Carl Mays
Carl William Mays was a right-handed pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

 in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 from 1915 to 1929. Despite impressive career statistics, he is primarily remembered for throwing a beanball
"Beanball" is a colloquialism used in baseball, for a ball thrown at an opposing player with the intention of striking him such as to cause harm, often connoting a throw at the player's head...

 on August 16, 1920, that struck and killed Ray Chapman
Ray Chapman
Raymond Johnson Chapman was an American baseball player, spending his entire career as a shortstop for Cleveland....

 of the Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians
The Cleveland Indians are a professional baseball team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's American League. Since , they have played in Progressive Field. The team's spring training facility is in Goodyear, Arizona...

, making Chapman one of two people to die from an injury sustained while playing major league baseball, the other being Doc Powers
Doc Powers
Michael Riley "Doc" Powers was an American Major League Baseball player who caught for four different teams from to . He played for the Louisville Colonels and Washington Senators of the National League, and the Philadelphia Athletics and New York Highlanders of the American League...


Playing career

Carl Mays was the son of a Methodist minister. He had a strict upbringing as a child, and his devotion to his faith showed on the field. Much like legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson
Christy Mathewson
Christopher "Christy" Mathewson , nicknamed "Big Six", "The Christian Gentleman", or "Matty", was an American Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher. He played his entire career in what is known as the dead-ball era...

, Mays refused to pitch on Sundays. However, his strict belief in faith didn't always carry over to the playing field. He had a habit of throwing inside to any batter who hugged the plate and despite a stellar win/loss record, Mays usually could be counted on to be among league leaders in the American League in hit batsmen.

In 1915, while a member of the Boston Red Sox, Mays was in a heated confrontation with Ty Cobb
Ty Cobb
Tyrus Raymond "Ty" Cobb , nicknamed "The Georgia Peach," was an American Major League Baseball outfielder. He was born in Narrows, Georgia...

 of the Tigers. Mays had thrown at Cobb each time he came to bat. By the eighth inning, Cobb had had enough. After a close pitch, Cobb threw his bat in Mays' direction calling him a "No Good Son of Bitch!" Mays responded by calling Cobb a "Yellow dog" After order was finally restored, Mays promptly hit Cobb directly on the wrist. The Tigers ended up winning the game 6-1. The incident forever cemented Carl Mays as a head hunter.

Mays pitched with a submarine
Submarine (baseball)
In baseball, a submarine pitch is one in which the ball is released underhand and just above the ground, with the torso bent at a right angle and shoulders tilted so severely that they rotate around a nearly horizontal axis...

 motion (he was nicknamed "Sub"). Mays was also a notorious spitball
A spitball is an illegal baseball pitch in which the ball has been altered by the application of saliva, petroleum jelly, or some other foreign substance....

 pitcher, even though this pitch was legal at the time (Chapman's beaning led partly to its being outlawed; by 1920 teams were restricted to two designated spitballers per staff; after 1920 a full ban was in effect, although various pitchers were given exemptions). On the day that Mays struck Chapman with the fatal pitch, the Indians and Yankees were in a heated race for the league championship. Mays was seeking a personal achievement that day. If he were to win, it would be his 100th career victory.

The Yankees were trailing when Ray Chapman came to the plate in the 5th inning. Chapman by all accounts was having a decent game. He had a sacrifice bunt in the first inning, and popped up to Yankees first baseman Wally Pipp
Wally Pipp
Walter Clement Pipp was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball, now best remembered as the man who lost his starting role to Lou Gehrig at the beginning of Gehrig's streak of 2,130 consecutive games....

 in the third. Angered that Chapman was crowding the plate, Mays let loose with a high fastball that Chapman apparently never saw. The impact of the ball striking Chapman in the head was loud, to the point that Mays caught the ball as it bounced, and threw it to Pipp, standing on first. Chapman fell to the ground twice trying to make his way to first base. Cleveland teammate and long time friend Tris Speaker
Tris Speaker
Tristram E. Speaker , nicknamed "Spoke" and "The Grey Eagle", was an American baseball player. Considered one of the best offensive and defensive center fielders in the history of Major League Baseball, he compiled a career batting average of .345 , and still holds the record of 792 career doubles...

 raced from the on deck circle to check on Chapman. He was joined by several players from the Indians and Yankees. Mays, however, never left the mound.

