Chief Bender

Charles Albert "Chief" Bender (May 5, 1884[a 1] – May 22, 1954) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball during the 1910s and 1920s. In 1911, Bender tied a record by pitching three complete games in a single World Series. He finished his career with a win-loss record of 212-127, for a .625 winning percentage and a career 2.46 earned run average (ERA).

After his major league playing career, Bender filled multiple baseball roles, including service as a major league coach, minor league manager and player-manager, college manager and professional scout. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953 and he died not long before his induction ceremony the following year.

Chief Bender
Chief Bender, Philadelphia Athletics pitcher, by Paul Thompson, 1911
Chief Bender in 1911
Born: May 5, 1884
Crow Wing County, Minnesota
Died: May 22, 1954 (aged 70)
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 20, 1903, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
July 21, 1925, for the Chicago White Sox
MLB statistics
Win–loss record212–127
Earned run average2.46
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeterans Committee

Early life

Bender was born in Crow Wing County, Minnesota as a member of the Ojibwe tribe. His father was German and his mother was part Chippewa. As a child, he received the Indian name "Mandowescence", meaning "Little Spirit Animal." His family had 160 acres on the White Earth Indian Reservation near Bemidji, Minnesota. His father taught him to farm on the reservation.[1] He graduated from Carlisle Indian Industrial School and attended Dickinson College.

Baseball career

1903 E107 "Chief" Bender (Collection RC)
Bender in 1911

Early career

Bender debuted in the major leagues in 1903. He is one of only a few pitchers in the 20th century to throw 200 or more innings at the age of 19. His walks per nine innings rate was 2.17; only a few pitchers since 1893 have had a rate below 2.2 at the age of 20 or younger. That year he also won a game against Cy Young and even met his future wife Marie.[2]

In 1905, Bender earned an 18-11 win-loss record with a 2.83 ERA, helping the A's win the AL pennant, but they lost the World Series in five games to the New York Giants. Bender went 1-1, 1.06 ERA in the series, pitching a 4-hit, 3-0 complete game shutout in game 2, striking out 9, and again went the distance in game 5, giving up just two earned runs in eight innings and losing 2-0 to Christy Mathewson.

After solid seasons in 1906 (15-10, 2.53), 1907 (16-8, 2.05), 1908 (8-9 despite a 1.75 ERA) and 1909 (18-8, 1.66), he led the Athletics to the AL pennant in 1910 as Philadelphia went 102-48, 14 1/2 games ahead of the second-place New York Yankees. Bender led the AL in winning % at .821, going 23-5 with a 1.58 ERA. He went 1-1 with 1.93 ERA in the World Series as the A's beat, in five games, the Chicago Cubs, who had gone 104-50 in the regular season. Bender pitched a complete-game three-hitter in the opener, striking out 8 and giving up only one unearned run. He lost game 4 of the series in another complete game effort, 4-3 in 10 innings. Bender pitched all 9 2/3 innings for the Athletics, striking out 6.

Later career

Moving Picture News (1911) (1911) (14801801473)
The four stars of the world champion Philadelphia Athletics — Bender, Cy Morgan, Jack Coombs and Rube Oldring — were featured in the Thanhouser Company film, The Baseball Bug (1911)[3]

In 1911 he led the AL in winning percentage again (.773), going 17-5 with a 2.16 ERA as the A's won their second consecutive AL pennant, going 101-50 and finishing 13 1/2 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. In a rematch of the 1905 World Series, the Athletics got their revenge, defeating the New York Giants and becoming the first American League to win back-to-back World Series (the Chicago Cubs from the NL had won back-to-back titles in 1907 and 1908). After losing the opener 2-1 to Christy Mathewson, though pitching a complete game, giving up just 5 hits and 2 runs (1 earned run) and striking out 11, he returned in game 4, beating the Giants 4-2 on a complete game 7-hitter, and closed out the Series in game 6 with a 13-2 A's victory. Bender again went the distance (his 3rd complete game of the series), a 4-hit performance which he gave up no earned runs (the two Giants runs were unearned). He went 2-1, with 1.04 ERA and 3 complete games in the series.

