Carl William Mays (November 12, 1891 – April 4, 1971) was a right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1915 to 1929. Although he won over 200 games, 27 in 1921 alone, and was a member of four world championship teams, Mays is primarily remembered for throwing the beanball that killed Ray Chapman of the Cleveland Indians on August 16, 1920. Chapman became the only Major League player to die as a direct result of an on-field injury.
|Born: November 12, 1891|
|Died: April 4, 1971 (aged 79)|
El Cajon, California
|April 15, 1915, for the Boston Red Sox|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 24, 1929, for the New York Giants|
|Earned run average||2.92|
|Career highlights and awards|
According to his World War I draft card, Carl William Mays was born November 12, 1891, in Atterson, Kentucky, one of five sons born to Callie Louisa Mays and William Henry Mays. His father was a Methodist minister, and was responsible for his strict religious upbringing. When Mays was 12, his father died and his mother moved the family to Kingfisher, Oklahoma to live near her sister-in-law. Mays internalized his grief, settling into a surly persona with few if any close friends. His best personal support group was a couple named Pierce and Genevieve Mays, who were relatives, and served as a surrogate uncle and aunt. As a professional baseball player, he had few friends in the baseball world. In part because of his strict Methodist upbringing, Mays refused to pitch on Sundays, as did legendary pitcher Christy Mathewson.
Mays quit high school before graduating and began to earn a living as a baseball player on semi-pro teams in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Utah. In 1912, he entered the minor leagues as a member of the Boise, Idaho team in the Class D Western Tri-State League. After a season in Boise, in 1913 Mays played one season for the Portland, Oregon team in the Class A Northwest League. In 1914, Mays was drafted by the Triple-A International League's Providence Grays. The Grays were an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, and the Tigers sold his contract to the Boston Red Sox.
In one version of the story, Mays learned his underhand style of pitching from Dizzy Dismukes, a pitcher in Negro league baseball. In another, he was taught the technique by Joe McGinnity when McGinnity coached the Tacoma team during Mays's stint with Portland. Wherever he learned to pitch underhanded, he was successful; Mays was nicknamed "Sub", a reference to his submarine pitching motion, and he was known to throw a spitball. The pitch was legal at the time of the Chapman incident, but Chapman's death was partly responsible for its ban in Major League Baseball. Mays was also known for a habit of throwing inside to any batter who hugged the plate; despite a stellar win/loss record, he was typically among the American League leaders in hit batsmen. Mays was also regarded as an exceptional fielder, and was capable enough with the bat that he was often used as a pinch-hitter.
In his rookie season of 1915, Mays appeared in 34 games for the Red Sox. Used mostly in relief, he won 6 games and lost 5. During the regular season, Mays was involved in a heated confrontation with Ty Cobb of the Tigers. Mays threw near Cobb each time he came to bat. In the eighth inning, after another close pitch, Cobb threw his bat in Mays' direction, calling him a "no good son of a bitch." Mays responded by calling Cobb a "yellow dog." After order was restored, Mays hit Cobb directly on the wrist. The Tigers won the game 6–1 and the incident cemented Mays' reputation as a head hunter. The Red Sox won that year's World Series by defeating the Philadelphia Phillies in five games, but Mays did not play.
In 1916, Mays appeared in 44 games, and started 24. 18 of his starts were complete games, and he posted a record of 18 wins and 13 losses, with an earned run average of 2.39. In the 1916 World Series, Mays was the losing pitcher in game 3, but the Red Sox defeated the Brooklyn Robins 4 games to 1. In 1917, The Red Sox posted a second place finish. Mays pitched in 35 games, and his record was 22 wins and 9 losses, with an ERA of 1.74. Mays went 22-13 in the 1918 season, with an ERA of 2.21. The Red Sox returned to the World Series, and defeated the Chicago Cubs in 6 games. Mays was the winning pitcher in games 3 and 6, both by scores of 2-1.
Mays married for the first time shortly after the end of the 1918 season. After a brief honeymoon in Missouri, he departed by train from his home in Mansfield for St. Louis as the leader of a group of 18 men who had enlisted in the United States Army for World War I. They were sworn in on November 6, five days before the Armistice that ended that war. Influenza broke out while Mays was stationed at Washington University in St. Louis as a member of the Student Army Training Corps's vocational training unit, and several individuals from his train trip died during the outbreak. The Armistice ended the need to expand the Army, and Mays was discharged in time to begin the 1919 baseball season.
