Arthur Lee Daney: The Escapades of Chief Cool ‘Em Off

In the 1910s the front page of the Talihina American was like most newspapers, full of politics and local news. But the second page was devoted to the game of baseball, the great American pastime. It was the era of great players like Ty Cobb and his nemesis “Wild Bill” Donovan, and of historic rivalries between the New York Yankees and the Philadelphia Athletics.

Baseball fever raged throughout southeast Oklahoma and regional teams sprung up, among such towns as McAlester, Holdenville, Wilburton, Hartshorne, and Talihina. There was always a team coming into town to face the local challengers.

On a slow hot Saturday afternoon in Talihina, swimming and fishing were set aside and the town assembled for the local baseball game. Among the crowd was a young boy named Arthur Lee Daney. The name of Daney might not be a familiar name, even if you knew that his grandmother was Levina Anderson. However, Levina’s father was none other than the distinguished Choctaw Chief Alfred Wade of Wadesville, making young Arthur the great-grandson of Chief Wade and First Lady A-Ho-Yo-Te-Ma. But these relationships mattered not one bit on the baseball field.

See my last blog about First Lady A-Ho-Ya-Te-MaAt The Edge of The Wilderness

Talihina was a community of farmers and shopkeepers of various kinds. It was a life some would call ordinary, that is to say, rather plain and dull. But Arthur’s father Daniel had a deep passion for working with his land and animals. Growing up in that atmosphere, Arthur learned about passion and zest for life. When the baseball bug bit, and it bit hard, Arthur recognized it as the passion he would follow the rest of his life. While his eight other siblings would stay close to home, Arthur found the courage to pursue his love of baseball, which would take him to Kansas, Denver, Philadelphia, Illinois, Indiana, North Carolina and finally to Arizona.

Three people would be a great influence on young Arthur Daney. The first was Native American pitcher, Charles Albert Bender, aka “Chief Bender,” known foremost for a rare ability to pitch under pressure, and now a Baseball Hall of Fame member. In the words of Connie Mack, the legendary manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, “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.”

The second person was the baseball legend, Manager Connie Mack, who was willing to give a young, self-taught pitcher a chance to pitch at a major-league level and recruited him for the 1928 Philadelphia Athletics.

The third was baseball great, Ty Cobb, who befriended the young pitcher, always had a kind word for him, and gave him the endearing nickname of “Chief Cool ‘Em Off”.

three-baseball-greats

Arthur Daney remembered every minute of his time under the bright lights, and left us a endearing memoir of both his achievements and his challenges. It is fascinating to read about someone following their bliss, as Joseph Campbell describes it. Arthur’s memoir is as raw and honest as they come.

~Memoir of Arthur Lee Daney~

Chief Whitehorn Threw a Fastball

Chief Whitehorn, or Arthur Lee Daney, a Choctaw Indian, was a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1928.

My dad [Daniel Daney] was a full-blooded Choctaw Indian and didn’t speak English very well. My mother was only half-Indian and she didn’t want Dad to speak Choctaw to us because she said it would make it hard for us to learn English. She was right.

But Dad was a Methodist minister and would preach in his own language. That made him happy. So did the big farm he owned in Oklahoma. The farming he leased out and received crops or cash in payment. But he kept and maintained a great deal of livestock – horse, cattle, turkeys, and hogs, mainly. There were nine of us children – five boys and four girls.

I am now 74. If we boys wanted fun or recreation, we would go fishing or hunting, or maybe we would play the monkey game – swinging from tree to tree to see how far we could go before we touched ground. In the summer we would go swimming. Saturday and Sunday were always big days.

Saturdays we went to town and watched the baseball game – let me tell you old Talihina had one great ball team. Watching those fellows pay ball, I would say to myself, “One of these days I’m going to be a ball player.”

And I started early. One day I was looking around the house and I came across a brand new pair of Dad’s socks. I unraveled one of the socks and had enough string to wind a good tight ball. When Dad found the sock put to this use, it wasn’t any fun – but I still had the ball.

