Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer
By Bill Wise
Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
On a Maine summer day in 1884, twelve-year-old Penobscot Indian Louis Sockalexis first fell in love with baseball. As he grew up, Louis honed his skills and dreamed of one day joining a major league team.
Louis encountered opposition at every turn—from the jeers of teammates and the taunts of spectators who thought he had no place in a "white man's sport" to the disapproval of his father, who wanted Louis to focus on tribal life. Louis finally made it to the major league Cleveland Spiders, but racism followed him, until one momentous day in June 1897 at New York's Polo Grounds. Facing off against the most feared pitcher in baseball, Louis proved he belonged in the sport.
Here is the inspiring story of a boy who dared to make his dream a reality. With determination, courage, and quiet dignity, Louis Sockalexis smashed racial barriers and home runs, leaving an indelible mark on America's favorite sport.
Check out educator activities for Louis Sockalexis, a title featured in RIF’s Multicultural Book Collections. To find other free activities that inspire young readers as well as learn more about Reading Is Fundamental, visit us at RIF.org.
For classroom resources, check out the article “Rising Again: Recovering the Story of Louis Sockalexis” by Dr. J. Allen Bryant of Appalachian State University in Social Studies and the Young Learner, a journal from the National Council for the Social Studies.
For further exploration of themes and connections, pair these field trip and activity ideas with Louis Sockalexis.
About the Creators
is the author of Lee & Low’s Louis Sockalexis: Native American Baseball Pioneer, winner of the Carter G. Woodson Book Award and the Children’s Book Award from the International Reading Association. An avid baseball fan, Wise first heard about William Hoy when he was a child. Years later, after further research, Wise was inspired to bring Hoy’s remarkable story to young readers in Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy. In addition to writing books, Wise teaches eighth-grade math and language arts. He and his family live in Gorham, Maine.
is the illustrator of more than fifty children's books. His work has received numerous awards and honors, including Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People, American Bookseller Pick of the Lists, and selection for the Society of Illustrators Original Art Show. Farnsworth's warmly-lit oil paintings gracefully illuminate the Maine landscape and Sockalexis's days on the baseball diamond. Farnsworth lives with his family in Venice, Florida. Visit him online at billfarnsworth.com