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Chief Bender

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1903 E107 Breisch Williams

Charles Albert Bender

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1953

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[edit] Biographical Information

Hall of Famer Chief Bender won 212 games in sixteen years in the majors and is best remembered a member of the great Philadelphia Athletics rotation of the early 1900s that also included Rube Waddell, Eddie Plank, and Jack Coombs. His brother John Bender played professionally as well.


Bender was a half-Chippewa Indian from Minnesota and attended the Carlisle Indian School. He debuted in the majors with the Athletics as a 19 year old and threw a four-hit shutout versus the New York Highlanders to get a win in his first game. He later threw a no-hitter on May 12, 1910 against the Cleveland Naps. In a dozen years with the Athletics, he twice won 20 games and three times finished the season with an ERA below 2.00. Philadelphia reached the World Series five times with him on the club and won three world championships. In the postseason, Albert (as manager Connie Mack always called him, though Bender himself signed autographs as "Charley") won 6 of 10 starts, throwing complete games in 9 of them.

Bender jumped to the Baltimore Terrapins of the Federal League in 1915 but did not find much success, going 4-16 in one year there. He then returned to Philadelphia, this time as a member of the Phillies, but he did not duplicate his earlier success, going 15-9 over the course of two seasons.

According to the book The Pitcher, Ty Cobb called Bender the "brainiest pitcher" he ever saw.

After his playing days ended, Bender was a coach for the Chicago White Sox in 1925 and 1926 while former teammate Eddie Collins was the club's manager, and he also pitched one inning of one game for the Sox in 1925. He was later on the staff of the New York Giants in 1931 and the Athletics from 1951 to 1954. He was also the head coach at the United States Naval Academy from 1924 to 1928 and a scout for the Athletics from 1945 to 1954. Additionally, he spent several seasons as a minor league manager.

Discrepancies persist about Bender's birthyear and birth date. His sister produced a birth certificate (obtained in 1942) which said he was born on May 3, 1883 (as described in the SABR 1983 Research Journal), and his obits in 1954 said he was 71. Also, SABR elected him as the Centennial Celebrity of 1983 (best baseball player or figure born in 1883).

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 3-time AL Winning Percentage Leader (1910, 1911 & 1914)
  • 2-time AL Saves Leader (1906 & 1913)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 9 (1903, 1905-1907, 1909-1911, 1913 & 1914)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 2 (1910 & 1913)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1903-1907, 1909-1911 & 1913)
  • Won three World Series with the Philadelphia Athletics (1910, 1911 & 1913)
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1953

[edit] Year-by-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1919 Richmond Colts Virginia League 2nd none none replaced Frank Dobson
1920 New Haven Weissmen Eastern League 79-61 1st none none League Champs
1921 New Haven Indians Eastern League 81-72 4th none none
1922 Reading Aces International League 71-93 6th none none
1927 Johnstown Johnnies Middle Atlantic League 6th none replaced Babe Adams
1928 Richmond Colts Virginia League 3rd (t) none League disbanded on June 5 Replaced Olin Perritt on June 3.
Johnstown Johnnies Middle Atlantic League 6th none replaced Mike Thompson July 7.
1932 Erie Sailors Central League -- New York Yankees replaced by Bill McCorry July 4.
1940 Wilmington Blue Rocks Interstate League 29-29 -- Philadelphia Athletics replaced by Charlie Berry (39-23) on July 5
1941 Newport News Pilots Virginia League 58-58 5th Philadelphia Athletics
1946 Savannah Indians South Atlantic League -- Philadelphia Athletics replaced by Lena Blackburne July 3.

[edit] Further Reading

  • William C. Kashatus: Money Pitcher: Chief Bender and the Tragedy of Indian Assimilation, Keystone Books, Penn State University Press, University Park, PA, 2006.
  • Tom Swift: Chief Bender's Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star, University of Nebraska Press, Lincoln, NE, 2008.
  • Robert Peyton Wiggins: Chief Bender: A Baseball Biography, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010.

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