Robert Charles “Charlie” Roy was one of the most sought after prospects in the country in the winter of 1905. Raised on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, Roy was a pitcher for the Carlisle Indian School baseball team.
The Minneapolis Journal said of the 21-year-old:
“He has been pitching altogether four years, and he puts remarkable speed into the ball.”
In December of 1905, it was reported that Roy was about to sign with the Cincinnati Reds, but just days later he chose to return to Carlisle
In March, it was announced that Roy had signed a contract with the Phillies on the recommendation of Pittinger. The Philadelphia Record said Pittinger compared the pitcher’s abilities to those of one of Roy’s childhood friends, another Carlisle product:
“He thinks Roy has every earmark of developing into one of the best pitchers in either major league, and predicts for him as bright a baseball career as that of (Chief) Bender.”
Cincinnati protested the signing and claimed Roy had “Verbally agreed,” to a contract the previous December and belonged to Reds. As the National League considered which team he belonged to, Roy worked out with Phillies.
Any thought that he’d instantly join the team and be the next Bender was dispelled by Phillies Manager Hugh Duffy who was quoted in The Pittsburgh Press that Philadelphia would not appeal if Cincinnati won the claim because:
“Roy lacks the experience necessary to make him a success in the big league. He is still green, and until the greenness wears off he will be of no value to big league team.”
The National League ruled that Roy was the property of Philadelphia, and regardless of Duffy’s assessment he made his debut for the Phillies in late June. Roy only appeared in seven games, posted a 0-1 record with a 4.91 ERA and was sent to the Newark Sailors in the Eastern League.
He was 2-4 with Newark and was 2-4 again early in 1907 when he was released by the Sailors. He signed with the Wilmington Peaches of the Tri-State League, although there is no record of him appearing in a game. He finished the 1907 season with the Steubenville Stubs in the Pennsylvania-Ohio-Maryland League, appearing in 15 games.
Despite dropping from the Major Leagues to a class “D” league in 18 months, the 23-year-old pitcher was still considered a good prospect. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette said after he won his first start for the Stubs, a 7-2 three-hitter against the Braddock Infants:
“He has plenty of speed and fine curves and looks like a winner.”
But near the close of the 1907 season it was clear he’d never be another Bender. Despite being drafted by Boston Doves, The Associated Press reported that he would refuse to report to the National League club in the spring:
“Charlie Roy, The Indian Twirler…has quit baseball to go into the evangelist field.”
Some papers reported the pitcher’s decision more impoliticly.
The Harrisburg Telegraph:
“(Roy) says he has had all the National League game he wanted, and rather than report he will go back to the plains and throw mud balls at his fellow Indians.”
The Sporting Life:
“(Roy) intends to forsake the diamond after the close of this season and equip himself for evangelistic labors among the redskins of the Northwest.”
Roy returned to the White Earth Reservation to preach and eventually settled in Blackfoot, Idaho where he died in 1950.
A shorter version of this post appeared on October 30, 2012.