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Tour Through Time

Tour Through Time: Remembering the short life of Jim Thorpe Jr.

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Jim Thorpe Jr

This photo from 1915 shows Jim Thorpe Sr. cradling his firstborn son and namesake. 

Nothing was too good for Jim Thorpe Jr.

Born May 18, 1915, the boy was about 3 months old when he visited Southcentral Pennsylvania with his father, the world renowned athlete.

Jim Thorpe Sr. was an outfielder on the Harrisburg International League baseball team. The former student of the Carlisle Indian School was the replacement for a player injured earlier in the season.

“Jim will get the best education that can be had,” Thorpe said of his son. “There’s nothing too good for the boy, I can tell you.”

It was late August 1915 and Harrisburg had just played a doubleheader against the club from Providence, Rhode Island, during the Thorpe Day celebration on present-day City Island.

The week before, The Sentinel reported that seating arrangements had been made to allow Indian school students to watch the champion alumni in action.

The Cumberland Valley Railroad offered a special excursion rate so that local residents could attend the games. Harrisburg won the first game 4-3 while Providence won the second game 9-4.

Three years later, newspapers across the country reported the news that Jim Thorpe Jr. died on Sept. 28, 1918, at the family home in Oklahoma. At that point, Jim Thorpe Sr. played for the New York Giants baseball team.

“Junior, as he was familiarly called by the players, was a great favorite at the Polo Grounds,” The Washington Herald reported on Sept. 30. “He was 3 years old and gave the fans and players great delight when prancing about the grounds during practice.”

Jim Thorpe Sr. had left New York for Oklahoma on Sept. 21. He arrived just days before his son passed away.

Tour Through Time runs Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, feature or tips to jcress@cumberlink.com.

Email Joseph Cress at jcress@cumberlink.com.

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