Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Being a Baseball Player is Dangerous Too

As discussed yesterday, being a fan is dangerous, but is it as dangerous to be a player?

I had always heard that Major League Baseball had only had one on-field fatality, but according to the internet that number is actually two, if you count Doc Powers. I'm not sure why you wouldn't count Doc Powers except that it took him two weeks to die of internal injuries suffered from crashing into a wall chasing a pop-foul. He was a member of the American League's New York Highlanders (now the Yankees), and the ill-fated injury happened on April 12, 1909 in a game against the Athletics in Philadelphia's Shibe Park.

Truth be told, after several intestinal surgeries to attempt to repair the injury, he died of "peritonitis arising from post-surgery infections". But if "the doctors killed him" defense didn't work for Charles Guiteau, it doesn't get MLB off the hook either.

The second (and often referred to as "the only") Major League Baseball in-game death was of course Ray Chapman. On August 16, 1920, while playing for the Cleveland Indians, Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch from New York Yankees' hurler Carl Mays. (Apparently death follows the Yankees.) He died 12 hours later at the hospital.

Chapman had made no attempt to get out of the way of the pitch, leading some to believe he never saw it because it was scuffed up and it was twilight. It made such a loud sound hitting his head, that Mays believed Chapman had hit the ball, fielded it as it bounced towards him, and threw it to first. Chapman was also notorious for crowding the plate and Mays known for not being afraid to pitch inside. (I'd swear I read somewhere the umpire said "If it hadn't hit him, it would have been a strike", but I can't find a source to back that up.) It all proved a deadly combination.

The spitball, which was already being phased out of the game, would be eliminated all together after that season (save for a few pitchers who were grandfathered in), as was the practice of dirtying up new balls when put into play. It would be another 25 years before batting helmets were mandatory.

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.