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Chief Bender
Batted: Right Threw: Right
Born: May 5, 1884
MLB Debut
April 20, 1903 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Final game
July 21, 1925 for the Chicago White Sox
Career Statistics
Win-Loss     212-127
ERA     2.46
Strikeouts     1711
Career Highlights and Awards
  • Led league in Winning percentage (3x)
  • Won 20 or more games (2x)

Charles Albert "Chief" Bender (May 3, 1883 1 - May 22, 1954) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball during the first two decades of the 20th century. He is also a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Bender was born in Crow Wing County, Minnesota as a member of the Ojibwa tribe - he faced discrimination throughout his career, not least of which was the stereotyped nickname ("Chief") by which he is almost exclusively known today. After graduating from Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Bender went on to a stellar career as a starting pitcher from 1903 to 1917, primarily with Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics (though with stints at the end of his career with the Baltimore Terrapins of the short-lived Federal League, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Chicago White Sox).

Over his career, his win-loss record was 212-127, for a .625 winning percentage (a category in which he would lead the American League in three seasons). His talent was even more noticeable in the high-pressure environment of the World Series: in five trips to the championship series, he managed six wins and a 2.44 ERA. In the 1911 Series, he pitched three complete games, which set the record for most complete games pitched in a six-game series. He also threw a no-hitter in 1910. Bender holds a World Series record which likely never will be equaled or broken - 9 consecutive complete games pitched (one more than Bob Gibson. Bender is one of 4 players (all pitchers) to appear in 5 World Series for the same team - a team other than the Yankees or Dodgers. The others are Jim Palmer (Orioles), Tom Glavine (Braves), and John Smoltz (Braves).

Bender was well-liked by his fellow players. Longtime roommate and fellow pitcher Rube Bressler called him "One of the kindest and finest men who ever lived." He was greatly respected for his quiet demeanor was well known for handling racial taunts gracefully. When fans heckled him or greeted him with war whoops on the field, he would answer them by cupping his hands around his mouth and shouting, "Foreigners! Foreigners!" He left baseball in 1918 to work in the shipyards during World War I. He came back to coach for the Chicago White Sox and even made a cameo appearance in his final major league game in 1925. But his heart remained tied to Philadelphia. Mack kept him on the Athletics' payroll as a scout, minor league manager or coach from 1926 until Mack retired at the end of the 1950 season.

Bender was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1953, less than one year before his death. In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.


1There has uncertainty about Bender's exact birthdate. He was voted the SABR "Centennial Celebrity" of 1983, as the best baseball player or figure born in 1883. However, the SABR Baseball Research Journal for 1983 indicates that his sister obtained a birth certificate in 1942 denoting an 1883 birth year. Most newspaper obits and "Facts oin File" obituaries at the time of his death have supported the 1883 birth year (it originally was listed as 1884).

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