In 1912 Bender was 13-8 with a 2.74 ERA. He did not start for nearly 40 games late in the year and was suspended by the A's in September for alcohol abuse. His next contract had a clause saying he had to abstain from drinking to earn his full salary. In 1913 he went 21-10 with a 2.21 ERA, helping the A's win their third AL pennant in four years. They would also make it three World Series titles in four years by defeating the Giants in five games. Bender went 2-0 in the series with complete-game victories in games 1 and 4.

He led the AL in winning percentage (.850) for the third time in 1914, going 17-3 with a 2.26 ERA, and the A's would win their fourth AL pennant in five years. But the Philadelphia would be swept by the underdog Boston Braves, with Bender losing game one 7-1 and giving up 6 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings. It was the only World Series game he failed to finish after completing his previous nine starts in the fall classic.

When the Baltimore Terrapins of the upstart Federal League offered Bender a significant increase in salary, Mack knew he could not hope to match it and released him. Bender went 4-16 for the Terrapins and later regretted leaving Philadelphia. After two years with the Phillies, he left baseball in 1918 to work in the shipyards during World War I.

Over his career, his win-loss record was 212-127, for a .625 winning percentage (a category in which he led the American League in three seasons) and a career 2.46 ERA. His talent was even more noticeable in the high-pressure environment of the World Series; in five trips to the championship series, he managed six wins and a 2.44 ERA, completing 9 of the 10 games he started, putting him 2nd in World Series history behind Christy Mathewson. In the 1911 Series, he pitched three complete games to tie Christy Mathewson's record of three complete games in a World Series. He also threw a no-hitter on May 12, 1910 beating the Cleveland Indians 4-0.

Minor leagues

In 1919, Bender pitched in the minor leagues for the Richmond Colts of the Virginia League. He earned a 29-2 record that year. He spent the next three seasons as a player-manager; the first two seasons were with the New Haven Weissmen/Indians, and the third was with the Class AA Reading Aces. For the 1920 New Haven team, Bender recorded 25 wins as a pitcher. His record declined to 13-7 in 1921 and 8-13 in 1922.[4]

In 1923 and 1924, Bender did not manage but did pitch for the minor league Baltimore Orioles and the New Haven Profs, respectively. He went 6-3 with a 5.03 ERA for Baltimore, then went 6-4 with a 3.07 ERA for New Haven.[4]

Coaching career

He came back to the majors as a coach for the Chicago White Sox (1925–26) and even made a cameo appearance on the mound in 1925. Between 1924 and 1928, Bender managed the baseball team at the United States Naval Academy.[5] He recorded a 42-34-2 record for the Naval Academy.[6] In 1931 he coached for the Giants and the next year managed the Yankee affiliate in the Central League. He then returned to the Athletics where he worked the rest of his life as a scout, minor league manager, and coach.


Bender was nicknamed "Chief", a common nickname for baseball players of Native American descent.[7] Biographer Tom Swift writes that Bender "was often portrayed as a caricature and was the subject of myriad cartoons – many exhibits of narrow-mindedness. After he threw one of the most dominating games of the early years of the American League, Bender was depicted wielding a tomahawk and wearing a headdress as though he was a happy warrior."[8]

He also faced discrimination on the field. Swift writes that taunting from the bench was common in Bender's era and that the opposition or the fans often made war whoops or yelled taunts such as "Nig!" or "Back to the reservation!" Bender usually remained calm, sometimes smiling at the insults. After an inning in which he had pitched particularly well, he might yell back, "Foreigners! Foreigners!"[9]

Off the baseball field, Bender was one of several prominent baseball players who enjoyed trap shooting, bowling and golf.[10][11] He felt that shooting in the offseason helped to train his eye and increase his self-control. He worked in sporting goods at Wanamaker's in Philadelphia during his early playing days.[12] He opened his own store, Bender Sporting Goods, in 1914.[13]