My brother and I went to Jones Academy in Hartshorne, Oklahoma, and we played baseball there. I was the pitcher and he was the catcher. During the summer, I worked up to the point where I would get $10 to pitch for town teams and Joe would get $5.

This worked out fine until one day we played against a team that had a pitcher who had been playing professional ball long enough to know a good many tricks. He used something on the ball. I tried I and it worked for me. The ball got to acting up and Joe finally said. “Lee you’ve got too much for me today.” We had another catcher on the team and he was put in, but he couldn’t catch me either – and the other team couldn’t hit my hopping pitches.

So it worked out all right for me. From Jones Academy I went to Haskell Indian School in Lawrence, Kansas. I wanted to play football because that was when the Haskell Indians were a famous college team. But the coach, Dick Handley, told me, “You’re just a bit too small for football and besides, you have a good right arm and we don’t want to hurt it. Unless I miss my guess, you are going to be quite a pitcher someday. “

So I pitched for Haskell and did pretty well and when school was out, I would pitch for any team that would let me. I started making money that way. After the 1927 school year, I went to Kansas City where I had previously done some pitching – and very quickly I was invited to pay for a local black team. I got $25 for that game, which was against a Concordia, Kansas team.

I won the game and the manager of the team I beat asked me to join his club. I thought it over for a week and accepted. We had a good season but the team wound up broke. There was one good fan in Concordia, an elderly lady. She said she would pay all our expenses if we would play in the Denver Post Tournament. This tournament drew teams from all over the country and was important not only from a prestige standpoint, but also because it paid good prize money. Our sponsor said we could keep any winnings. Naturally we decided to go.

Just then I made another important decision. The year before I met a school teacher in Quinton, Oklahoma. Before we left for Denver, I wrote her and told her I now had good prospects and if she would say yes, I was willing to say yes, too. She came to Concordia and we were married and in the summer of 1978 we celebrated our 50th anniversary in Scottsdale.

Anyway we won this national baseball tournament in Denver and I must admit my pitching had something to do with it. One evening, while we were in Denver, someone knocked on the door of my hotel room. It was a scout from the Philadelphia Athletics, who was making some strides in the American League that summer.

The scout’s name was Ira Thomas. He said he had been following me that summer and would I like to come to spring training with the Athletics. I got real smart and asked him how much I would get to sign up. He said, “I thought you would be glad just to get to go.” Then he told me that Connie Mack, the Philadelphia manager, had been looking for an Indian pitcher since Chief Bender retired three years before.

Of course, I knew of Chief Bender – 15 years in baseball’s big leagues, 208 games won, 112 lost for one of the best percentages ever. He’s now in Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Sure I knew him. Connie Mack was asking me to try and fill his shoes. I said I might not be as good as the Chief, but I would give it a try. I signed a contract for 1928, and went to Fort Myers, Florida for spring training with the Athletics under Connie Mack.

Chief Whitehorn makes team Feb 1928 Ohio CantonThe first day of practice, I met Ty Cobb, who was winding up his great career with the Athletics. He was the greatest base stealer of his day and held season and career records until Lou Brock of the St. Louis Cardinals broke both in recent years. He led the American League in battling nine straight years. He was a super player, and I shall never forget him and will always remember that I was a teammate of his in 1928.

He called me Chief Cool ’em Off and continually asked me to tell stories about Indians.

That was the year that Connie Mack had the team that he built into World Series contenders the following three years. The Athletics beat the Chicago Cubs 4 to 1, in 1929; beat the St. Louis Cardinals 4 games to 2, in 1930; and lost to the Cardinals in 1931, 4 games to 3.

That year in 1928, Mack had Joe Houser on first base, Mac Bishop on second, Joe Bailey at short, Sammy Hale at third, Mike Haas in Right Field, Tris Speaker (winding up his career) in Center, Bing Miller in Left, and Mickey Conchrane catching.

