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NINE: A Journal of Baseball History and Culture 12.2 (2004) 177-180

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Collins, Bender, Chase

Bill Kirwin

White Sox playing manager Eddie "Cocky" Collins (left) and pitcher Charles Albert "Chief" Bender reunite for a cameo appearance in Chicago in 1925. Bender was forty-one years old when this picture was taken and had been out of Major League ball since 1917; Collins was thirty-eight and was playing in his twentieth Major League season in a career that would extend to twenty-five years. Both players enjoyed their greatest success with the Philadelphia Athletics during Connie Mack's first dynasty (1910-14), when the A's won four pennants and three world championships.

A Native American, Bender referred to himself as Charles and never as "Chief." Mack always called him Albert and said that of all the pitchers he managed in his half century at the helm of the A's, no one was better at winning a crucial game than Bender. Ty Cobb called Bender the smartest pitcher that he ever faced. Winner of 212 games and with a lifetime ERA of 2.46, he is most remembered for inventing the slider in 1910. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1953.

A twenty-five-year Major League career, 3,315 base hits, and a lifetime batting average of .333 guaranteed Collins election to the inaugural group of players to be selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1939. His defensive statistics were equally impressive. No player has played more games at second base nor has handled more chances or made more assists.

In 1907 The Sporting News thought that the New York Highlanders (later to be called Yankees) first baseman Harold Chase was the player baseball fans wanted most to see. The charming left-handed thrower and right-handed batter was considered the best-fielding first baseman of the deadball era, which earned him the title "Prince Hal." He was a lifetime .291 hitter and led the National League in batting in 1916, but his on-field performance may have been only an indication of how great a player he would have been had he chosen to play the game to the best of his abilities. On numerous occasions he conspired [End Page 177] to throw games, and although baseball officials often chose to look the other way when he dove for a line drive and just missed it, or swung and missed a fat curve, he quickly earned the reputation of a dishonest player who combined guile and audacious behavior to evade detection. Although Chase eventually became, unofficially, a persona non grata in baseball circles, Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis chose to not punish him for knowing about the 1919 World Series scandal, despite the fact that testimony indicated that he won $40,000 by betting on Cincinnati. He went to his grave in 1947 never admitting any transgressions. [End Page 178]

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Eddie Collins and Charles "Chief" Bender (1925). (Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, New York.)

[End Page 179]

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Harold Homer "Prince Hal" Chase. (Photo courtesy of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Library, Cooperstown, New York.)



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