Bender's brother, John C. Bender, also played professional baseball. John Bender was suspended from minor league baseball for three years following the 1908 stabbing of his manager, Win Clark. Clark was stabbed in the torso several times. John Bender is sometimes erroneously described as having died on a baseball field, but he died at a restaurant in 1911, not long after attempting a professional baseball comeback.[14]

Later life

Late in his life, Bender's friend John Burns gave him a plot of land in Haddon Heights, New Jersey. Bender planted a garden on the land and worked with it almost every day, even though he lived in Philadelphia. He grew a number of fruits and vegetables, especially corn, and either ate, sold or gave away what he grew.[15] After the 1950 season, Bender took his last position in the major leagues, replacing Mickey Cochrane as the pitching coach for the Athletics.[16] Bender's coaching helped pitcher Bobby Shantz to the American League Most Valuable Player Award in 1952.[17] Bender was struggling with health problems, including arthritis and a cancer he did not disclose, during his tenure with Philadelphia.[18]

In his last days, Bender remained close friends with Athletics coach Bing Miller, who used to bring Bender a container of ice cream almost every day. Bender was hospitalized in Philadelphia in mid-April 1954. He died there on May 22, 1954 of prostate cancer. He had also been suffering from cardiac problems.[19] While he had been hospitalized, Bender sent Marie to Shibe Park for each home game so that she could report back to him on his team's pitching. Bender was buried in the Philadelphia suburb of Roslyn, Pennsylvania.[20]


Bender was well liked by his fellow players. Longtime roommate and fellow pitcher Rube Bressler called him "one of the kindest and finest men who ever lived."[21] Ty Cobb called him the most intelligent pitcher he ever faced. Bender was also known as one of the best sign-stealers of his time; Mack often put this skill to use by occasionally using him as the third-base coach on days he wasn't scheduled to pitch.

The innovator of the slider is debated, but some credit Bender as the first to use the pitch, then called a "nickel curve", in the 1910s.[22] Bender used his slider to help him achieve a no-hitter and win 212 games.[23]

Bender was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1953, less than one year before his death. He died before his induction ceremony and Marie accepted the Hall of Fame plaque on his behalf.[20] In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.

See also


  1. ^ There is uncertainty about Bender's birthdate. He was voted the SABR "Centennial Celebrity" of 1983, as the best baseball player or figure born in 1883. However, the SABR Baseball Research Journal for 1983 acknowledges that there are discrepancies in records about Bender's birth year, ranging from 1883 to 1885. 1884 is the figure most often given.


  1. ^ Kashatus, pp. 5-6
  2. ^ Swift, p. 108
  3. ^ "The Baseball Bug". Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc. Retrieved 2016-01-22.
  4. ^ a b "Chief Bender Minor League Statistics & History". Retrieved July 6, 2014.
  5. ^ 2014 Baseball Media Guide (PDF). United States Naval Academy. p. 51.
  6. ^ 2014 Baseball Media Guide (PDF). United States Naval Academy. p. 46.
  7. ^ Swift, p. 4
  8. ^ Swift, p. 5
  9. ^ Swift, p. 6
  10. ^ Kaufman, King. "Chief Bender's Burden (review)". Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  11. ^ "Big Chief Bender trap-shooting star". The Day (New London). March 2, 1915. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  12. ^ Kashatus, p. 140
  13. ^ "Chief Bender is going into business". Dawson Daily News. June 1, 1914. Retrieved November 1, 2014.
  14. ^ Gorman, Robert, Weeks, David (2009). Death at the Ballpark: A Comprehensive Study of Game-related Fatalities of Players, Other Personnel and Spectators in Amateur and Professional Baseball, 1862–2007. McFarland. p. 102. ISBN 0786452544. Retrieved July 5, 2014.
  15. ^ Swift, pp. 281-282
  16. ^ Kashatus, p. 146
  17. ^ Kashatus, p. 148
  18. ^ Kashatus, p. 149
  19. ^ Swift, p. 285
  20. ^ a b Kashatus, p. 152
  21. ^ Ritter, Lawrence (1966). The Glory of Their Times. p. 199.
  22. ^ "WISCONSIN Magazine of History",Wisconsin Historical Society Press, Spring 2004 issue. Accessed July 8, 2007.
  23. ^ "National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum: Hall of Famer detail" Archived May 25, 2009, at the Wayback Machine,National Baseball Hall of Fame. Accessed July 8, 2007.


