Ray Chapman
Raymond Johnson Chapman was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 player, spending his entire career as a shortstop
Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball fielding position between second and third base. Shortstop is often regarded as the most dynamic defensive position in baseball, because there are more right-handed hitters in baseball than left-handed hitters, and most hitters have a tendency to pull the...

 for Cleveland
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...


He is the second of only two 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...

 players to have died as a result of an injury received in a game (the first was Mike "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...

 in 1909); Chapman was hit in the head
"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...

 by a pitch
Pitch (baseball)
In baseball, a pitch is the act of throwing a baseball toward home plate to start a play. The term comes from the Knickerbocker Rules. Originally, the ball had to be literally "pitched" underhand, as with pitching horseshoes. Overhand throwing was not allowed until 1884.The biomechanics of...

 thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays
Carl Mays
Carl William Mays was a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. Despite impressive career statistics, he is primarily remembered for throwing a beanball on August 16, 1920, that struck and killed Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, making Chapman one of two people to die...

. His death led Major League Baseball to establish a rule requiring umpires to replace the ball whenever it became dirty. His death was also one of the examples used to emphasize the need for wearing batting helmet
Batting helmet
A batting helmet is the protective headgear worn by batters in the game of baseball or softball. It is meant to protect the batter's head from errant pitches thrown by the pitcher...

s (although the rule was not adopted until over 30 years later). His death was partially the reason MLB banned the 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....

 after the 1920 season.


Chapman was born in Beaver Dam
Beaver Dam, Kentucky
Beaver Dam is a city in Ohio County, Kentucky, United States. The population was 3,033 at the 2000 census. It is named for nearby Beaver Dam Creek.-Geography:Beaver Dam is located at ....

, Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

 and raised in Herrin
Herrin, Illinois
Herrin is a city in Williamson County, Illinois, United States. The population was 12,501 at the 2010 census. It is home to Country Musicstar David Lee Murphy, the hometown of baseball's Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman, and the hometown of San Diego State University men's basketball coach Steve...

, Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

. He broke into the Major Leagues in 1912 with the Cleveland
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...

 team, then known as the Naps.

Chapman led the American League in runs scored and walks
Base on balls
A base on balls is credited to a batter and against a pitcher in baseball statistics when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls. It is better known as a walk. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, and further detail is given in 6.08...

 in 1918. A top-notch bunter, Chapman is sixth on the all-time list for sacrifice hits and holds the single season record with 67 in 1917. Only Stuffy McInnis
Stuffy McInnis
John Phalen "Stuffy" McInnis was a first baseman and manager in Major League Baseball.McInnis gained his nickname as a youngster in the Boston suburban leagues, where his spectacular playing brought shouts of "that's the stuff, kid".From 1909-27, McInnis played for the Philadelphia Athletics ,...

 has more career sacrifices
Sacrifice hit
In baseball, a sacrifice bunt is a batter's act of deliberately bunting the ball in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base. The batter is almost always sacrificed but sometimes reaches base due to an error or fielder's choice...

 as a right-handed batter. Chapman was also an excellent shortstop who led the league in putout
In baseball statistics, a putout is given to a defensive player who records an out by one of the following methods:* Tagging a runner with the ball when he is not touching a base...

s three times and assists
Assist (baseball)
In baseball, an assist is a defensive statistic, baseball being one of the few sports in which the defensive team controls the ball. An assist is awarded to every defensive player who fields or touches the ball prior to the recording of a putout, even if the contact was unintentional...

 once. He batted
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 :...

 .300 three times, and led the Indians in stolen base
Stolen base
In baseball, a stolen base occurs when a baserunner successfully advances to the next base while the pitcher is delivering the ball to home plate...

s four times. In 1917, he set a team record of 52 stolen bases, which stood until 1980. He was hitting .303 with 97 runs scored when he died. He was one of the few players whom 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...

 considered a friend.

There was conjecture that 1920 was going to be Chapman's last year as a pro baseball player. Shortly before the season began, Chapman married Kathleen Daly, who was the daughter of a prominent Cleveland businessman. Chapman had indicated he was going to retire to devote himself to the family business he was marrying into, as well as to begin a family.


At the time of Chapman's death, "part of every pitcher's job was to dirty up a new ball the moment it was thrown onto the field. By turns, they smeared it with dirt, licorice, tobacco juice; it was deliberately scuffed, sandpapered, scarred, cut, even spiked. The result was a misshapen, earth-colored ball that traveled through the air erratically, tended to soften in the later innings, and as it came over the plate, was very hard to see."

This practice is believed to have contributed to Chapman's death. He was struck by a pitch by Carl Mays
Carl Mays
Carl William Mays was a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. Despite impressive career statistics, he is primarily remembered for throwing a beanball on August 16, 1920, that struck and killed Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians, making Chapman one of two people to die...

 on August 16, 1920, in a game against the 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...

 at the Polo Grounds
Polo Grounds
The Polo Grounds was the name given to four different stadiums in Upper Manhattan, New York City, used by many professional teams in both baseball and American football from 1880 until 1963...