Though he was by now established as one of the game's premier pitchers, Mays began the 1919 season with a record of 5 wins and 11 losses. His slow start resulted in the Red Sox trading him to the New York Yankees that July. Mays went 9-3 after the trade, resulting in a combined 1919 record of 14-14. Mays regained his form in 1920. The Yankees finished in third place, but posted a record of 95 wins and 59 losses, only three games out of first place. Mays went 26-11, including 26 complete games.
The Yankees were trailing the Indians when Ray Chapman came to the plate in the fifth inning on August 16, 1920. Mays was pursuing his 100th career win that day. Chapman had a sacrifice bunt in the first inning and popped up to Yankee first baseman Wally Pipp in the third. Angered that Chapman was crowding the plate, Mays let loose with a high fastball that he claimed was in the strike zone but that Chapman apparently never saw. The impact of the ball striking Chapman in the head was so loud that Mays, thinking it had hit Chapman's bat and was in play, caught the ball as it bounced onto the field and threw it to Pipp at first base. Chapman, trying to take his base after the hit by pitch, fell to the ground twice and was unable to get up. Cleveland teammate Tris Speaker raced from the on deck circle to check on Chapman. He was joined by several players from the Indians and Yankees. Mays, however, never left the mound.
Chapman was taken to a hospital, where surgeons operated and discovered a skull fracture. He initially seemed to rally after the surgery but died early in the morning on the following day. Mays stayed in the game and continued to pitch until being replaced in the ninth inning. Cleveland won the game 4-3. The New York District Attorney determined that the incident was an accident, and no charges were filed.
In an interview three months after Chapman's death, Mays expressed regret for the outcome, but stated that he did not feel any guilt because he had not hit Chapman on purpose.
Mays enjoyed his best season in 1921, when he led the American League in wins (27), innings pitched (336.2), games pitched (49), and winning percentage (.750). However, that same season Mays, pitching then for the Yankees, played in a World Series that others later accused him of helping to throw, bringing back memories of the Black Sox scandal from just two years prior. These rumors were never proven, but they persisted long enough that, combined with an already negative reputation among other players both from the Chapman incident and from having a personality that few found agreeable, he was never elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame despite having lifetime statistics comparable to some other pitchers who were.
In a 15-year career with the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Cincinnati Reds, and New York Giants, Mays compiled a 207–126 record with 29 shutouts, 862 strikeouts and a 2.92 earned run average when the league average was 3.48. He won twenty or more games five times. He was also noted for his skills with a bat, hitting five home runs, recording 110 runs batted in, and sporting a lifetime .268 batting average—an unusually high mark for a pitcher. Mays is the only Red Sox pitcher to toss two nine-inning complete game victories on the same day, as he bested the Philadelphia Athletics 12–0 and 4–1 on August 30, 1918. Those wins put the Red Sox one step from clinching the league championship, as they led Cleveland by 3 1/2 games with 4 remaining to play.
After his playing career, Mays was the owner and operator of a baseball school in Oregon; among his most notable attendees was Johnny Pesky. Mays also worked as a scout for the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, and Kansas City Royals. In addition, his stepson, Jerry Bartow, coached baseball at Hoover High School in San Diego, and each spring Mays made the trip from Oregon to volunteer as a mentor and assistant coach. In an interview, Mays said he especially enjoyed working with young pitchers, but that he regarded his most important task as teaching members of the team how to play the game safely.
After the 1918 World Series, Mays married Marjorie Fredricka Madden, a graduate of the New England Conservatory of Music whom he had met during his rookie season. They were the parents of two children, Carl Jr. (1925-2017) and Elizabeth (Betty). He was survived by his second wife, Esther Ugstead (1907-1990).
In August 2008, Mays was one of the ten former players who began their careers before 1943 to be considered by the Veterans Committee for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009. He was named on only about 25 percent of the ballots, so he was not selected for induction.
The book The Pitch That Killed, by Mike Sowell, is a history of the Chapman-Mays events.
The historical novel, The Curse of Carl Mays, by Howard Camerik, also recounts the history of the incident.
