The Second Chief: The Story Of John "Chief" Meyers

Bleacher Report Senior Writer IOctober 31, 2008

When you think of Indian baseball players, the name that pops into mine and your head is Chief Bender. Bender was an incredible pitcher. He had 212 wins, 127 losses, a 2.46 earned run average and was the big game pitcher of the great Philadelphia Athletics.

Meyers wasn't a power hitter, but one of the greatest pure hitting catchers of his time. Since Bender rose to become one of the best pitchers of all time, Meyers is unappreciated and a forgotten one.

One sports writer wrote about Meyers, "A strong love of justice, a lightning sense of humor, a fund of general information that runs from politics to Plato, a quick, logical mind, and the self-contained, dignified poise that is the hallmark of good breeding-he is easily the most remarkable player in the big leagues."

I don't know about the most remarkable player in the big leagues, but he managed to hit .291 with the Giants, Dodgers and Red Sox in nine seasons, so that is good.

John Tortes Meyers was born on July 29, 1880 in Riverside, California, across the country from Bender in Crow County, Minnesota. Since his dad died when he was seven, Meyers mom became an influential person in his life.

Meyers attended Riverside High School and played semipro baseball throughout the Southwest. In 1905, he caught the attention of Ralph Glaze. Glaze attended Dartmouth College at the time and played for the Boston Americans from 1906 to 1908 as a pitcher.

Meyers, a catcher, played for Dartmouth in 1905 and 1906 and got help in school from tutors in various subjects. The 25-year-old catcher signed a contract with Harrisburg of the independent Tri-State League. Meyers, like Bender, was not only a great Indian ball player, but was a heck of a nice man.

In 1909, he had his contract purchased by the New York Giants. As a rookie, he had one home run, 40 RBI and a .271 batting average, good numbers for a rookie Indian catcher.

The next year, he had a great year, with 62 RBI and a .285 batting average. His defense was great, as was his New York Giants, led by John McGraw and pitcher Christy Matthewson.

From 1911 to 1913, he finished in the top ten in MVP voting. In 1911, he had 61 RBI and an amazing .332 batting clip. In 1912, he had 54 RBI and a .358 batting clip. In 1913, he had 47 RBI and a .312 batting clip. However, he lost each year. In 1911, the award was given to Frank Schulte, followed by Larry Doyle and Jake Daubert.

He had one more fine season in 1914, with 55 RBI and a .286 batting average. He looked tired, though. Fans could tell it.

He showed his tiredness the next year, when hit just .232, a career low. After being traded to Brooklyn and then Boston, he returned home to California. He lived the quiet life for 54 years until he died in San Bernardino, California.

Don't forget Chief 2.