BOOK REVIEW – “Chief Bender’s Burden”

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“Chief Bender’s Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star” by Tom Swift

"Chief Bender's Struggle" book cover

When I started reading “Chief Bender’s Burden: The Silent Struggle of a Baseball Star” by Tom Swift, I was immediately drawn into the story of the life of NDN All-Star #5 Charles Albert “Chief” Bender (Ojibwe), a famous baseball pitcher from the early 1900s. The book not only talks about Bender’s amazing baseball career but also about the tough times he faced because of his race and background.

Charles Bender, called “Chief,” (as most Native American ball players at the time were) was a star pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics. The book talks a lot about his pitching skills, his best games, and how he helped his team win. (A little known fact – Chief Bender was the inventor of the Slider – a pitch that is a mainstay in baseball to this day.) But what makes this book special is how it talks about Bender’s life away from baseball. For instance, he was an excellent shot and won many shooting tournaments.

One thing I really liked about the book is how well Tom Swift researched and told Bender’s story. He describes what it was like to be at the baseball games, how the teams worked, and what life was like back then. It made me feel like I was actually there, watching Bender pitch.

As Bender was a Native American, he faced a lot of racism and discrimination. The book shows how hard it was for him to deal with people judging him because of his background instead of his talent. His strength and determination to keep going, even when things were tough, are really inspiring. Bender’s story shows that he was not just a great player but also a strong and brave person.

The book covers Bender’s life from his early days in Minnesota, to his time at Carlisle Industrial School, to his major league career, and his life in baseball after his playing days were over. His Hall of Fame career is well detailed, and his reliability as a clutch pitcher is shown again and again. One great quote that stuck with me about Bender came from none other than Hall of Fame manager Connie Mack, who said: “If everything depended on one game, I just used Albert – the greatest money pitcher of all time.” Swift also describes Bender’s baseball knowledge and intellect when he describes Bender’s time as a coach.

Swift writes in a way that is easy to understand and interesting to read. The book is good for anyone who likes baseball or is interested in American history and social issues. It moves at a good pace, and you can tell that Swift really cares about Bender’s story.

“Chief Bender’s Burden” is a powerful and thought-provoking book. It shines a light on an important but often overlooked figure in baseball history. Tom Swift has written a great tribute to NDN All-Star #5 Charles Bender, and I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for an inspiring and educational read.

You can get your own copy of this book here.



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