Aug 17, 1920-Chapman dies from beaning
Submitted by BTGrimes on Fri, 08/17/2012 - 7:00am
The Ray Chapman tragedy
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman died in a New York hospital on this date in 1920 after being beaned in a game the night before. He is the only player in major league history to die because of action on the field.
Ray Chapman was having a fine career with the Cleveland Indians - the only team he ever played for. He was their regular shortstop. He had a .278 batting average through nine seasons. He was known to be a good base stealer.
Chapman came to bat in the top of the 5th in the Polo Grounds in New York on August 16, 1920. Carl Mays was pitching for the Yankees. Mays was described as having an underhand delivery. Both Mays and Chapman were right-handed so a typical curve would have broken away from Chapman. Instead one of Mays pitches must have tailed inside striking Chapman in the head.
Mays was known to throw a spitball, which was a legal pitch at the time. A report in the San Antonio Evening News of August 17, 1920 said, "The crack of the ball hitting his head could be heard all over the Polo Grounds." Chapman was rushed to St. Lawrence Hospital in New York. Doctors decided to operate at around midnight, but were unable to save him. He died early in the morning of August 17, 1920.
The Indians were in first place at the time of Chapman's death and went on to win the American League pennant and the World Series.
[Public domain photo. Source: www.battersbox.ca]
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