Cozart

Cherokee

04-17-1945

06-14-1945

Jess Pike

Creek

04-18-1946

05-18-1946

Pat Cooper

Choctaw

05-11-1946

09-06-1947

Jim Gladd

Cherokee

09-09-1946

09-29-1946

Jack Aker

Potowatomie

05-03-1964

09-27-1974

Gene Locklear

Lumbee

04-05-1973

10-02-1977

Dwight Lowry

Lumbee

04-03-1984

04-23-1988

Kyle Lohse

Nomlaki Wintun

06-22-2001

07-19-2016

Bobby Madritsch

Lakota

07-22-2004

04-06-2005

Jacoby Ellsbury

Navajo

06-30-200 7

Active

Joba Chamberlain Winnebago 08-07-200 7 07-01-2016

Ryan Helsley

Cherokee

04-16-2019

Active

Player [Click for Stats / Teams]

Tribe(s)

First Game

Final Game

American Indian Baseball Players | Research by Baseball Almanac, Inc.

Sources : Dictionary of North American Indians (Internet)
Sources : 60 Feet Six Inches by Todd Fuller (2002)
Sources : The Cultural Encyclopedia of Baseball (1999)
Sources : The Library of Congress (Internet)
Sources : James Locklear (Locklear / Lowry Publicist)
Sources : Richard Green (Tribal Historian Chickasaw Nation)
Sources : Rod Nelson (SABR Scouts Historian)
Sources : New York Times (Confirmation of recent [2004+] names)



There are fourteen former ballplayers who were either commonly called "chief" or simply nicknamed "chief" and in the Encyclopedia of North American Indians they wrote, "It is worth pointing out that while American Indian ballplayers were nearly always called 'Chief,' this nickname was used much less often among Indians themselves. John 'Chief' Meyers , for example, a Mission Indian who played against Bender , referred to him as Charlie ."

Did you know that the words King Gustav V of Sweden spoke in the 1912 Olympics — "You sir, are the greatest athlete in the world." — are inscribed on Jim Thorpe's rose granite sarcophagus?

1903 Fort Spokane Baseball Team

1908 Skitwish Boys Baseball Team

1912 Tulalip Indian School Baseball Team

1903 Fort Spokane Baseball Team

1908 Skitwish Boys Baseball Team

1912 Tulalip Indian School Baseball Team

Tribes have a LONG tradition of playing baseball, both on an off the reservation (as illustrated by some of the classic [pre-1913] photos seen above). Other players have had a fraction of Native American blood including, but not limited to: Gene Bearden , Johnny Bench , Howie Fox , Nippy Jones , Ernie Koy , Roy Meeker , Willie Stargell , Joseph Tipton , Jim Toy (possibly the first part-Indian player to make it to the Major Leagues), Thurman Tucker , Virgil Trucks , Zack Wheat & Early Wynn .

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