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This photograph of Ray Chapman was taken by photographer Paul Thompson. On the back, Thompson wrote in pencil: "Indians Shortstop Ray Chapman hit by pitch. He may die." When Chapman died a few hours later, Thompson crossed out "may" and added a "d" to "die." It's a chilling document that shows how quickly the unfortunate incident happened.
 

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Promise Unfulfilled -- Ray Chapman
(1891-1920)

Ray Chapman was a popular shortstop for the Cleveland Indians from 1912 to 1920. On August 16, 1920, he was hit in the head by one of Carl Mays' pitches and died a few hours later from his injury. He is the only Major League player to be killed on a big league field.

The Cleveland players were so angry at Mays for throwing the pitch that killed their beloved “Chappie,” that they sent this petition to American League President Ban Johnson.

The text on the petition reads as follows:
"We, the undersigned, members of the Cleveland Base Ball Club, have resolved to take no part in any ball game in which Mr. Carl Mays shall take part. We will also back any similar action taken by the members of any other American League Club. A copy of this action is being sent to the players of every club, also a copy to Mr. B.B. Johnson."

Despite the tragedy, the Indians went on to win the World Series that year.


Related links:

See one of the two known remaining Ray Chapman game used bats.