The children's book, Ray and Me by Dan Gutman, tells of Joe Stoshack and his journey to save Ray's life from Mays' "killer" pitch.
The book 1921: The Yankees, the Giants, and the Battle for Baseball Supremacy in New York by Lyle Spatz, Steve Steinberg, Charles C. Alexander, takes a look at how Mays had social problems with his teammates and how that actually led him to be sold to the Yankees from the Red Sox.
The 1915 Boston Red Sox season was the fifteenth season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished first in the American League (AL) with a record of 101 wins and 50 losses. The team then faced the National League (NL) champion Philadelphia Phillies in the 1915 World Series, which the Red Sox won in five games to capture the franchise's third World Series.1917 Boston Red Sox season
The 1917 Boston Red Sox season was the seventeenth season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished second in the American League (AL) with a record of 90 wins and 62 losses.1918 Boston Red Sox season
The 1918 Boston Red Sox season was the eighteenth season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished first in the American League (AL) with a record of 75 wins and 51 losses, in a season cut short due to World War I. The team then faced the National League (NL) champion Chicago Cubs in the 1918 World Series, which the Red Sox won in six games to capture the franchise's fifth World Series. This would be the last World Series championship for the Red Sox until 2004.
The Red Sox' pitching staff, led by Carl Mays and Bullet Joe Bush, allowed the fewest runs in the league. Babe Ruth was the fourth starter and also spent significant time in the outfield, as he was the best hitter on the team, leading the AL in home runs and slugging percentage.1918 World Series
The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to 1903. The Red Sox scored only nine runs in the entire Series, the fewest runs by the winning team in World Series history. Along with the 1906 and 1907 World Series (both of which the Cubs also played in), the 1918 World Series is one of only three Fall Classics where neither team hit a home run.
The 1918 Series was played under several metaphorical dark clouds. The Series was held early in September because of the World War I "Work or Fight" order that forced the premature end of the regular season on September 1, and remains the only World Series to be played entirely in September. The Series was marred by players threatening to strike due to low gate receipts.
The Chicago home games in the series were played at Comiskey Park, which had a greater seating capacity than Weeghman Park, the prior home of the Federal League Chicago Whales that the Cubs were then using and which would be rechristened Wrigley Field in 1925. The Red Sox had played their home games in the 1915 and 1916 World Series in the more expansive Braves Field, but they returned to Fenway Park for the 1918 series.
The 1918 World Series marked the first time "The Star Spangled Banner" was performed at a major league game. During the seventh-inning stretch of Game 1, the band began playing the song because the country was involved in World War I. The song would be named the national anthem of the United States in 1931, and during World War II its playing would become a regular pre-game feature of baseball games and other sporting events. The winning pitcher of Game 1 was Babe Ruth, who pitched a shutout.
The 1918 championship would be the last Red Sox win until 2004. The drought of 86 years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino. The alleged curse came to be when Red Sox owner Harry Frazee traded the superbly talented but troublesome Babe Ruth (who was instrumental in their 1918 victory) to the New York Yankees for cash after the 1919 season.
The Cubs would not win their next World Series until 2016. The Cubs, who last won in 1908, won the National League but lost the Series in 1918, 1929, 1932, 1935, 1938, and 1945, and, allegedly stymied by the infamous Curse of the Billy Goat imposed during that latter Series. The Red Sox, who had won the American League but lost the Series in 1946, 1967, 1975, and 1986, finally won the World Series in 2004 and then won again in 2007, 2013 and 2018. When the Red Sox won in 2018 (against the Los Angeles Dodgers), they became the first team to win the Fall Classic exactly one century apart.
After Game 6, it would be some 87 years until the Cubs and Red Sox would play again. A three-game interleague matchup at Wrigley Field began June 10, 2005, and was Boston's first visit to the park. The Cubs would not return to Fenway Park for nearly 94 years until a three-game interleague matchup beginning May 20, 2011.