  • Kashatus, William C. (2006). Money Pitcher: Chief Bender and the Tragedy of Indian Assimilation. Penn State Press. ISBN 978-0-271-02862-0.
  • Swift, Tom (2008), Chief Bender's Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star, University of Nebraska Press

Further reading

  • Powers-Beck, Jeffrey P. (2004). The American Indian integration of baseball. University of Nebraska Press. p. 269. ISBN 978-0-8032-3745-2.

External links

Preceded by
Addie Joss
No-hitter pitcher
May 12, 1910
Succeeded by
Smoky Joe Wood
1903 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1903 Philadelphia Athletics season was a season in American baseball. The team finished 2nd in the American League with a record of 75 wins and 60 losses, 14½ games behind the Boston Americans.

1904 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1904 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing fifth in the American League with a record of 81 wins and 70 losses.

1905 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1905 Philadelphia Athletics season was a season in American baseball. The team finished first in the American League with a record of 92 wins and 56 losses, winning their first pennant. They went on to face the New York Giants in the 1905 World Series, losing 4 games to 1.

The pitching staff featured three future Hall of Famers: Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank, and Chief Bender. Waddell easily won the pitching triple crown in 1905, with 27 wins, 287 strikeouts, and a 1.48 earned run average.

1905 World Series

The 1905 World Series matched the National League (NL) champion New York Giants against the American League (AL) champion Philadelphia Athletics, with the Giants winning four games to one. Four of the five games featured duels between future Hall of Fame pitchers.

Each of the five games was a shutout. Three of those, over a six-day span, were pitched and won by Christy Mathewson.

1906 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1906 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing fourth in the American League with a record of 78 wins and 67 losses.

1907 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1907 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 2nd in the American League with a record of 88 wins and 57 losses.

1908 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1908 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing sixth in the American League with a record of 68 wins and 85 losses.

1910 World Series

The 1910 World Series featured the Philadelphia Athletics and the Chicago Cubs, with the Athletics winning in five games to earn their first championship.

Jack Coombs of Philadelphia won three games and Eddie Collins supplied timely hitting. The 2nd greatest Cubs team in history closed out its glory years, only ten years into the new century.

1911 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1911 Philadelphia Athletics season was a season in American baseball. The A's finished first in the American League with a record of 101 wins and 50 losses, then went on to defeat the New York Giants in the 1911 World Series, four games to two, for their second straight World Championship.

Starting in 1911, the team was known for its "$100,000 infield", consisting of John "Stuffy" McInnis (first base), Eddie Collins (second base), Jack Barry (shortstop), and Frank "Home Run" Baker (third base) as well as pitchers Eddie Plank and Charles "Chief" Bender.

1911 World Series

In the 1911 World Series, the Philadelphia Athletics defeated the New York Giants four games to two.

Philadelphia third baseman Frank "Home Run" Baker earned his nickname during this Series. His home run in Game 2 off Rube Marquard was the margin of victory for the Athletics, and his blast in Game 3 off Christy Mathewson tied that game in the ninth inning, and the Athletics eventually won in the eleventh. The Giants never recovered. Ironically, Mathewson (or his ghostwriter) had criticized Marquard in his newspaper column after Game 2 for giving up the gopher ball, only to fall victim himself the very next day. Baker was swinging a hot bat in general, going 9 for 24 to lead all batters in the Series with a .375 average.

