Batter sustains fatal injury at plate

Batter sustains fatal injury at plate

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On August 16, 1920, Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman is struck in the temple by a ball pitched by Carl Mays of the New York Yankees. He died 12 hours later. This was the first and only death to occur as the result of a pitched ball in major league history.

Ray Chapman was one of the young and impressive Cleveland team’s major stars and their best infielder. On the afternoon of August 16, he led off the fifth inning against Carl Mays, a fastball pitcher whose underhand style made the ball difficult for batters to see. Chapman made a habit of being hit by balls, and Mays had a longstanding reputation as a “bean ball” pitcher. With a hunched-over stance, Chapman appeared to be looking for a curveball, and when Mays instead threw a fastball, Chapman made no movement to get out of the way. The ball hit Chapman in the left temple and made a sound so loud that many in the crowd and on the field believed he had hit the ball. The crowd of 20,000 at New York’s Polo Grounds gasped as Chapman collapsed to the ground. Indians players rushed to Chapman’s side, and helped him to his feet so that he could walk back to the dugout. However, he then lost consciousness and was rushed to St. Lawrence Hospital. Despite a late-night operation to relieve the pressure on his brain, Chapman was pronounced dead at 12:30 a.m. the next day.

Chapman’s death prompted a number of important changes to the way baseball was played. Prior to the incident, it was common for just a handful of baseballs to be used for an entire game. The balls became discolored from dirt and tobacco juice rubbed in by the pitcher, as well as scuffed and misshapen, making them difficult for batters to see. After Chapman’s injury, it was mandated that scuffed or discolored balls be replaced with new white ones. In addition to being easier to see, the white balls are more tightly wound and carry farther, making it possible for hitters to send them much greater distances. As a result, home runs became much more common, and the sport’s first generation of great sluggers–including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Hack Wilson and other future Hall of Famers–put fans in the seats and powered one of the greatest eras in baseball history.

With the influx of power hitting, pitching changed. Pitchers could no longer pace themselves and attack only the best hitters. The threat of the home run led pitchers to work harder throughout the game; they then tired more easily and had to be replaced more frequently. Baseball franchises have continued to place an ever greater premium on power hitting, and, as a result, depth of pitching.

Batting helmet

A batting helmet is worn by batters in the game of baseball or softball. It is meant to protect the batter's head from errant pitches thrown by the pitcher. A batter who is "hit by pitch," due to an inadvertent wild pitch or a pitcher's purposeful attempt to hit him or her, may be seriously, even fatally, injured.

In the wake of the Dodgers-Padres fight on Thursday night that left Los Angeles pitcher Zack Greinke with a broken collarbone, a look at some of the notable injuries that occurred during baseball brawls throughout the game's history.

July 4, 1932 -- New York Yankees catcher Bill Dickey punches Washington's Carl Reynolds, breaking his jaw, after Reynolds bowls him over at home plate. AL President William Harridge suspends Dickey for 30 days and fines him $1,000. Reynolds doesn't play again until Aug. 13.

May 22, 1946 -- Len Merullo of the Chicago Cubs and Dixie Walker of the Brooklyn Dodgers fight during batting practice at Ebbets Field after Merullo and Brooklyn's Pee Wee Reese start arguing. Police separate the players. Walker loses one tooth and breaks another. NL President Ford Frick suspends Merullo for 10 days and Walker for five, and fines each $150.

Sept. 6, 1953 -- New York Giants pitcher Ruben Gomez hits Brooklyn's Carl Furillo on the wrist with a pitch, and Furillo charges the mound. After going to first base, Furillo charges the New York dugout, fights with Giants manager Leo Durocher and breaks a bone in his left hand. Furillo wins the NL batting title with a .344 average and returns Sept. 30 for the World Series opener.

Aug. 4, 1960 -- Chicago Cubs pitcher Jim Brewer brushes back Cincinnati's Billy Martin, who throws his bat at the pitcher. Brewer picks up the bat and attempts to hand it to Martin, who punches Brewer and breaks an orbital bone near the pitcher's right eye. Brewer needs two operations and does not pitch again until the following season. Martin is suspended for five days and fined $500 by NL President Warren Giles. On Jan. 28, 1969, a circuit court jury in Illinois orders Martin to pay Brewer $10,000 in damages for medical expenses. Martin goes on to be a manager known to brawl with players.

