The Post-Journal

Randolph Man Was Top Winning Pitcher On Yankees' Cellar Club 53 Years Ago

"We were the real 'Hitless Wonders' of our time," Ray Caldwell chuckled in recalling the 1913 New York Yankees, the last Yankee club to drop into the American League cellar until Manager Ralph Houk's 1966 club sagged to the depths the other day. "Yes, sir, we batted something like .193 as a team and we never got started under Frank Chance," Caldwell added in referring to the basement Yanks of 53 years ago.

Caldwell, whose later tenure was with the Boston Red Sox and pennant-winning Cleveland Indians of 1920, is now living in retirement with Mrs. Caldwell at Randolph. Ray, born at Corydon, PA, is the last of the area produced "big name" ex-big leaguers still making his home in this sector of Western New York.

The 1913 Yankees came out with a new name and a new manager after finishing in the basement in 1912. The club had been known as the Highlanders under Manager Harry Wolverton. The name Yankees was adopted for the 1913 season and Frank Chance, the former "Peerless Leader" of the Chicago Cubs, where he was part of the immortal Tinkers-to-Evers-to-Chance double play combination, took over at the helm.

But Highlanders or Yankees, it made no difference. The club dropped into the second division early in the eight-team league and never recovered, finally beating out the St. Louis Browns in the battle of the basement to wind up seventh.

The Yanks of 1913 finished with a 57-94 record and the Browns 57-96, so there's a chance Houk's present machine will be the all-time humpty-dumpties of Yankeedom on a percentage basis in the present 10-team league. The modern Yanks went into yesterday's competition with a 62-81 record.

The Highlanders turned Yankees had one distinction - their three top pitchers were Ray: Ray Caldwell, Ray Fisher and Ray Keating. Just how bad the club was is shown by Caldwell's statistics. He finished with a 2.40 earned run average yet lost eight games while winning nine. His 9-8 was the only winning record compiled by Chance's pitching staff. So futile was the attack that his mates got Caldwell a lone run over one 42-inning span and he made it stand up for a 1-0 victory over Detroit.

Pitchers who could hit played as regulars in those days. Figures on Caldwell would shock today's high-salaried, pampered elbowers who either start or relieve, seldom pinch hit and would probably die of shock if asked to play any position other than pitch. Caldwell was in 102 of the 1913 Yankees' 151 games either as a pitcher, outfielder, or pinch hitter.

Chance and Caldwell did not hit it off well, and during the winter of 1913 Ray jumped to Buffalo of the so-called "outlaw" Federal League. He signed with Buffalo but never joined the club, ultimately hopping back to the Yankees, who fared much better in 1914 (70-84) but still wound up seventh with Caldwell compiling a 17-8 record and a 1.94 ERA for Chance and his managerial replacement Roger Peckinpaugh.

Thus, Caldwell was actually in on the birth of the growing Yankee dynasty, for he remained with the New Yorkers through 1918. The 1915 club finished fifth and continued to flirt with the first division until '18 when little Miller Huggins led the team to its first fourth-place finish in eight years. After 1918, the Yanks continued to bloom as a major American League power until 1921 when, still under Huggins, they won the first of three consecutive pennants.

And after 1921 - well, even the youthful baseball addicts of today know how the Yankees humbled the rest of the American League year after year - 29 pennants through 1964; five in a row twice and 14 flags in 16 seasons. "Maybe we started something at that," Caldwell reflected.

It seems someone did.


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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