According to his New York Times obituary (July 28, 1971), Giants catcher Chief Meyers threw out 12 runners, creating a record for the most assists by a catcher during the World Series.

The six consecutive days of rain between Games 3 and 4 caused the longest delay between World Series games until the earthquake-interrupted 1989 Series (which incidentally featured the same two franchises, albeit on the West Coast). With the sixth and final game being played on October 26, this was also the latest-ending World Series by calendar date until the 1981 Series.

1913 World Series

In the 1913 World Series, the Philadelphia Athletics beat the New York Giants four games to one.

The A's pitching gave the edge to a closer-than-it-looked Series in 1913. Christy Mathewson lost his Series swan song in the final game to an old college rival and eventual fellow Baseball Hall of Fame member, Eddie Plank.

The Giants thus became the first National League team since the Chicago Cubs (1906–1908) to win three consecutive pennants. They were also the second club (following the Detroit Tigers 1907–1909) to lose three consecutive World Series; and remain the last to do so.

The Series itself was a face-off between two teams that later became crosstown rivals in Oakland and San Francisco. The Oakland A's won again in a four-game sweep in the 1989 World Series, famous for the earthquake that struck before Game 3, which is the last World Series victory for the A's.

1914 World Series

In the 1914 World Series, the Boston Braves beat the Philadelphia Athletics in a four-game series.

The "Miracle Braves" were in last place on July 4, then won the National League pennant by ​10 1⁄2 games. The Braves' relatively unknown starting trio of pitchers, with a combined career record of 285–245, outperformed the Athletics vaunted rotation (929–654) in all four games. Hank Gowdy hit .545 (6 of 11) with five extra-base hits and also drew five walks for Boston in the series and was the difference maker in Games 1 and 3.

Adding to their supposed disadvantages, the Braves arguably lacked a notable home-field advantage. They had abandoned their 43-year-old home field South End Grounds in August 1914, choosing to rent from the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park while awaiting construction of Braves Field (1915). Thus their home games in this Series were also at Fenway.

This was the first four-game sweep in World Series history. The Cubs had defeated the Tigers four games to none in 1907, but Game 1 had ended in a tie before the Cubs won the next four in a row.

At least one publication, To Every Thing A Season by Bruce Kuklick, has suggested other factors that might have contributed to the sweep, noting that some of the A's may have been irritated at the penny-pinching ways of their manager/owner Connie Mack and thus did not play hard, and also noting the heavy wagering against Philadelphia placed by entertainer George M. Cohan through bookmaker Sport Sullivan, who was also implicated in the 1919 Black Sox scandal. Chief Bender and Eddie Plank jumped to the rival Federal League for the 1915 season. Mack unloaded most of his other high-priced stars soon after and, within two years, the A's achieved the worst winning percentage in modern history (even worse than the 1962 New York Mets or the 2003 Detroit Tigers).

1916 Philadelphia Phillies season

The following lists the events of the 1916 Philadelphia Phillies season.

1953 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1953 followed a radically new procedure. The institution appointed its Committee on Baseball Veterans, the famous "Veterans Committee", to meet in person and consider pioneers and executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players. Committees in the 1930s and 1940s had chosen several pioneers and executives, but this was the first direction of anyone's attention to field personnel other than players, the managers and umpires.

The first Veterans Committee met in closed sessions and elected six people: Ed Barrow, Chief Bender, Tommy Connolly, Bill Klem, Bobby Wallace, and Harry Wright.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent players (no change) and elected two, Dizzy Dean and Al Simmons.

Cy Morgan

Harry Richard "Cy" Morgan (November 10, 1878 – June 28, 1962) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher with the St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox, Philadelphia Athletics and the Cincinnati Reds between 1903 and 1913. Morgan batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Pomeroy, Ohio

He helped the Athletics win the 1910 and 1911 World Series. The 1912 Reach Guide credits him with helping carry the pitching burder for the 1911 team while stars Jack Coombs and Chief Bender were less effective than usual early in the season.

