Central PA Sports History: Charles Albert “Chief” Bender

Nestled on the grounds of what is now the United States Army War College in Carlisle, this historical marker is erected to honor the life of one of baseball’s greatest pitchers, Charles Albert “Chief” Bender.


Photo courtesy Beverly Pfingsten

Although Bender was born in Minnesota as a member of the Chippewa tribe, he attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School at the turn of the century. While at the school, Bender was a baseball star under the tutelage of legendary football coach Glen “Pop” Warner. After graduation, Bender attended Dickinson College and during the summer pitched for the semi-pro Harrisburg Athletic Club where he was discovered by a scout for the Philadelphia Athletics.
Bender tallied 212 wins, one no-hitter, and three World Series titles during a stellar 16-year professional career as a starting pitcher. Bender utilized outstanding control with an arsenal that included an excellent curveball and one of the game’s earliest sliders to become a clutch performer during pennant races and championship games. As one can imagine for the era, Bender managed to do this all despite an extreme prejudice and bigotry against the pitcher because of his Native American heritage.

Bender was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee in 1953 and inducted a year later. Unfortunately, Bender passed away three months prior to the formal ceremony and didn’t live to see his plaque added to the Hall.

If you go:The marker is located on Ashburn Drive near the athletic field of the old Carlisle Indian Industrial School (map). ID will be required to enter the base and your vehicle will be thoroughly inspected.

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