by Frank Hyde
July 11, 1945
Part 3 of 7
Highlanders Gave Caldwell One Lone Run in 45 Innings
There then followed a checkered career leading to the 1920 pennant race and the Indians' first bunting, a flag the big fellow from Corydon, PA helped win with his 20-10 record. The Indians whipped the Dodgers in the World Series that year. No other Cleveland team has won the American loop pennant or played in the fall classic.
After dishing up a homerun ball to Harry Hooper of the Boston Red Sox with his very first delivery in the majors in 1911, Caldwell went on to get an even break, 14-14, in his big time debut.
During the next five years, Ray Caldwell matured to greatness. He developed one of the best curves ever to be slanted up to the wedge in a major league ball park, studied as he grew and worked his control to an art, yet all the time retaining his greatest weapon - speed.
Great Mound Battles
Like Nap Rucker of the 1914 Dodgers and Buck Newsom of many years later, the Corydon man was destined to spend some of his best years with an inferior club.
Connie Mack once remarked: "There is no guessing the heights to which Caldwell might have soared had he been with even an average ball club."
At one time the big fellow blanked all opposition for 45-innings. During that five-game stretch the Highlanders got him one run and he made it stand for a victory over the Detroit Tigers.
The foregoing incident will serve to give the reader an idea of what the Pennsylvania master was up against, at a time when, hurling for a runless outfit, he was competing with such immortals as Chief Bender, Eddie Plank, Smokey Joe Wood, Ed Walsh and Walter Johnson.
Conditions in the Highland camp were such that Ray pitched every fourth day through the 1911 season, striking out 145 batters in 225 innings, played the outfield and took an occasional jaunt to the platter as a pinch hitter when he wasn't in the starting lineup. Quite a contrast to the way a promising rookie would be handled today, isn't it?
Fifth In 1912
The Highlanders had a rare year in 1912, winding up in fifth place and principally because Caldwell pitched his heart out, being sent to the hill out of turn many times to face the league leaders and giving up but 196 hits for 111 runs.
Two of the greatest thrills of his long tenure in the big show came in 1912, both against Philadelphia and Ray, still lean and fit as a fiddle, chuckles when he recalls the incidents.
Pinch hitting for Danny Boone on successive days he hit home runs and on the third day, whiling toiling on the hump against the A's he won his own ball game by hitting one out of the park with the bases loaded.
His feat for thrill No. 2 has probably never been equaled in the majors. During the summer of 1912 he was called in as a relief hurler against Connie Mack's great murderer's row of Strunk, Eddie Collins, and Home Run Baker, the latter two part of the old master's famed $100,000 infield. Ray promptly reared back and fogged his fast 'un through to fan three of the truly great hitters of their day on nine pitched balls!
Background of Color
Straying from the subject at hand for a moment it might be well to mention the years of 1911 and 1912 marked the beginning of big time baseball as we know it today. The Polo Grounds in New York was rebuilt at a cost of $500,000, and the Giants promptly showed the money was not wasted by winning the National League pennant, but bowed to the A's in the World Series four games to two. Philadelphia had beaten the Chicago Cubs in five games the year before and, as we mentioned earlier, were just starting to form into the most potent machine baseball was to know until Caldwell's old Highlanders grew into their Yankee greatness decades later under the masterful guidance of Marse Joe McCarthy.
One of the strangest cases of 1911 was Rube Marquard, the $11,000 lemon of 1909-10 who suddenly developed into one of the greatest southpaws of all time literally pitching the Giants to the National League pennant.
The Giants came in again in 1912, but Mack's A's fell by the wayside as Jake Stahl brought a fine Boston Red Sox gang down the stretch. Harry Hooper, Ray's old nemesis of his debut day, was a big factor in the Bosox' drive that year with a star-studded aggregation composed, among others, of Duffy Lewis, Tris Speaker and Wood, who won 34 and lost only 5. Walter Johnson won 16 consecutive games for the Washington Senators that year to establish an American League record that still stands. Ty Cobb copped the major leagues batting championship with a .410 followed by the immortal Shoeless Joe Jackson of Cleveland, who later went to Chicago and was to be barred for life for his part in the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
Denton (Cy) Young retired from baseball that year; Clyde Milan swiped 88 bases for Washington to overshadow Cobb's former mark of 83.
The year also saw McGraw's Giants, seeking their second World Series pennant, bow to the Red Sox in seven games, shattering another dream the great leader wasn't to see come to his realization until his New York club of 10 years later defeated the Yankees in the first of several great subway series.