On his pitching staff were Lefty Glove, Jack Quinn (one of the greatest spitball pictchers), Eddie Rommell, Howard Emke and Ernie Shore. And then he had that great Indian pitcher who had just come up from college and the bushes to carry on for Chief Bender: Chief Whitehorn or Arthur Lee Daney.

There was another rookie on the squad with me. His name was Jimmy Foxx and before the season was over, he had beaten House out at First Base. That year, too, Al Simmons replaced Speaker in the outfield and Foxx and Simmons set all kinds of records and near-records the next few years.

I did not succeed Chief Bender. It was too big and too fast a jump. Eventually I went to Indianapolis and for a couple of years, made big headlines in the minors.

But the Great Depression set in the following year and baseball, especially in the smaller leagues, was hard hit. There was a lot of joy and glory in baseball, and you didn’t learn only how to be a good player. I learned a great deal about life from the game. For instance, when I started out, I was known as a hot head. Whenever something happened that didn’t seem just right, I would blow my stack. But it didn’t take the umpires long to catch on and after a while, every time I opened my mouth, I was either fined or run out of the ball park. So I toned down.

The one thing I will never forget was when I had to quit playing baseball – my only life and occupation up to that time – and to work to earn a living. I had been playing in the Carolina League in 1931 and was promised a job in the textile industry in that area after the season. My first paycheck was $11 and the world seemed to stand still. But my wife and I worked things out. I gave it the old baseball try, and we started to get ahead in the field of business.

And through it all, I have that great memory of playing with Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics in the days of their great glory. And of playing with that team as Chief Whitehorn.

~~~~~~~~~

See Baseball Statistics for Arthur Daney: Baseball Reference

Art Daney Teams

Game collage

SOURCES: Arthur Daney’s memoir was published March 17, 1979, Scottsdale Progress (Arizona) .  Also available on the Choctaw Nation website under Original Enrollees.

The article “Redskin Looks Fine To Connie” was published February 24, 1928 in The Repository (Canton, Ohio).

Recounts of his two baseball games were published in the Illinois State Journal.

See his obituary on his Memorial Page at Find-A-Grave.

***Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***

5 thoughts on “Arthur Lee Daney: The Escapades of Chief Cool ‘Em Off

  1. Great Page Thanks for this. Arthur Daney was my grandfather. I will Share with the family sure they will like it

  2. Hi again. Thank you laredoleach. Can I email you? I’m not sure I should ask all my questions here in the comments section. I’m trying to understand the genealogy. Levina Wade was married to Davis Anderson? Was she also married to Solomon Daney? When I follow my family tree it shows she was married to Solomon. But there are no more Daneys after him. So I’m confused . I saw another tree showing that Levina and Davis had one daughter Lucinda. Thanks for any help and your time.

  3. Yes, Levina Wade’s first husband was Solomon Daney. He died sometime around 1870-1875 and then she married Davis Anderson.
    Levina and Solomon Daney had one child Daniel Daney (that I am aware of). Daniel and his third wife Rebecca are the parents of Arthur Daney.

    My blog At the Edge of the Wilderness has a family tree for the Wade family – toward the end of the blog. https://choctawspirit.wordpress.com/2017/11/08/at-the-edge-of-the-wilderness

    Also check out the memorial page on Find-A-Grave for Daniel Daney, who died 1925 and is buried at the old Wadesville Cemetery – which I have never seen, nor anyone else in a long time so who knows what condition the cemetery is in. Link – https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/184686454/daniel-daney The page shows that Daniel (thru 3 marriages) had 14 children.

    My Choctaw tree in Ancestry is called “Choctaw Nation Families – Indian Territory”, which has the actual documents I was able to find. A lot of the older dates are just estimates.

  4. Thanks again so much. I appreciate your help. Now it makes sense and it looks like I’m really a descendant of Alfred wade. I’ve learned a lot from your website. now I know about Solomon and Daniel had 3 wives. I saw on one of your other pages he had a wife half Irish and a red headed son half brother to Arthur? Our family has a tree on familysearch.org run by the latter day Saints church. I will have to try ancestry.com
    Yakoke.

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