Aug. 22, 1965 -- Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax throws an inside pitch to San Francisco's Juan Marichal, and catcher Johnny Roseboro's return throw to the mound grazes Marichal's ear. Marichal says something to the catcher, Roseboro takes a step toward the batter and Marichal hits Roseboro with his bat. Roseboro returns Aug. 25. Marichal is suspended for eight playing dates and fined $1,750 by Giles.

Aug. 22, 1968 -- Chicago White Sox pitcher Tommy John throws a pitch over the head of Detroit's Dick McAuliffe, who charges the mound. AL President Joe Cronin suspends McAuliffe for five days and fines him $250. John sustains torn ligaments in his left shoulder during the fight and doesn't pitch again that season.

June 18, 1971 -- Cleveland's Ray Fosse gets kicked in the hand and needs five stitches after charging the mound when hit by a pitch from Detroit's Bill Denehy. Fosse returns to the starting lineup on June 24. Indians pitcher Ray Lamb sprains his right index finger and doesn't play again until June 28.

May 29, 1974 -- Bobby Valentine of the California Angels takes three steps toward the mound after Milwaukee's Clyde Wright throws a pitch over his head. Wright comes off the mound to meet him and during the fight Valentine dislocates his left shoulder. He doesn't play again until June 14.

July 1, 1975 -- San Diego pitcher Bill Greif throws an inside pitch to Willie Crawford of the Dodgers in the bottom of the eighth, after Charlie Hough hits Dave Winfield with a pitch in the top half of the inning. Crawford charges the mound. Joe Ferguson of the Dodgers comes onto the field and breaks his right wrist punching Greif. Ferguson has surgery and misses the rest of the season.

April 25, 1976 -- Oakland shortstop Bert Campaneris hits Cleveland's Buddy Bell in the face with a throw after forcing Bell at second base, touching off a brawl. The Indians' Boog Powell sprains an ankle when stepped on during the fight and doesn't play again until May 21.

May 20, 1976 -- Boston pitcher Bill Lee separates his shoulder during a brawl with the Yankees that begins when New York's Lou Piniella crashes into Red Sox catcher Carlton Fisk at home plate. Lee did not pitch again until July 15.

July 8, 1977 -- Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt charges the mound and throws punches after he was hit in the back by a pitch from Pittsburgh's Bruce Kison. During the fight, Schmidt fractures the ring finger of his right hand. He is ejected and does not bat again until July 12.

Aug. 12, 1977 -- Pittsburgh's Ed Ott goes in hard to New York Mets second baseman Felix Millan in a forceout at second base. Millan, with the ball in his hand, punches Ott, who picks up Millan and slams him to the ground. Millan breaks his collarbone and dislocates his shoulder, and never plays in the major leagues again. NL President Chub Feeney fines Ott $250.

May 4, 1995 -- California pitcher Shawn Boskie strains his back during a brawl against the Oakland Athletics that begins when Athletics pitcher Jim Corsi hit the Angels' Tim Salmon with a pitch, one at-bat after Salmon homered. Oakland's Mark McGwire was hit by pitches twice earlier in the game. Boskie starts against Seattle two nights later.

Aug. 10, 2010 -- Following a confrontation at home plate that begins when Cincinnati's Brandon Phillips taps St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina's shin guard with his bat, Cardinals catcher Jason LaRue sustains a concussion when kicked by Reds pitcher Johnny Cueto. LaRue, who had not played since Aug. 3, never appears in another major league game. MLB Vice President Bob Watson suspends Cueto for seven games and fines him.

Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press

This story is from's automated news wire. Wire index


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A Boat Repairman Dies From Burns Received From a Fire Caused by an Exploding Battery.

