The Post-Journal

Caldwell Heads For Cleveland And Another Eye Operation; Talks of Cobb And Old Days

Ray Caldwell headed for Cleveland yesterday and a second eye operation and as the Cleveland righthand ace of 1920 and thereabouts, passed through town he had a word or two about Ty Cobb: "I pitched to him a lot of times… always had luck against Ty... He was a tough one, don't you ever forget that, far greater than most great hitters before or since." A man asked: "How'd you do against Cobb?" Ray, never one to present the Caldwell cause too forcibly, shrugged it off: "I guess we were about even, but as I said, I seemed to get the breaks against Cobb."

Ray, one of baseball's greatest hitting pitchers who went right from his present home, Onoville, to the big time, recently had cataracts removed from one eye. The Cleveland Indians, proving baseball does have a heart, is footing the bill this time as the first operation. Caldwell will be at Lakeside Hospital. How about dropping him a card?

The conversation got around to Cobb, who died recently, when it was mentioned the Georgia Peach denied in his biography of being a rough 'un on the lanes.

"Well the man is dead. Why should I say anything against him?" Ray answered a question by asking one himself. "After all, I couldn't say much against him when he was alive - when he was playing. He got a little mean at times, especially when the pressure was on. He played to win. But we all did in those days. Only thing was, Ty got a little more wrapped up in his work than most."

A man asked about Ray and Ty personally, "Well, Ty hollered to me once and threatened to cut 'your damn legs off.'" What happened the man persisted. "Someone told me Ty got mad when you brushed him back by throwing at his feet," Ray laughed. "So I threw at his feet. Boy was he roarin' mad, but I told him where he could go (it wouldn't look nice in print, but you know what I mean) and that seemed to settle it. He didn't start out after me like he did some fellows." Ray's size might have had something to do with Cobb's lack of aggressiveness that day. They called Caldwell "Slim" in those days, but he stood 6-2 and weighed 195.

Ray, born at Corydon, near here, went from his home area sandlot baseball to McKeesport and right on to the New York Highlanders, forerunners of the Yankees, in 1910.

An amazing hitter, he played the outfield almost daily when not pitching. Traded to Boston in 1919, he gained double measure of revenge on his old mates by pitching a no-hit, no-run game against the Yanks on September 10, 1919. Then, a day or so later, he stole home with the winning run to beat them 1-0. Caldwell went to Cleveland late in '19 and remained there through '21. He was in the 1920 World Series against Brooklyn and was in the Cleveland dugout when the ill-fated Ray Chapman (modern big league baseball's only death) was killed when hit by a pitched ball.

Athletic heroes of the yesteryears always came under the poet's pen. Ray was no exception. Here's one a scribe with the unusual moniker of "Right Cross" presented in the magazine "From Ringside to Bleachers" in 1920:

Slim Caldwell

When it comes to sudden switching,
And they need some heady pitching,
Or the chances of the Yanks are pretty dim,
You can hear the bleacher bellow:
"Better can that other fellow,
If you want to win the game, just call Slim."

When the moments get to flitting,
And they need some real pinch hitting,
Then an anxious gleam appears in Wild Bill's glim,
"Say this isn't golf," he mutters,
"And I've got no use for putters
So I guess I'll have to send the call for Slim."

There he slouches cool and grinning,
In the straining crucial inning,
For there's nothing in the world that bothers him,
With a careless swing he meets it,
Like a streak of light, he beats it,
Something happens when they send the call for Slim.

He's the reinforcing propping,
When the Yankees take to dropping,
He's a bunch of nerve and made to order vim,
It is certain while they've got him
That the Yanks won't hit the bottom,
When they're in the hole, they simply call on Slim.

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