Mays did not attend the funeral of Ray Chapman. According to what he told reporters, "I knew the sight of his silent form would haunt me forever." However, Carl Mays had few friends willing to support him. Even Ty Cobb, who like Mays wasn't well liked, felt that Mays deserved no pity. Without directly saying so (to words traced to Cobb are "Give the man a taste of his own medicine, I say"), Cobb inclined that opposing pitchers should throw at Mays when ever he came to bat. Cobb had few friends in baseball, and Ray Chapman was one of them.

Angered at the attacks by the press (Cleveland newspapers called for Mays to be banished from the game) Mays went on the offensive. Mays blamed umpire Tommy Connolly, saying the ball had a rough spot, and should never have been used in the first place. The American League umpires were outraged, saying that Mays himself would always roughen up the surface by dragging and rubbing it on the ground. If there was a rough spot on the ball, that has been lost to history. The ball was tossed away during the game, and has never been found. Both leagues adopted a new rule that any ball that was dirty or roughed had to be replaced by a brand new ball. Mays didn't stop at attacking the umpires in order to defend himself in the court of public opinion. Now Mays found himself the most hated man in all of baseball.

In a 15-year career with the Boston Red Sox
Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox are a professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts, and a member of Major League Baseball’s American League Eastern Division. Founded in as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox's home ballpark has been Fenway Park since . The "Red Sox"...

, New York Yankees
New York Yankees
The New York Yankees are a professional baseball team based in the The Bronx, New York. They compete in Major League Baseball in the American League's East Division...

, Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are a Major League Baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the National League Central Division. The club was established in 1882 as a charter member of the American Association and joined the National League in 1890....

, and New York Giants
San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants are a Major League Baseball team based in San Francisco, California, playing in the National League West Division....

, he compiled a 207-126 record with 29 shutout
In team sports, a shutout refers to a game in which one team prevents the opposing team from scoring. While possible in most major sports, they are highly improbable in some sports, such as basketball....

s, 862 strikeout
In baseball or softball, a strikeout or strike-out occurs when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters....

s and a 2.92 earned run average
Earned run average
In baseball statistics, earned run average is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine...

 when the league average was 3.48. Mays won twenty or more games five times during his career. He was also noted for his skills with a bat
At bat
In baseball, an at bat or time at bat is used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average, on base percentage, and slugging percentage. It is a more restricted definition of a plate appearance...

, hitting five home run
Home run
In baseball, a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to reach home safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team in the process...

s, recording 110 runs batted in
Run batted in
Runs batted in or RBIs is a statistic used in baseball and softball to credit a batter when the outcome of his at-bat results in a run being scored, except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play. The first team to track RBI was the Buffalo Bisons.Common nicknames for an RBI...

, and sporting a lifetime .268 batting average
Batting average
Batting average is a statistic in both cricket and baseball that measures the performance of cricket batsmen and baseball hitters. The two statistics are related in that baseball averages are directly descended from the concept of cricket averages.- Cricket :...

—an unusually high mark for a pitcher. Mays is the only Red Sox pitcher to toss two nine-inning
Inning is a municipality in the district of Erding in Bavaria in Germany....

 complete game
Complete game
In baseball, a complete game is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game without the benefit of a relief pitcher.As demonstrated by the charts below, in the early 20th century, it was common for most good Major League Baseball pitchers to pitch a complete game almost every start. Pitchers were...

 victories on the same day, as he bested the Philadelphia Athletics
1918 Philadelphia Athletics season
The Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 52 wins and 76 losses.- Regular season :In 1918, the A’s Elephant Mascot turned up on the regular uniform jersey for the first time.- Roster :...

 12-0 and 4-1 on August 30, 1918.

Mays enjoyed his best season in 1921
1921 in baseball
-Headline Events of the Year:*First radio broadcast of the World Series.*Babe Ruth breaks Roger Connor's All-Time Home Run record of 138.-Champions:*World Series: New York Giants over New York Yankees -MLB statistical leaders:...

