Chief Bender

Position: Pitcher
Philadelphia Athletics, 1903-1914; Baltimore Terrapins, 1915; Philadelphia Phillies, 1916-1917; Chicago White Sox, 1925

As a member of Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's from 1903 to 1914, Charles Albert Bender (1884-1954) was surrounded by fellow All-Star pitchers Eddie Plank and Rube Waddell and backed up by the famous "$100,000 Infield." Pitching for five pennant-winning teams, Bender won six World Series games in 10 starts, including two apiece in the 1911 and 1913 fall classics.

Bender won 20 or more games only twice in an era when 40 wins were not uncommon, but he led the league in winning percentage twice with 23-5 and 17-3 seasons in 1910 and '11. The Chief also figured in a host of the biggest games of the era.

Hall of Famer Chief Bender
Chief Bender pitched for five pennant-winnings teams and won six World Series games.

In only the second World Series (1905), Bender led the A's to their only victory of the Series, beating Iron Man Joe McGinnity with a four-hit shutout in Game 2, but he lost the final game to Christy Mathewson, in Matty's third victory in the five-game series. Despite this, Mack called Bender the best clutch pitcher on the Athletics.

Bender, half Chippewa Indian, left the White Earth Indian reservation in Minnesota at age 13 to attend school in Philadelphia. After attending the Carlisle Indian School, Bender skipped the minor leagues and jumped straight from semipro ball to the bigs.

He was one of the bigger pitchers of his day at 6-feet-2, and although he didn't rack up many strikeouts, he was often near the top of the AL in strikeouts per game during his stint with the A's. A good fastball pitcher, he also threw a "talcum" pitch. The Chief would rub one side of a baseball with talcum powder until the ball would drop; the pitch was legal in his time.

In 1906, Bender replaced outfielder Topsy Hartsel in a contest and slugged two home runs in one game, a rare feat in the dead-ball era. After winning three World Series with Connie Mack's A's, Bender was lured to the Federal League in 1915. He returned to Philadelphia for the 1916 and 1917 seasons as a member of the National League's Phillies, before he went to war for the entire 1918 campaign.

He came back at age 36 to post a 29-2 record in the minor leagues. He tossed one inning for the White Sox at age 41 before retiring for good. In his 16-year major-league career, Bender posted a 210-127 win-loss record and a 2.46 ERA.

He went on to coaching chores, serving stints with Connie Mack, John McGraw and the U.S. Naval Academy. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953, Bender worked in baseball until his death in 1954.

Here are Chief Bender's major league totals:

210 127 2.46 459 256 3,017.0 2,645 825 712 1,711

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