Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series

Contenders: Two Native Baseball Players, One World Series
Co-Authors / Illustrators
Age Range
Release Date
April 11, 2023
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The true story of John Meyers and Charles Bender, who in 1911 became the first two Native pro baseball players to face off in a World Series. This picture book teaches important lessons about resilience, doing what you love in the face of injustice, and the fight for Native American representation in sports.

Charles Bender grew up on the White Earth Reservation in Northwestern Minnesota. John Meyers was raised on the Cahuilla reservation in Southern California. Despite their mutual respect for each other's talents and their shared dedication to Native representation in baseball, the media was determined to pit them against each other.

However, they never gave up on their dreams of being pro baseball players and didn’t let the supposed rivalry created by the media or the racism they faced within the stadium stop them. They continued to break barriers and went on to play a combined total of nine championships.

With text by Traci Sorell and illustrations by Arigon Starr that brings these two players to life, the stories of John Meyers and Charles Bender remain an inspiration for achieving and maintaining one’s dreams in the face of prejudice.

Editor review

1 review
Baseball greats: John Meyers and Charles Bender
Overall rating
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Learning Value
Contenders is about John Meyers and Charles Bender, two Native Americans that played on competing teams during the 1911 World Baseball Series. They could not just be good baseball players like their teammates. They faced constant racism due to their heritage by fans, media, and their colleagues. Despite the unequal treatment, both were excellent players and had many accomplishments during their careers. The book switched between both players' early life and baseball accomplishments which was sometimes confusing to keep straight since both were unfamiliar to me. The book points out that many of the team names and mascots still use Native American imagery that is disrespectful to their culture. Overall, this book is good for baseball fans and shows a positive representation of a minority group.
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