† For the first time in the Series, all four umpires worked in the infield on a rotating basis. In previous Series from 1909 through 1917, two of the four umpires had been positioned in the outfield for each game, in addition to the standard plate umpire and base umpire.1919 Boston Red Sox season
The 1919 Boston Red Sox season was the nineteenth season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished sixth in the American League (AL) with a record of 66 wins and 71 losses.1919 New York Yankees season
The 1919 New York Yankees season was the 17th season for the Yankees in New York and its 19th overall. The team finished with a record of 80–59, 7½ games behind the American League champion Chicago White Sox. New York was managed by Miller Huggins. Their home games were played at the Polo Grounds.1920 New York Yankees season
The 1920 New York Yankees season was the 18th season for the Yankees in New York and their 20th overall. The team finished with a record of 95–59, just 3 games behind the American League champion Cleveland Indians. New York was managed by Miller Huggins. Home games were played at the Polo Grounds. The Yankees of 1920 were the first team in the history of Major League Baseball to have an attendance of more than one million fans.1921 New York Giants season
The 1921 New York Giants season was the franchise's 39th season, which culminated in the Giants defeating the New York Yankees in the World Series.1921 World Series
The much-anticipated 1921 World Series featured John McGraw's New York Giants, dedicated practitioners of the dead-ball era's "inside game", and the New York Yankees, who relied on the "power game" exemplified by Babe Ruth, who was coming off of what was arguably his best year ever statistically. This was the first World Series appearance by the Yankees, who have gone on to play in the Series a record 40 times. The 1921 Series was a closely contested matchup that ended on a double play featuring a baserunning miscue.1924 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1924 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the National League with a record of 83–70, 10 games behind the New York Giants.1927 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1927 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fifth in the National League with a record of 75–78, 18½ games behind the Pittsburgh Pirates.Beanball
"Beanball" is a colloquialism used in baseball, for a ball thrown at an opposing player with the intention of striking them such as to cause harm, often connoting a throw at the player's head (or "bean" in old-fashioned slang). A pitcher who throws beanballs often is known as a "headhunter". The term may be applied to any sport in which a player on one team regularly attempts to throw a ball toward the general vicinity of a player of the opposite team, but is typically expected not to hit that player with the ball. In cricket, the equivalent term is "beamer". Some people use the term, beaner, though that usage is discouraged because of the negative connotations associated with that usage.George Whiteman
George (Lucky) Whiteman (December 23, 1884 – February 10, 1947) was an outfielder in Major League Baseball, playing mainly as a left fielder for the Boston Americans (1907), New York Yankees (1913) and Boston Red Sox (1918) between the 1907 and 1918. Listed at 5' 7", 160 lb., Whiteman batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Peoria, Illinois.
In a three-season career, Whiteman posted a .271 batting average with one home run and 31 runs batted in in 85 games played.
A 35-year-old minor league journeyman, Whiteman filled in outfield for the Boston Red Sox whenever Babe Ruth was pitching. Prior to the 1918 season, he had played in only 15 major league games since 1907 before becoming the surprise hero of the World Champion Boston team. Although Ruth and Carl Mays won two games apiece in the World Series, Whiteman batted just .250 (5-for-20) against the Chicago Cubs but delivered some key hits and made several run-saving catches in the outfield, specially in the eighth inning of the final game won by the Red Sox, 2–1, at Fenway Park. He never appeared in another major league game after the Series.
Whiteman died in Houston, Texas, at the age of 62.Harry Lunte
Harry August Lunte (September 15, 1892 – July 27, 1965) was a Major League Baseball shortstop. Lunte played for the Cleveland Indians in the 1919 and 1920 seasons. In 49 career games, Lunte had 29 hits, nine RBIs, two doubles, and a .196 batting average. Lunte was a member of the 1920 World Series championship team.
Lunte was the pinch runner for shortstop Ray Chapman after Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by New York Yankees pitcher Carl Mays on August 16, 1920. Chapman died the next day, becoming Major League Baseball's second fatality.
He was born and died in St. Louis, Missouri.Ray Chapman
Raymond Johnson Chapman (January 15, 1891 – August 17, 1920) was an American baseball player, spending his entire career as a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians.
Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch thrown by Yankees pitcher Carl Mays, and died 12 hours later. He remains the only Major League Baseball player to have died from an injury received during an MLB game. His death led to Major League Baseball establishing a rule requiring umpires to replace the ball whenever it became dirty, and it was partially the reason—along with sanitary concerns—that the spitball was banned after the 1920 season. Chapman's death was also one of the examples used to emphasize the need for wearing batting helmets (although the rule requiring their use was not adopted until over 30 years later).River View Cemetery (Portland, Oregon)
River View Cemetery, located in the southwest section of Portland, Oregon in the United States, is a non-profit cemetery founded in 1882. It is the final resting place of many prominent and notable citizens of Oregon, including many governors and U.S. Senators. Other notable burials include Henry Weinhard's family, Lyle Alzado, a football player as well as an actor, and Carl Mays a baseball player, remembered for killing an opposing player with a pitch in a Major League game, and famous western lawman Virgil Earp.Submarine (baseball)
In baseball, a submarine pitch is one in which the ball is released often just above the ground, but not underhanded, with the torso bent at a right angle and shoulders tilted so severely that they rotate around a nearly horizontal axis. This is in stark contrast to an underhand pitch in softball in which the torso remains upright, the shoulders are level, and the hips do not rotate.
The "upside down" release of the submariner causes balls to move differently from pitches generated by other arm slots. Gravity plays a significant role, for the submariner's ball must be thrown considerably above the strike zone, after which it drops rapidly back through. The sinking motion of the submariner's fastball is enhanced by forward rotation, in contradistinction to the overhand pitcher's hopping backspin.
Submarine pitches are often the toughest for same-side batters to hit (i.e., a right-handed submarine pitcher is the more difficult for a right-handed batter to hit, and likewise for left-handed pitchers and batters). This is because the submariner's spin is not perfectly level; the ball rotates forward and toward the pitching arm side, jamming same-sided hitters at the last moment, even as the ball drops rapidly through the zone.The rarity of submarine pitchers is almost certainly attributable to its unusual technique. It is not typically a natural style of throwing—it is often a learned style—and because the vast majority of pitchers use an overarm motion, most young pitchers are encouraged to throw overhand.
Though the bending motion required to pitch effectively as a submariner means that submariners may be more at risk of developing back problems, it is commonly thought that the submarine motion is less injurious to the elbow and shoulder. Kent Tekulve and Gene Garber are among the most durable pitchers in baseball history with 1,944 appearances between the two.
Past major league submariners include Carl Mays (whose unorthodox delivery possibly contributed to the fatal beaning of Ray Chapman), Ted Abernathy, Elden Auker, Chad Bradford, Mark Eichhorn, Gene Garber, Kent Tekulve, Todd Frohwirth, and Dan Quisenberry. Steve Olin was also a submarine pitcher.
Shunsuke Watanabe of the Lancaster Barnstormers is known as "Mr. Submarine" in Japan. Watanabe has an even lower release point than the typical submarine pitcher, dropping his pivot knee so low that it scrapes the ground. He now wears a pad under his uniform to avoid injuring his knee. His release is so low that his knuckles often become raw from their periodic drag on the ground.The Pitch That Killed
The Pitch That Killed: Carl Mays, Ray Chapman and the Pennant Race of 1920 is a non-fiction baseball book written by Mike Sowell and published in 1989. The book concentrates on the 1920 major league season, especially the events surrounding Ray Chapman's death from a pitch thrown by Carl Mays.
It won the CASEY Award for best baseball book of 1989 and was selected as a New York Times "Notable Book of the Year."
Mike Sowell's book has been optioned by Come Aboard Productions. The production company is in development on a feature film based on the story from The Pitch That Killed.Vancouver Beavers
The Vancouver Beavers were a Class-B minor league baseball team based in Vancouver, British Columbia that played on and off from 1908 to 1922. The team played in the Northwestern League, Pacific Coast International League, Northwest International League and Western International League. From 1913 on, they played their home games at Athletic Park.In 1910, Bob Brown bought a sixty percent share of the team for $500. moving to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada to take on the role of the team's playing manager. While Brown owned the Beavers, manager Kitty Brashier guided the team to Northwestern League championships in 1911; the Beavers were also champions in 1913 and 1914, while the team was second in the league in 1912.Later Chicago Cubs pitcher Walter "Dutch" Ruether pitched for the Beavers in 1914-15. Carl Mays, famous for throwing at batters, also played several seasons with the Beavers. Other members of the club included Chief Meyers, Dave Bancroft, Wimpy Quinn, Mose Solomon, and Bill Sayles. Hall of Fame baseball pitcher Joe McGinnity played for the team in 1918.