April 07, 2008

Baseball comes to Suquamish

Suquamish Baseball:  A Team of Their OwnIt's believed that when white settlers landed on what are now Kitsap County shores in the 1850s in search of timber, they brought with them a game that natives took to quickly. Two photographs from the late 1800s—one in Tribal Council member Chuck Deam's office, the other hanging in the tribe's museum—show men holding what appear to be baseball bats.

Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman, who played on a famed Suquamish softball team in 1984, said an early native game played on tide flats in areas like Indianola was probably similar to baseball or lacrosse.

"Baseball wasn't a big jump for them," he said.

By the 1920s, the tribe's baseball teams had found critical acclaim and international success. That's when a promoter with sporting goods company Spalding discovered the Suquamish nine, and set up a trip a half a world away where they could showcase their talents against Japanese college squads, which were the most prestigious teams at the time.

"In their efforts to secure an all-Indian ball team for the trip, the promoters have tried out practically every Indian ball team on the coast," reads an August 10, 1921 article from the Bremerton Searchlight, "and the fact that the Suquamish team was finally chosen is a considerable boost for the local players."

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