Chamberlain, Ellsbury, and Lohse Bring Native Pride to the Diamond
It has been a minute since I have composed anything of note for The Bleacher Report and for my first piece after a long absence I thought I would write about something that has made me feel very proud.
But before I get into all that, what the heck was James Taylor doing performing before last night's NBA finals? The NBA is a hip-hop league is it not? I was expecting Ray J, but James Taylor?
It has been explained to me that I am of Native American descent, Cherokee to be exact.
I learned early into this baseball season that there were only three active major league baseball players who check the box next to Native American on their job application (if they ever had to fill one out).
New York Yankees fireballing phenom Joba Chamberlain, the Boston Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, and St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Kyle Lohse.
Joba's father, Harlan was born on an American Indian reservation in Nebraska. Chamberlain starred for the Nebraska Cornhuskers before being selected by the Yankees in the second round of the 2006 MLB Draft.
While his first action as a starter this season did not go exactly as planned, Chamberlain has the potential to become a dominant starting pitcher.
While I feel he is best suited to become a Hall of Fame worthy closer one day with afast ball that has been clocked in 100 mph range and a wicked slider that has caused some of baseball's best hitters to look Bush League. His boss the obnoxious blow-hard Hank Steinbrenner hold the keys to his bright future.
Ellsbury of Navajo descent was originally drafted out of high school by the Tampa Bay Ray (can you imagine him in their outfield right now), he did not sign with the Rays and ended up playing his college ball at Oregon State, the two-time defending National Champions.
Ellsbury ended up being taken 23rd overall by the BoSox in 2005 MLB Draft. He quickly made a name for himself in Boston batting .438 in the World Series and endearing himself to the fans with his speed and all out hustle.
This season Ellsbury has continued to capitalize on his post-season heroics by batting .284 with 4 home runs and 28 stolen bases. He is also becoming a nightly fixture on Web Gems for his outstanding defensive play.
Lohse, who was signed by the Cardinals shortly before the season had began, has been somewhat of a surprise for the "Birds on Bat."
Lohse who started the season strong, not allowing an earned run in his first two starts has become a steady presence in the Cardinals rotation this season and is quickly becoming a fan-favorite amongst the Cardinal faithful.
The signing of Lohse by the Cardinals at first was seen as that of being a stop-gap until one of the three injured St. Louis pitchers, (Chris Carpenter, Mark Mulder, and Matt Clement) returned to the rotation.
But with already 6 wins this season and and ERA under 4.00 he has caused Cardinals management to be patient with their injured stars, not pushing them to hurry back before they are fully healed and ready to pitch again at the Major League level.
Lohse, who is a free agent after the season, could be looking at a huge pay increase if his level of play remains constant.
These three ball player have brought hope and inspiration to Native American ball players in the United States and Canada who overcome long odds to make it into the show or even be drafted.
Their sudden rise has inspired me and made me feel proud of my heritage, there has not been very many role models who young American Indians can look up to.
These three young menare some of the few brights spots that has occured since Jim Thorpe was dominating the sports world like a young Bo Jackson.
After the hundred of years of oppression and racial stereotypes Native Americans have endured since Andrew Jackson became the 7th President of the United States, the performance of three players can make people forget about the years of negativity.
Albeit very briefly.
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