Charles Albert Bender was an Ojibwe Indian born in Minnesota who had a storied career as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies Major League Baseball franchise. Some of his notable accomplishments include nine complete games in World Series, including being the first to pitch three complete games in a single World Series, a no-hit game, and owning the best winning percentage in the American League in three separate seasons.
His reputation was such that his long-time manager Connie Mack said about him, "If I had all the men I've ever handled and they were in their prime and there was one game I wanted to win above all others, Albert would be my man."
He transformed the game of baseball by inventing the nickel curve, or slider. This pitch is the major element in the arsenal of many pitchers today. But his impact was much greater than the creation of a new pitch.
Bender was often subjected to bigotry and racial taunts--consider that he arrived in the major leagues a mere thirteen years after the massacre at Wounded Knee. Bender handled such incidents with dignity and grace, and in the words of a teammate, was one of the kindest and finest men who ever lived.
He also stood out by being one of the most versatile, intelligent, and well-educated men to play the game of baseball. In addition, he was an expert trap shooter, billiard, and card player.
As a result of his exemplary life on and off the field, Charles Albert Bender was the first Native American inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. He also paved the way for other Native Americans who played Major League baseball in the first half of the 20th century.
~Matt Bjurstrom, Eden Prairie, MN