The Post-Journal

Caldwell Hit Hard on Mound in 1919 Game - By Lightning

Wearying of conditions in the Yankee camp, where he had carried the pitching burden for an inferior and short-handed club for three years, Ray Caldwell, the present Onoville tavern man, walked out on the American League club in 1914 and joined the newly formed Federal League.

Just what caused the big fellow to rebel has never been made clear, but the Federal League didn't pan out and Ray returned to the Yankee fold without seeing action with the outlaw loop.

He still laughs when he tells of the 1914 move costing him an automobile.

"They were going to give an automobile to the most valuable player on the Yank team and it appeared I had an inside track on the flivver until I pulled up stakes," he explains.

Pitchers in 1914 were not ranked by games won and lost but rather on an earned run basis. Caldwell was seventh in the American Loop with this form of reckoning, the only year it was used.

Good Year in 1915

In 1915 Caldwell won 17 and lost nine with the fifth-place Yanks, pitched 305 innings, facing a total of 1,089 batters. The seasons of 1916 and '17 were patterned after other Yankee years - a definite second division club in more ways than one; the A's of today, would probably be the briefest and clearest way to explain the club the big righthander toiled for during those fruitless years. However, 1916 marked one of the best New York showings prior to the golden days of Ruth, Gehrig and the galaxy of stars Joe McCarthy was to form into one of the greatest winning combinations of all time. The Yanks finished third in 1916 as the Boston Red Sox, champs of '15, repeated with Chicago second.

Hurls No-Hitter

The Yanks traded Caldwell to the Boston Red Sox in 1919 and the Bosox in turn traded him to the Cleveland Indians in August of that year, thus preparing the scene for the grand oldtimer's year of 1920, in which he aided the Indians to their only American League pennant and World Series bunting, as well as hurling a no-hit, no-run game against the club that sold him down the river - the Yankees.

Steve O'Neill, present manager of the Detroit Tigers, caught Caldwell's no-no that year. "He was steady, like a rock - a truly great grabber," Ray said in speaking of his former battery-mate.

The year 1919 marked the first season of Sunday baseball in New York. Chicago got off to a flying start and won the American Loop pennant, edging out the Indians, who were just ahead of the revamped Yankees.

Hit by Lightning

In addition to his no-no against his former mates, Caldwell also passed through one of the strangest experiences to ever befall a player in 1919 when he was knocked down by lightning while pitching.

The freak incident occurred while Ray was hurling against the A's in Philadelphia. There were two outs in the ninth and Cy Perkins was at the plate. The skies were heavy and rain had threatened throughout most of the contest. Suddenly lightning struck a steel rod which ran across in front of the press box, skipped along it with a ball of fire affect, made contact elsewhere and wound up by knocking Caldwell clear off the mound.

The big hurler was dazed and partly unconscious, but soon shook off the stunning blow by his invisible opponent, arose, picked up the ball and glove and was ready to resume. He forced Perkins to roll to the ill-fated Ray Chapman at short for the retiring out that won for the Indians, 2-1.

Go to Part 6


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