The Post-Journal

Caldwell Won 20 For Tribe In '20; Started In Series; Colorful Career

Ray Caldwell's World Series background is not as illustrious as that of Hugh Bedient, but few men had a more colorful diamond career than the tall farm boy from Corydon and Onoville.

Twenty-three years in the pro game took little of the farm lad out of Ol' Slim and when the end came he hied himself back to the Allegany foothills.

It was a long road - Corydon to McKeesport, the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees), on to the Boston Americans, Cleveland, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Little Rock and Memphis. Then on to Birmingham, Atlanta, Charlotte and finally Keokuk, an Iowa hamlet in the old Missouri Valley League - end of the line.

Passes 74

Ray turned 74 last April and, like Bedient, lives a quiet life in Onoville.

Caldwell's career was pin-pointed through and through with the bizarre and colorful.

There was the night he was pitching against the A's in Philly, for instance, when a bolt of lightning knocked him flat. Ray had two men out in the ninth, so he got up, staggered around a few minutes, then fanned the last one.

"They didn't rush you to sick bay with every excuse in those days," he grinned years later when reminded of the event.

"How about that," a bystander put in. "Suppose a bolt of lightning knocked Whitey Ford down while he was pitching for the Yankees... Gee whiz, they'd have in the hospital for a week running tests."

Colorful Events

Ray's no-hitter against the Yankees, his old teammates, is part of the record books, of course. He hated the Yanks after they sold him to Boston, so the big man always stood a little taller on the hill or at bat when he opposed the Bronx Bombers.

The "at bat" is right, for Ray was quite a hitter - in fact he played the outfield between pitching assignments pretty consistently.

He was an outfielder the day he stole home with the winning run to beat the Yanks, 1-0, in another phase of his personal vendetta with the New Yorkers.

Ray won 20 for Cleveland in '20 and was one of Manager Tris Speaker's top hands going into the Series against Brooklyn.

Not Ray's Day

Speaker called on Caldwell to start the third game at Brooklyn on October 7, but it wasn't Ray's day. The Dodgers got to him for two runs in the first and that was it - a 2-1 loss.

Two dramatic highlights marked the 1920 Series. Elmer Smith of the Indians hit the first grand-slam homer in Series play and Bill Wambsganss made the only unassisted triple play in the fall classic.

In later years, the big, affable Caldwell has been a man of many trades.

Never without a host a friends, he realized just how many he had when blindness crept up on him two years ago. Lions Club members at Randolph decided to do something about it. They staged a monster chicken barbecue, sent Ray to Cleveland where a specialist contributed his services to a vital operation that forestalled the gathering shadows.

"I never knew people could be like this," Ray said in Cleveland when they took off his bandages. It makes you feel like you'd pitched a no-hitter."


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