, when he led the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 in win
Win (baseball)
In professional baseball, there are two types of decisions: a win and a loss . In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. Only...

s (27), innings pitched
Innings pitched
In baseball, innings pitched are the number of innings a pitcher has completed, measured by the number of batters and baserunners that are put out while the pitcher on the pitching mound in a game. Three outs made is equal to one inning pitched. One out counts as one-third of an inning, and two...

 (336.2), games pitched
Games pitched
In baseball statistics, games pitched is the number of games in which a player appears as a pitcher; a player who is announced as the pitcher must face at least one batter, although exceptions are made if the pitcher announced in the starting lineup is injured before facing a batter, perhaps while...

 (49), and winning percentage
Win (baseball)
In professional baseball, there are two types of decisions: a win and a loss . In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. Only...

 (.750). However that same season Mays, pitching then for the Yankees
1921 New York Yankees season
The New York Yankees season was the 19th season for the Yankees in New York and their 21st overall. The team finished with a record of 98-55, winning their first pennant in franchise history, winning the American League by 4½ games over the previous year's champion, the Cleveland Indians. New York...

, played in a World Series
1921 World Series
In the 1921 World Series, the New York Giants beat the New York Yankees five games to three. This was the last of the experimental best-five-of-nine series....

 that others later would accuse him of helping to throw, bringing back still-lingering memories of the Black Sox scandal
Black Sox Scandal
The Black Sox Scandal took place around and during the play of the American baseball 1919 World Series. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were banned for life from baseball for intentionally losing games, which allowed the Cincinnati Reds to win the World Series...

 from just two years prior. These rumors were never proven, but they persisted long enough that, combined with an already negative reputation among other players both from the Chapman incident and from having a personality that few found agreeable, he was never elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame
National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum is an American history museum and hall of fame, located at 25 Main Street in Cooperstown, New York, operated by private interests serving as the central point for the study of the history of baseball in the United States and beyond, the display of...

 despite having lifetime statistics comparable to some other pitchers who were.

Later years

After his playing career, Mays served as a scout for Cleveland and Milwaukee clubs. Carl Mays died in El Cajon, California
El Cajon, California
-History:El Cajon is located on the Rancho El Cajon Mexican land grant made in 1845 to María Antonia Estudillo, wife of Miguel Pedrorena. In 1876 Amaziah Lord Knox , a New Englander who had recently moved to California, established a hotel there to serve the growing number of people traveling...

. His distant cousin, Joe Mays
Joe Mays
Joeseph Emerson Mays is a former Major League Baseball right-handed pitcher.Mays is a 1994 graduate of Southeast High School in Bradenton, Florida. He also attended Manatee Community College in Bradenton. He and his wife, Melinda , have two children.Mays began his major league career with the...

, was a recent major league pitcher.


In August 2008, Mays was named as one of the ten former players that began their careers before 1943 to be considered by the Veterans Committee
Veterans Committee
The Veterans Committee is the popular name of the National Baseball Hall of Fame Committee to Consider Managers, Umpires, Executives and Long-Retired Players, a committee of the U.S...

 for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009
Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, 2009
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 2009 proceeded according to revised rules enacted in 2001 and further revamped in 2007. The Baseball Writers Association of America held an election to select from among recent players...


Further reading

The book The Pitch That Killed, by Mike Sowell
Mike Sowell
Mike Sowell is a sports historian and the author of three baseball books, including The Pitch That Killed about Ray Chapman and Carl Mays. Named a Notable Book of the Year by The New York Times in 1989, and winner of the CASEY Award for best baseball book of 1989, The Pitch That Killed tells the...

, is a history of the Chapman-Mays events.

The historical novel, The Curse of Carl Mays, by Howard Camerik, also recounts the history of the incident.

The children's book, Ray and Me by Dan Gutman
Dan Gutman
Dan Gutman is an American author from New Jersey. A prolific writer, Gutman has written 80 books, both fictional and non-fictional, under publishers including Penguin Books, Macmillan, Scholastic Press, and HarperCollins...

, tells of Joe Stoshack and his journey to save Ray's life from Mays' "killer" pitch.

The book 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York by Lyle Spatz, Steve Steinberg, Charles C. Alexander, takes a look at how Mays had social problems with his teammates and how that actually led him to be sold to the Yankees from the Red Sox.

See also

External links

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