JIM THORPE, JOHN T. MEYERS,
AND GEORGE H. JOHNSON
John Tortes Meyers, a Cahuilla Indian from California educated at Dartmouth College, was a catcher for the Giants, Boston Braves and Brooklyn Robins and a key player in four World Series. George Howard Johnson, a Winnebago Indian from Nebraska who attended Carlisle Indian Industrial School, preferred the nickname "Big Murph." A pitcher who signed with the Cincinnati Reds in 1913, he played his last game only two years later. Meyers lived to the age of 90, but Johnson was murdered in Des Moines, Iowa in 1922.
The first American Indians who played professional baseball broke a color barrier, much as black players did decades later. Indians faced threats, epithets (including the "n" word) and racial stereotyping. No Indian player called himself "Chief," but the title was attached to every Indian player before and after Jim Thorpe became the 15th Indian to enter the majors.