Ed Rice gets to make a 2nd pitch

Posted May 24, 2009, at 9:48 p.m.

COOPERSTOWN, New York — Just two months before Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Ed Rice is welcomed into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Maine journalist, college instructor and author Ed Rice will have his “at-bat” here when he speaks at the Hall’s 21st annual Baseball Symposium, set for June 3-5.

After speaking at the Iroquois Museum in nearby Howes Cave, N.Y., last summer as part of a program commemorating that museum’s exhibition celebrating the pioneer players in professional baseball, Rice was approached by Jim Gates, director of the Baseball Hall of Fame Library and coordinator of the Hall’s annual symposium. Gates asked Rice if he’d be willing to put together a panel that would address Native American issues related to baseball.

In a talk Rice gave at the symposium back in 2005 he challenged the Baseball Hall of Fame for failing to properly celebrate the pioneer players and not acknowledging the racism those player endured. It is Rice’s contention Louis Sockalexis of the Penobscot Nation broke the “color barrier” 50 years before Jackie Robinson and rarely, if ever, receives recognition or credit.

Rice will appear as part of a panel he helped create. The panel will present under the title of “Chiefly Shameful — From Chief Bender to Chief Nockahoma and Chief Wahoo: Baseball’s Historical and Continuing Mistreatment of Native Americans.”

An adjunct instructor at Eastern Maine Community College, University College of Bangor and the New England School of Communications, Rice is the author of Baseball’s First Indian, Louis Sockalexis: Penobscot Legend, Cleveland Indian. He will present a talk entitled: “Oran, Visner, Toy or Sockalexis? — Who Deserves Credit for Being ‘First’ and How Do We Fairly Make the Call?”

Other panelists include: Joseph Oxendine, Lumbee tribe member, Chancellor Emeritus of the University of North Carolina-Pembroke, and author of American Indian Sports Heritage; Jeffrey P. Beck, professor of English and associate dean of graduate studies, East Tennessee State University, and author of American Indian Integration of Baseball; Michael Taylor, Seneca Nation member, and assistant professor of anthropology and Native American Studies, Colgate University.

Rice recently published a book on Andrew Sockalexis, second cousin of Louis. Andrew finished second in the Boston Marathon in 1912 and 1913 and was fourth in the marathon at the Olympic Games of 1912. The new book is called “Native Trailblazer, Andrew Sockalexis: Penobscot Indian who followed the Maine running path to glory and tragedy.”

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