The New York Yankees are rich in heritage. And Allie Reynolds was one of the greatest players of Native American heritage to ever play the game of baseball.
Reynolds was a member of the “Creek Nation” of Oklahoma. Proud of his heritage, Reynolds never liked the nickname that he was given. He felt that a “Chief” was too important of a title for any player to bare.
Because of this, his teammates would call him Allie when he was around. But they called him Chief when he was not.
And at the top he was. In his first year with the Yankees, Reynolds had the best winning percentage in the American League. He even had two no-hitters in the same season in 1951. A year later, he won a career-high 20 games, leading the American League in ERA at 2.06, strikeouts with 160, and shutouts with six. Reynolds was an All-Star six times altogether. During his career he averaged 17.5 wins per season, 14 complete games per year and 232 innings a season.
With the recent controversies over the Washington Redskins’ name, and the Cleveland Indians’ logo, it is unclear to what extent Native American references will be allowed in sports going forward. This is because the way of the Native American was to respect its people, rather than to draw attention to oneself. This philosophy can be traced to a popular Indian prayer :
Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.
I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.
And Allie Reynolds lived this creed without exception.