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Old 03-30-2007, 06:55 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: Dave Hornish

Saw this on the ESPN web site but I'm sure it's everywhere now:

CLEVELAND -- Tucked away and forgotten for years, a plaque commemorating one of baseball's darkest moments has been brought back to life.

A 175-pound bronzed memorial for Ray Chapman, the Cleveland Indians shortstop killed when he was hit in the head with a pitch in a 1920 game, was recently rediscovered after decades in storage.

Now refurbished, it will be displayed as one of the signature pieces in the new Heritage Park, a walkthrough exhibit beyond the center-field wall at Jacobs Field honoring Cleveland's Hall of Famers and the Indians' history.

"It's absolutely beautiful," said Jim Folk, Indians vice president of operations, admiring the once-hidden treasure. "This was a lucky accident."

Chapman was one of the Indians' most popular players. "Chappie," as he was known to everyone, was struck in the temple by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees at the Polo Grounds on Aug. 16, 1920. Chapman passed away from his injury the next morning.

The beaning came before the advent of batting helmets, and the 29-year-old Chapman was hit so hard that Mays, a renowned submariner and spitballer, thought the ball had come off Chapman's bat. He fielded the ball and threw to first.

"Chapman didn't react at all," said Rod Nelson of the Society of American Baseball Research, who has culled through dozens of newspaper articles on Chapman's death. "It was at twilight and it froze him."

Not long after Chapman died, the plaque was dedicated and hung at League Park and later at Cleveland Municipal Stadium before being taken down for unknown reasons.

"It was in a store room under an escalator in a little nook and cranny," Folk said. "We didn't know what we were going to do with it, but there was no way it was just going to stay there when we moved to Jacobs Field. We had it crated up and put on a moving truck and it came over along with our file cabinets and all the other stuff that came out of the stadium."

The Indians considered hanging it in the Jake, but unable to come up with the perfect spot, the plague was misplaced. Time passed and Chapman's plaque became a lost piece of history.

"It just kind of got forgotten about, to be honest," Folk said.

Six weeks ago, while workers cleaned out a storage room, it was found -- in horrible condition. The neglected plague was covered by years of dust and dirt, making its text illegible.

"You couldn't read anything on it," said Bob Knazek of Engineered Products Inc., the company in charge of overseeing the Heritage Park memorial. "It was oxidized, dark brown."

The plaque was cleaned, restoring Chapman and his sad story for another generation of fans.

"We're really pleased with it," Knazek said. "It just turned out to be a piece of artwork. It's a great focal point for the ballpark."

In elegant detail, Raymond Johnson Chapman's bust is framed by a baseball diamond and flanked by two bats, one of them cradling a fielder's mitt. At the bottom of the tablet is the inscription, "He Lives In The Hearts Of All Who Knew Him."

After cutting the ceremonial ribbon at Heritage Park, Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller was one of many who paused to remember Chapman, the only major leaguer to die from an injury sustained in a game.

"It wasn't the first time he threw at somebody," the 88-year-old Feller said of Mays. "Whether he threw at Chapman, I have no idea. But I told my grandson, who is a 15-year-old pitcher, 'Don't ever throw at a hitter, no matter how upset you are or what happened in the game, don't ever do it.' That's the No. 1 rule of being a pitcher, besides throwing strikes."

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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Old 03-30-2007, 07:22 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: Todd Schultz

sounds like a cool memorial. I may be rusty about that event, but I thought Mays was not out to hit Chapman when it happened. If so, and to some extent anyway, what a stupid thing for Feller to say at the end--leave it to him to toot his own horn and at least implicitly disparage a man long since dead.

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Old 03-30-2007, 07:31 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: Max Weder

For those who haven't read it, The Pitch That Killed is an excellent book on the subject





Max

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Old 03-30-2007, 08:32 PM
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Posted By: Frank Evanov

Agree, a great book.



Frank

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Old 03-30-2007, 08:36 PM
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Posted By: Frank Wakefield

Max is right. An excellent book. As is the author's other book about Ed Delahanty. Both books do a great job of explaining the nature of the game at the time. The Chapman book looks at the pennant races underway, the Delahanty book explains the 2 competing leagues, players jumping contracts, and the origins of the reserve clause. Great books. Great author.

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Old 03-30-2007, 08:52 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: BOB



My favorite Ray Chapman item!!!

What a tragic event, and with the compelling three way pennant race between the Indians, White Sox and Yankees reading "The Pitch That Killed" is one of my favorite baseball books.

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Old 04-12-2007, 09:28 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: sean

Just read the book and it is AWESOME. Whats great about it is he goes into a backstory about every significant person in it. I love the letter that Cobb wrote to Mays just before they met on field for the first time after the beaning.

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Old 04-12-2007, 09:39 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: Rob L

Here is Bob Feller and the plaque:



Rob L

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Old 04-12-2007, 09:45 PM
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Posted By: Fred Y

I wonder where he signed it???

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Old 04-12-2007, 09:59 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: George Dreher

On the gold part, with a hammer and chisel.

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Old 04-12-2007, 10:04 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: Frank Wakefield

Love it, Fred!!!!


What I heard was that Bob would show up at the conventions in the 70s and sign all of his stuff. It got to the point where his cards were worth more unsigned, 'cause there were fewer of them.

He may well have signed the guys who installed it!

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Old 04-12-2007, 10:22 PM
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Default Ray Chapman Memorial Found, Refurbished, Displayed

Posted By: Rob L

Look at the shadow of his hand. I think he is holding a Sharpie

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Old 04-12-2007, 10:30 PM
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Posted By: Rob Dewolf

Frank,

You're being generous with the word conventions.

Growing up in Canton, Ohio, I started setting up at a small, monthly card show at the Nazir Grotto hall in the early '80s when I was in high school. Every month or so Rapid Robert would walk in with a briefcase, pay the $10 for a table, sit down and take out a stack of 8 x 10s and a sign that read:

Bob Feller
Hall of Famer
Autographs $5
(Photos $2)

He'd sit there for the entire three hours or so. Not much small talk (which was his right, of course) and even less good cheer.

Welcome to the big leagues, Mr. Hobbs.

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Old 04-13-2007, 08:16 AM
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Posted By: T E

Although Black Sox scandal is often thought to be reason ML baseball appointed a commissioner with czar-like powers, it was in fact Mays who started the ball rolling when he walked off the Bosox team in 1919 and vowed never to play for them again. Frazee, owner of Bosox then did what he liked doing best, auctioning off Mays to the highest bidder, that being, who else, the NY Jankees.

Ban Johnson tried to reverse the deal, only to have NY go to court to obtain an injunction against Johnson. The Bosox, Jankees and, interestingly enough, the Chi Sox, owned by you know who, formed an alliance against Johnson, with the other five AL teams backing him. The three even threatened to jump to the National League.

The real threat, of course, was to the reserve clause- If Mays could dictate where he played, who would be next?

The penurious Charles Comiskey had an answer for that problem. When Dickie Kerr won 53 games over 1919-1921, Comiskey refused Kerr a $500 raise. Kerr sat out the entire 1922, and Comiskey in turn suspended Kerr for the next two seasons, effectively ending his career.

After the Mays fiasco in 1919, it was clear that an overall commissioner was needed with power over both leagues. The Black Sox scandal made that need, of course, even clearer.

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