Minor League Baseball

Minor League Baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball (MLB) and provide opportunities for player development and a way to prepare for the major leagues. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses. Most are members of the umbrella organization known as Minor League Baseball (MiLB), which operates under the Commissioner of Baseball within the scope of organized baseball. Several leagues, known as independent baseball leagues, do not have any official links to Major League Baseball.

Except for the Mexican League, teams in the organized minor leagues are generally independently owned and operated but are directly affiliated with one major league team through a standardized Player Development Contract (PDC). These leagues also go by the nicknames the "farm system", "farm club", or "farm team(s)" because of a joke passed around by major league players in the 1930s when St. Louis Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey formalized the system, and teams in small towns were "growing players down on the farm like corn".

Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball teams may enter into a PDC for a two- or four-year term. At the expiration of a PDC term, teams may renew their affiliation, or sign new PDCs with different clubs, though many relationships are renewed and endure for extended time periods. For example, the Omaha Storm Chasers (formerly the Omaha Royals and Omaha Golden Spikes) have been the Triple-A affiliate of the Kansas City Royals since the Royals joined the American League in 1969, but the Columbus Clippers changed affiliations, after being associated with the New York Yankees from 1979, to the Washington Nationals in 2007, and have been affiliated with the Cleveland Indians since 2009.

A few minor league teams are directly owned by their major league parent club, such as the Springfield Cardinals, owned by the St. Louis Cardinals, and all of the Atlanta Braves' affiliates except the Florida Fire Frogs. Minor League teams that are owned directly by the major league club do not have PDCs with the parent club and are typically not part of the reaffiliation shuffles that occur each year.

Today, there are 14 MLB-affiliated minor leagues with a total of 160 revenue-generating teams, located in large, medium, and small cities and suburbs across the United States and Canada, and there are three MLB-affiliated rookie leagues with a total of 80 teams, located in Arizona, Florida, and the Dominican Republic, though these teams do not generate revenue. The Mexican League, with 16 teams, is independent but closely tied with MLB. Several more independent leagues operate in the United States and Canada.

Oakland Athletics award winners and league leaders

This is a list of award winners and league leaders for the Oakland Athletics professional baseball franchise.

The team was first known as the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1954 and then as the Kansas City Athletics from 1955 to 1967.

Sheldon "Chief" Bender

Sheldon "Chief" Bender (November 25, 1919 – February 27, 2008) was an American player and manager in minor league baseball and a scout, scouting director and farm system director in Major League Baseball who spent 64 years in the game.

Bender is most closely identified with the Cincinnati Reds, where he spent 39 years (1967–2005) as a front office executive and consultant. An associate of general manager Bob Howsam, Bender was Cincinnati's farm system director of the "Big Red Machine" era and served in that post for 22 years, 1967–88. His system produced such players as Baseball Hall of Famer Barry Larkin, Ken Griffey, Sr., Dave Concepción, Don Gullett, Eric Davis and Paul O'Neill. The Reds' minor league player of the year award is named after him.

Virginia League

The Virginia League was a minor league baseball affiliation which operated in Virginia and North Carolina from 1906 to 1928. It was classified as a "C" league from 1906 to 1919 and as a "B" league from 1920 to 1928.

The most famous alumni to come out of the league were World War II hero, General Frank A. Armstrong (the highest-ranking military officer to have played professional baseball), and Hall of Fame members Rick Ferrell, Chief Bender, Pie Traynor, and Hack Wilson. Chief Bender, Art Devlin, Gabby Street and Zinn Beck served as managers in the league.

Key personnel
Important figures
World Series
Champions (9)
American League
Championships (15)
AL West Division
Championships (16)
AL Wild Card (3)
Veterans Committee
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
Executives /
Inducted as
Inducted as
Inducted as a Phillie
Inductees who played for the Phillies
Phillies' managers
Phillies' executives
Frick Award
Spink Award

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