. Mays threw 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...

 delivery, and it was the top of the fifth inning, in the late afternoon. Eyewitnesses recounted that Chapman never moved out of the way of the pitch, presumably unable to see the ball. "Chapman didn't react at all," said Rod Nelson of the Society of American Baseball Research. "It was at twilight and it froze him." The sound of the ball smashing into Chapman's skull was so loud that Mays thought it had hit the end of Chapman's bat, so he fielded the ball and threw to first base.

The book Ray and Me, by Dan Gutman, says that after Mays threw the ball to first, the fielders threw it around the diamond. Chapman then took three or four steps before he collapsed. Mike Sowell's book, The Pitch That Killed, however states that 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....

 caught Mays' throw to first and then realized something was very wrong. Chapman never took any steps, but rather slowly collapsed to his knees and then the ground with blood pouring out of his left ear. The umpire quickly called for doctors in the stands to come to Chapman's aid. Eventually Chapman was able to stand and try to walk off the field, but he could not speak when he tried to do so, but only mumbled. As he was walking off the field his knees buckled and he had to be assisted the rest of the way. Chapman died 12 hours later in a New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 hospital, at about 4:30 A.M. He was replaced by Harry Lunte
Harry Lunte
Harry August Lunte was a Major League Baseball shortstop. Lunte played for the Cleveland Indians in the 1919 and 1920 seasons. In 49 career games, Lunte had 29 hits, nine RBIs, two doubles, and a .196 batting average...

 for the rest of the game.

In tribute to Chapman's memory, Cleveland players wore black arm bands, with manager
Manager (baseball)
In baseball, the field manager is an individual who is responsible for matters of team strategy on the field and team leadership. Managers are typically assisted by between one and six assistant coaches, whose responsibilities are specialized...

 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...

 leading the team to win both the pennant and the first World Series Championship
1920 World Series
-Game 1:Tuesday, October 5, 1920 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York-Game 2:Wednesday, October 6, 1920 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York-Game 3:Thursday, October 7, 1920 at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn, New York-Game 4:...

 in the history of the club. Rookie Joe Sewell
Joe Sewell
Joseph Wheeler Sewell was a Major League Baseball infielder for the Cleveland Indians and New York Yankees...

 took Chapman's place at shortstop, and went on to have a 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...

 career (which he coincidentally concluded with the Yankees).

Ray Chapman is buried in Lakeview Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery
Lake View Cemetery is located on the east side of the City of Cleveland, Ohio, along the East Cleveland and Cleveland Heights borders. There are over 104,000 people buried at Lake View, with more than 700 burials each year. There are remaining for future development. Known locally as "Cleveland's...

 in Cleveland
Cleveland, Ohio
Cleveland is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio and is the county seat of Cuyahoga County, the most populous county in the state. The city is located in northeastern Ohio on the southern shore of Lake Erie, approximately west of the Pennsylvania border...

, Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

, not far from where his new home was being built on Alvason Road in East Cleveland
East Cleveland, Ohio
East Cleveland is a city in Cuyahoga County, Ohio, United States, and is the first suburb of Cleveland, Ohio. The population was 17,843 at the 2010 census....

. He and his wife visited the home as it was being built several hours before he departed for New York City on his final road trip.


Not long after Chapman died, a bronze plaque was designed in his honor. The plaque features Chapman's bust framed by a baseball diamond and flanked by two bats, one of them draped with a fielder's mitt. At the bottom of the tablet is the inscription, "He Lives In The Hearts Of All Who Knew Him." The plaque was dedicated and hung at League Park
League Park
League Park was a baseball park located in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. It was situated at the northeast corner of Lexington Avenue and E. 66th Street in the Hough neighborhood. It was home to the National League Cleveland Spiders, the American League Cleveland Indians, and the Cleveland...

 and later at Cleveland Stadium
Cleveland Stadium
Cleveland Stadium was a multi-purpose stadium, located in Cleveland, Ohio. In its final years, the stadium seated 74,438, for baseball and 81,000, for football. It was one of the early multi-purpose stadiums, built to accommodate both baseball and football...

 before being taken down for unknown reasons.

Jim Folk, Indians' Vice President of Ball Park Operations, said, "It was in a store room under an escalator in a little nook and cranny. We didn't know what we were going to do with it, but there was no way it was just going to stay there when we moved to Jacobs Field. We had it crated up and put on a moving truck and it came over along with our file cabinets and all the other stuff that came out of the stadium."

In February 2007, the neglected plaque was re-discovered by workers cleaning out a storage room at Jacobs Field. Covered by years of dust and dirt, the bronze surface had oxidized a dark brown; the text was illegible. The plaque was refurbished and hung in Heritage Park, an exhibit of Indians history at Progressive Field.

External links

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