On this Thanksgiving, we honor the Native Americans who played for the Cubs…
~Ben Tincup 1893 (Cubs 1928)
Tincup may be the only Native American player in the early 20th century who wasn’t nicknamed Chief. He was a Cherokee. He was also a World War I veteran. His big league career began before the war (with the Phillies). After he served in the military, he pitched in the minor leagues with Louisville for eight years before he got his one last shot with the Cubs in 1928. Ben pitched out of the bullpen in the last month of the season. That was it for his return to the big time. Tincup may have only won eight Major League games in parts of four seasons spread over fifteen years, but he was a legend in the minor leagues. In 23 seasons he won 233 games.
~Virgil Cheeves 1901 (Cubs 1920-1923)
Cheeves was part-Cherokee, and in the politically incorrect 1920s, his teammates nicknamed him “Chief”. To be fair, nearly every Native-American to ever play the game was given the same nickname. Virgil’s best season was 1922 when we won 12 games and posted an ERA of 4.09.
~Vallie Eaves 1911 (Cubs 1941-1942)
Vallie was part Cherokee Indian, so naturally his teammates called him “Chief”. Eaves was a pitcher. In 1941, he completed four of his seven starts and posted a respectable 3.53 ERA. It was really his last hurrah in the big leagues. He appeared in two more games in 1942, but the rest of his career was spent in the minor leagues. Eaves was 46 years old when he retired in 1957. He was 48 when he died in 1960.
~Cal Mclish 1925 (Cubs 1949, 1951)
Calvin Coolidge was the president at the time of McLish’s birth, and was widely regarded as the most boring man to ever serve in that capacity. Despite that, the young couple in Oklahoma named their son after him, and added a few more names for good measure. Not sure how they managed to fit it all on the birth certificate. The boy’s name was Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish. When he grew up, Cal McLish pitched for the Chicago Cubs (in 1949 and 1951). His time with the Cubs was nothing to write home about, but he blossomed a few years later. In 1958 he won 16 games for the Cleveland Indians. In 1959, he won 19, and was named to the All-Star team. McLish passed away in 2010 in his native Oklahoma.