Ray Chapman

  • Card series: Diamond Heads '15
  • City: Cleveland
  • Team: Naps
  • League: American League

Raymond Johnson Chapman (1891-1920) is the only big leaguer to be killed by a baseball. He was beaned on a late Cleveland afternoon, probably blinded by the setting sun and the earth-colored ball so carefully doctored by the pitchers of that era. Indeed, MLB responded to Chapman’s tragic death with rules against spitters and all manner of doctored balls. Chapman had played only for Cleveland, anchoring the infield at short and setting some team and league records that still stand. And he was truly loved, a cheerful bundle of energy befriended by the greats of his day (Al Jolson, Will Rogers) and by the nearly friendless Ty Cobb. The newlywed Chapman had wanted to retire before the 1920 season but stayed on out of loyalty to new manager Tris Speaker, his best man.

  • Averaging a solid .278 for his nine year career, Chapman was hitting .304 at his death
  • Led the AL in walks and runs (84 each) in the war-shortened ’18 season
  • Still ranks sixth all-time in sacrifices

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