TULSA, Okla. - A professional football player, two track and field Olympians and a Penobscot Nation man believed to be the first to break the color barrier in major league baseball will be inducted into the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony in Tulsa April 22 honors the four outstanding athletes.
Perry Beaver, principal chief of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation played for Northeast Louisiana State University in 1959 and 1960. He was signed a year later by legendary coach Vince Lombardi to play for the Green Bay Packers. He is a member of the Oklahoma Coaches Hall of Fame and in 1998 was inducted into the Northeast Louisiana University Sports Hall of Fame.
High jumper Bob Cannon from the Osage Nation will be inducted into the track and field category as is Andrew Sockalexis, Penobscot Nation, a marathon runner and a member of the 1912 U.S. Olympic team.
And then there is Louis Sockalexis, Andrew's brother - the first American Indian to play baseball in the major leagues. Before finishing his education at Notre Dame, he was urged to play baseball for Cleveland by team manager Patsy Tebeau. He played with Cleveland for three years which, according to some reports, named the team, after him. In others, the team was called "the Indians" by fans and sportswriters in order to disrespect Sockalexis. He played right field while fans reportedly taunted him with Indian war whoops and threw garbage at him. It was 15 years later that sportswriters started calling the team, originally the Naps, the "Indians."
The American Indian Hall of Fame held its first induction ceremony in 1972 and is located in the Tom Stidham Student Union on the campus of Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kan. For more information, please call (918) 245-5456 or (918) 743-3049.