Ray Chapman - Killed by a Pitch
The Cleveland Indians defeated the New York Yankees in this game, played on August 16, 1920, in the Polo Grounds. However, this infamous box score also tells the sad story of Ray Chapman , who was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays , then died the following day.
Through today, Ray Chapman remains the only Major League Baseball player to die from an injury received during a Major League Baseball game. Chappie's death led Major League Baseball to establish a new rule, instituted in 1921, requiring umpires to replace the ball whenever it became dirty.
Pitchers, during that time in baseball history, commonly dirtied baseballs with soil, licorice, and tobacco juice, and / or scuffed, sandpapered, and cut them, which in turn "helped" the ball move more erratically.
Carl Mays threw a submarine pitch towards that plate that sailed directly at the head of Ray Chapman . When the ball hit Chapman directly in the left temple, the sound was so loud Mays thought it had hit Ray's bat, so he fielded the ball and threw to first base!
Ray Chapman fell to his knees. Blood was coming out of his left ear. He was mumbling while lying on the ground. Ray eventually regained consciousness and was helped off the field by his teammates, as he was unable to walk by himself. He did not speak.
Chapman was taken to the hospital where Doctors literally removed a small part of his fractured skull due to a massive amount of blood that had built up in his brain. Ray died at 4:40 am. His pregnant wife Katie arrived at 10am and fainted when she was told Chappie had died.
"Boys, you all know how I loved Ray Chapman . If there is such a thing as genuine affection and love between men it existed between Chappie and me. He was a wonderful character, and I am not disparaging any of you when I say he was the best friend I ever had. But Ray is gone. He will never come back. We have suffered many heartaches and have grieved until it has gotten on our nerves to such an extent that we go around as if in a trance. We must pull ourselves together. We owe it to ourselves, to our employer, Jim Dunn, to the fans of Cleveland, and to Chappie himself, to do just that. We still have a fighting chance to make up the ground we have lost and finish on top. It was Chappie's ambition, to be a member of a pennant-winning team. Shall we let that ambition pass along with him? He was certain we would win the glad. The best and most lasting tribute we can pay him is to win the pennant and have his name enrolled on the list of American League winners for 1920. We can do it. Let's do it for Chappie !" - Tris Speaker in The Brooklyn Daily Eagle (Ed Bang, Do It for Chappie Slogan Brought The Indians Back to the Top 09/23/1920, Page 2)
Cleveland Indians 4, New York Yankees 3
|New York Yankees||IP||H||R||ER||BB||SO|
E –Ward (13), Ruel (5). DP –New York 1. Pipp. 2B –New York Bodie (21). HR –Cleveland O'Neill (3,4th inning off Mays 0 on). SH –Chapman (41); Coveleski (7); Ruel (7). HBP –Chapman (2). Team LOB –6. Team –6. U –Tommy Connolly, Dick Nallin. T –1:55. A –21,000.
Ray Chapman laid down a sacrifice bunt in the first inning. Ray Chapman grounded into a double play in the third inning. Ray Chapman died in the fifth inning. Chappie was hit on his temple by a Carl Mays pitch, immediately dropped to the ground bleeding from his left ear, then was taken to the hospital, where he died the following day. The newspaper story and much more about Ray Chapman are on his page. The box score:
Ray Chapman HBP Box Score | The Chicago Tribune | August 17, 1920, Page 15
Did you know that after Ray Chapman had died, the Cleveland Press wrote, " Carl Mays has demonstrated that he does not possess the proper control to continue as a pitcher in the American League. So far this year, Mays has his six batsmen. Since Mays entered the league in 1914, he has hit 55 batsmen. His control is so poor that it is a menace to the welfare of baseball."
Carl Mays Banishment | The Evening Star | August 17, 1920, Page 18
Fred Schwed, Jr., in How to Watch a Baseball Game (1957) wrote our favorite baseball box score quote, "The baseball box score is the pithiest form of written communication in America today. It is abbreviated history. It is two or three hours (the box score even gives that item to the minute) of complex activity, virtually inscribed on the head of a pin, yet no knowing reader suffers from eyestrain."