The Post-Journal

Ray Caldwell Bid Farewell to Major Leagues After Cleveland-Brooklyn World Series of '20

Ray Caldwell looked across the rolling wooded hills sweeping back from the doorway of his Onoville tavern and told us about the final phases of his brilliant major league career - the 1920 World Series.

"We had a hell of a race," the big fellow said slowly as the picture came sweeping back. "The Yankees and White Sox ran us right down the stretch. We took first on September 3 when Duster Mails beat Washington, 9-5, and didn't lose it until September 15, when the Yanks took over by beating Detroit while we were being blanked by Philadelphia.

"Jim Bagby put us back on top by stopping the Red Sox on September 24 and three days later I beat the Browns to give us the biggest breather we had enjoyed in weeks. The next day, September 28, we clinched the pennant, beating out the White Sox by two and the Yankees by three games. That was three days before the season closed.

"Well, sir, the Dodgers came in seven games ahead of the Giants and 10 out on the Cincy Reds, champs in '19. We opened the series at Ebbets Field with more than 24,000 in the stands, which was some turnout for a baseball game 25 years ago. We gave them Coveleskie with O'Neill catching. Wilbur Robinson of the Dodgers started Rube Marquard, but they couldn't do a thing with our Stan and we won, 3-1.

Caldwell Gets Assignment

"They evened the count the next day by clubbing Bagby, 3-0. George Uhle went in to finish from the sixth, but old Burleigh Grimes and his spitter had us on our heels.

"That night manager Tris Speaker asked me if I would like to tackle 'em the next day. I said, 'Sure,' and there I was, in a World Series game. Didn't have my stuff, though, and had to turn it over to Mails. Sherry Smith, the guy who lost that great 14-inning mound duel with Babe Ruth in the series of 1916, beat us that day.

"Coveleskie won the fourth game for us as we chased four Dodgers pitchers. They started Leon Cadore, remember him? He heroed in that 26-inning game during the regular season of '20.

"Bagby gave us the edge by topping Grimes in the fifth game, 8 to 1, and Mails outpitched Smith in one of the best hurling duels of the series, 1 to 0, and we looked like cinches.

"Speaker came right back with Coveleskie in what proved to be the last game of the series. We played best of nine games that year, you know. Robinson named Grimes, but he couldn't stand the gaff with only one day of rest, and we went in, 3-0."

Goes to Kansas City

The colorful setting of the great 1920 World Series practically drew to a close a long and honorable career in the majors for Ray Caldwell, for the following spring, after winning six and losing a like number, he bid farewell to the big show when the Indians' head office completed a deal that sent him to the Kansas City Blues of the American Association.

He won 22 and lost 12 for K.C. in 1922, and the next year paced the Blues into the Little World Series against Baltimore, winning one game and losing a 1-0 decision to a gangling lefthander who was destined to be one of the greatest southpaws of all time - Lefty Grove.

After toiling for the Blues throughout the 1924 season, the Caldwell's were on the move again in 1925, this time to Little Rock of the Southern Association.

During 1926 Caldwell worked in 43 games, pitching 298 innings and facing a total of 1,150 batters. However, the fortunes of baseball found him going to the Birmingham Barons, where he started twice in the Dixie Series against Dallas and won both of them.

Son Grows Up

During the passing years Ray's son, Jim, had sprouted to manhood and was fast acquiring a reputation as a pitcher. It was while Ray was with the Barons that Southern newspapers gave considerable publicity to the fact the Southern League boasted two father-son combinations: Caldwell and his boy and Dixie Walker, the veteran speedballer, and his son, Fred (Dixie) Walker, whom you'll recognize as the old Brooklyn Blaster of later years.

However, the fond hope of the grand old-timer that the Caldwell name would be carried on in the organized game by his son, was never realized. After pitching throughout this area (in Jamestown several times), Jim reported to Birmingham where his dad was laboring for the Barons.

An injured arm a short time later put the 6-foot, 4-inch youngster, now connected with the Sinclair Oil Company, at Chester, PA, out of baseball.

Bum Leg Floors Ray

During the 1932 season Ray suffered a serious knee injury, underwent an operation and spent more than a year on crutches.

The call of the diamond was strong in the big fellow, however, and like a veteran fire horse jumping at a bell clang, Ray donned uniform again when a touring old-timer's club was formed out of Los Angeles in 1934. The club boasted, in addition to Caldwell, Chief Meyer, the veteran catcher; Ivy Olson, Mike Gazella, formerly with the Yanks, and Chet Thomas, an ex-Boston Brave as well as several former semi-pro and professional stars. The venture did not prove successful, though, and the troupe called it quits one night after a disappointing turnout of spectators in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Then the depression clamped its grip on the land and Ray was forced to take a fling at a little of everything, finally returning to the game he had learned under his step-father's supervision at Salamanca years before - telegraphing.

The step-father, Lewis Archer, served with the Pennsylvania for 34 years as an operator and agent, and when Ray returned to the brass-pounding profession, he landed at Red Wing, where he was handed man-made lightning when the chance to go into the tavern business with another former major-league great - Ty Crandall - came up.

So today, the two veterans, who have lived and loved the game, are making a go of it, as they say down Georgia way, and should any major league players make the Onoville tavern their hunting headquarters when the war is over, which they no doubt will, they will receive a warm welcome from two men who can talk their language.


The additional financial assistance of the community is critical to the success of the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame. We gratefully acknowledge these individuals and organizations for their generous support.

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