Early 1910's Jim Thorpe Race Worn Carlisle Track Uniform. Born on May 28, 1887 to the daughter of the last great Sauk and Fox chief Black Hawk, a revered warrior and athlete, James Francis Thorpe was given the Indian name Wa-Tho-Huk, which translates to "Bright Path." It was a name that few would ever hear, but one that would prove to be perfectly fitting. The American political philosophy of Manifest Destiny had already decimated the population of Native Americans in our ever-expanding nation, and marginalized those who survived its brutality. Through this enforced segregation, Thorpe found his way to the Carlisle Industrial Indian School in rural Pennsylvania in 1904 at age sixteen. It was there that his phenomenal athletic career began, as a member of the school's track and football teams, and that he fell under the tutelage of gridiron legend Glenn "Pop" Warner during eight years on campus. The pieces that would construct Thorpe's immortality started to fall into place.

    While the legend of Jim Thorpe began to grow within the collegiate athletic world during the later years of the twentieth century's first decade, it was 1912 that saw his conversion to international superstar. At the 1912 Stockholm Olympic Games, a twenty-four year old Thorpe dominated the pentathlon and decathlon, earning Gold in each and his proudest compliment from King Gustav of Sweden, who said to him, "Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world. I would consider it an honor to shake your hand." Thorpe's reply: "Thanks, King."

    Presented for the first time upon the hobby's auction block is an extraordinary track and field uniform worn at Carlisle by Thorpe late in his collegiate career, near the time of his Hall of Fame glory. Though Thorpe would continue on to professional careers in both football and baseball, the relevance of a track uniform outweighs any attributed to Thorpe from these sports, though only a few exist from any athletic endeavor. We are confident in the assertion that this stands as the only confirmed Thorpe track and field uniform surviving to this day, and it is accompanied by extensive photographic documentation picturing the Native American super-athlete wearing this outfit or one identical to it.

    The uniquely tailored wool tank top jersey provides a period "A.G. Spalding & Bros." label at interior collar and a distinctively constructed red letter "C" on the chest. Sewn at the interior hem is a size "44" indicator and a 1.5" swatch to the right with a faintly stamped "Thorpe" applied in orange block lettering. The matching shorts cannot be definitively attributed to Thorpe due to a lack of identifiers, but the size "30" specimen with matching "Spalding" labeling is precise in its aesthetics to those Thorpe is wearing in the provided photographs. Both pieces survive their century of retirement with remarkable aplomb, with no significant flaws to note.

    The uniform derives from the finest track and field collection known to exist, sold to our consignor by the son of the original collector after his passing. The "Bullet Bob" Hayes uniform presented within this auction likewise originates from this collection. LOA from Heritage Auctions.

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    Auction Dates
    August, 2010
    5th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 7
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