A Choctaw Makes the Big Leagues

Fourth of July and Baseball – a perfect pair. I guess that is what made me think of Arthur Lee Daney today. There is always something new to discover about a person. This time an article in the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader newspaper (Pennsylvania) gives us a  wonderful glimpse into the early days of baseball and a young Choctaw baseball pitcher with the handle “Chief Whitehorn.”

Although I don’t understand some to the terminology in the newspaper article [ hair pants country ? ], I am most impressed that the journalist mentioned that young Daney was a member of the Choctaw Nation.  Daney could have added that he was also the great-grandson of the Choctaw Chief Alfred Wade, who held that office from 1857-1859.  Wade was also one of the delegates who negotiated the Treaty of 1866.

In the spring of 1928 the Choctaw pitcher Arthur Daney had just been signed by Connie Mack, the legendary  manager for the Athletics, a major league team out of Philadelphia with sky-high aspirations for the 1928 World Series. [The Athletics finally won the World Series in 1929 – it was called the “Mack Attack.”]

Headline-Mack signs Indian Pitcher 1928-pt2

Fort Myers, Florida, Feb. 24, 1928 — Poor Lo, son of the plains, distinguished in bulging store clothes and tight shoes, speaking in well-chosen grammatical English, joined the Athletics today in the person of Arthur Lee Daney, an Oklahoma Indian pitcher known throughout the hair pants country as Chief Whitehorn. Signed by Coach Ira Thomas during a semi-pro tournament held in Denver last fall, the Injun brave reported for his first try out in organized baseball.

But modern duds, stylish head and foot covering cannot hide the fact that Daney is a descendant of the once mighty race that roamed the vast American wilderness and ruled the plains and virgin forests of our continent. All Indians may be chiefs in baseball but Daney has the stature and the mien that one associates with the tribal head of a redskin nation. High cheek bones, an aquiline nose, straight blue-black hair, skin the color of dull copper, makes his face an unmistakable one. The heritage of the Choctaw nation is in his build, the lithe grace of his carriage, the frankness of his eye. It would be easy to picture him stamping a war dance around a campfire clearing in a forest and framing his lips as he emitted a blood-curdling whoop of the warpath.

Arthur Lee Daney sm

A product of Haskell Institute, polished by a nomadic career in independent baseball, Daney looks like quite an athlete. He was born on July 5, 1905 in the tiny village of Talihina, Okla., the baby of six brothers and four sisters. Twenty-two years old, the Mack brave stands 5 feet 11 inches and weighs 165 pounds.

Daney’s father was a full-blooded Choctaw; his mother was half Choctaw and half Irish. Both parents are dead now, gone to Manitou. His brothers and sisters are married, scattered over the West.

Daney’s home is located wherever he can find something to do. Unfettered by marital ties, responsible to no one, he calls home the place where work is to be found.


Chief Daney Dazzles with Sinker

FORT MYERS, Florida, March 12, 1928 – It took Arthur Lee “Chief” Daney several weeks to crash into the headlines. Today at Terry Park, the Choctaw Indian right hander from Oklahoma came into his own

Daney has been hanging around the training camp for three weeks with­out attracting unusual notice. When Connie Mack, veteran leader of the Athletics, decided to cut off games and decided on batting and pitching practice, Daney came under the notice of his boss.

The Indian was in form for the first time. Although he said nothing about it, Daney has had a sore arm and was unable to let loose out on the mound. But today was different.

He flashed a “Sinker,” a ball that started for the batter’s head, then shot downward, at the same time breaking over the corner of the plate.

Speaker, Hauser, Hale and others fell prey to this puzzler which is similar to the famous “Sinker” thrown by Wiley Moore of the Yankees.

~~From The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Tuesday, Mar 13, 1928.


Actually, Arthur was born on July 9,  1904 and had three sisters younger than he was. And his mother Rebecca Daney was listed on the Dawes Enrollment Card #2147 as a full-blood Choctaw. Perhaps it was his father’s second wife Elizabeth Young Brown who was half-Irish as Arthur’s half-brother Perry John Daney had red hair.

Daniel Daney Dawes Card

Arthur Daney played in the minor leagues until 1939. To read his touching memorial written by his daughter, see my blog – The Escapades of Chief Cool ‘Em Off.

To read about the Alfred Wade family, see my blog – At The Edge of the Wilderness.


***YAHOKE, ikana! Thank you, friends. Much GRATITUDE for spending time on a Choctaw Journey with me.***

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