As you may know, Sockalexis was a Native American ballplayer from the Penobscot tribe in Maine. He was born in a town called Old Town and showed a great amount of athletic prowess at an early age. Entering the College of the Holy Cross in 1894 he excelled at Baseball, football and track. Three years later he transferred to Notre Dame.
While with the Fighting Irish he played in a exhibition game against New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, and faced a barrage of taunts and racist insults. Amos Rusie, a Hall of Fame pitcher for the Giants, even remarked that he would strike out that "damned Indian." Sockalexis, buoyed by a small contingent of family and friends from the Penobscot tribe in Maine who made the trip south, socked the very first pitch from Rusie for a home run over the center field fence. The man had stepped up in the moment.
"If the small and big boys of Brooklyn find it a pleasure to shout at me, I have no objections. No matter where we play, I go through the same ordeal, and at the present time I am so used to it that at times I forget to smile at my tormentors, believing it to be part of the game." (Brooklyn Eagle, May 1897)Later that year he went on to play for the Cleveland Spiders, but lasted only three years in the show. Problems with alcoholism had cut his career short. As is legend, the Cleveland team was named after him, but the historical record shows otherwise. The team name, Indians, was chosen through a contest held by a local newspaper.
Sockalexis legend continues to grow as collectors and fans discuss what could have been. He is noted for having a mighty bat, a strong arm and for being one of the first Native Americans to play the game professionally.
"Louis Sockalexis had the most brilliant career of any man who ever played the game. At no time has a player crowded so many remarkable accomplishments into such a short period of time as Sockalexis. He should have been the greatest player of the times — greater than Cobb, Wagner, Lajoie, Hornsby or any of the other men who made history for the game." - Hall of Famer Hughie JenningsBTW, it sold for $810.00.
"If Sock had stayed up for five years he could well have been better than Cobb, Wagner or Ruth." - Hall of Famer John McGraw