A 68-year-old boat repairman died from burns he received from a fire caused by an exploding battery. The victim was connecting a battery charger to a battery when the battery exploded. The explosion started a fire that engulfed a boat and the victim. The victim was not wearing clothing or safety apparel appropriate for the work being done. The victim was alone in the shop at the time of the incident. The company had no documented safety or training programs available for the employees to follow. The CA/FACE investigator determined that, in order to prevent future occurrences, employers should:

  • Ensure employees follow documented battery charging guidelines.
  • Ensure employee clothing and safety apparel is appropriate for the work being done.
  • Establish and maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).
  • Establish and maintain training and testing programs that verify and document an employee&rsquos achievement of skills.


On May 25, 2007, at approximately 7:00 a.m., a 68-year-old boat repairman died from burn injuries he received from a battery explosion and fire. The CA/FACE investigator learned of this incident on May 29, 2007, through a facsimile from the Santa Ana District Office of the Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA). Contact with the victim&rsquos employer was made on June 4, 2007. On June 7, 2007, the CA/FACE investigator traveled to the company that employed the victim and interviewed the company&rsquos owner and other employees in the shop. Photographs of the incident scene were taken.

The employer of the victim was a small service, maintenance, and sales shop of trailed boats. The company had been in business for over 20 years and had two employees.

The victim had worked for the company for about two and one half years as a private contractor. He only worked when needed. The victim had a key to the shop and came and went as he desired.

The company did not have a safety program or an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP). The company did not have a training program that provided safety training to employees. The victim was experienced in boat maintenance and repair. According to the company owner, the victim had been a technical representative for a major outboard motor manufacturer in Florida for many years and taught boating safety classes.


The site of the incident was a maintenance and service shop for trailed boats. On the day of the incident the victim went to the shop and let himself in with his own key. The victim placed a marine battery on the floor of the shop near a battery charger and a customer&rsquos boat. The victim was attempting to attach a battery charger to a marine battery when the battery exploded. The explosion caught the customer&rsquos boat and the victim on fire. The victim attempted to put the fire out on the boat even though he was on fire himself. Passersby saw the fire and called 911. The paramedics and fire department arrived and treated the victim, then transported him to a local hospital where he died from his injuries.

Cause of Death

The cause of death according to the death certificate was thermal burns.


Recommendation #1: Ensure employees follow documented battery charging guidelines.

Discussion: The charging of lead-acid batteries can be hazardous. However, many workers may not see it as hazardous since it is such a common activity in many workplaces. The two primary potential hazards are from hydrogen gas formed when the battery is being charged and the sulfuric acid in the battery fluid. Batteries contain sulfuric acid, which is poisonous, corrosive, and causes burns/irritation on contact with the skin or eyes. Short circuits can cause extensive arcing, burning and melting of metal objects, and explosion of any charging gases. Electric shocks can also be received both from the batteries and from the charging equipment. There is a risk of fire and/or explosion if flammable mixtures of hydrogen with air accumulate. The following safe working practices for charging batteries are designed to prevent similar incidents form occurring:

  • Always switch off the battery charger before connecting or disconnecting any battery.
  • Always use insulated tools.
  • Never place tools or other conductive objects on top of the battery when it is being charged.
  • Remove any metallic items from hands, wrists, neck (e.g., rings, chains), which may cause accidental short circuits.
  • Always disconnect the negative terminal first and the positive terminal last.
  • When charging lead acid batteries, always ensure there is adequate ventilation to dissipate hazardous gasses that vent from the battery when charging.
  • Designate the charging area &lsquoNo Smoking.&rdquo
  • Before connecting charger, always add water to each cell until battery acid covers plates to help purge extra gas from cells. Do not overfill.
  • After charging, fill the battery to level specified by battery manufacturer. For a battery without removable caps (maintenance free battery), carefully follow manufacturer&rsquos instructions on charging. (Some sealed maintenance free batteries have a battery condition indicator. A light or bright colored dot indicates low water. Such a battery needs to be replaced, not charged or jump started).
  • Charge battery with caps in place. Most U.S. batteries are made with flame arresting caps. Do not pry caps off sealed batteries.

Employers can enhance worker compliance with safe work practices through programs of task specific training, supervision, recognition, and progressive disciplinary measures.

Recommendation #2: Ensure employees clothing and safety apparel is appropriate for the work being done.

Discussion: Most man-made fabrics, such as nylon, acrylic, or polyester, will melt when ignited and produce a hot, sticky, melted substance causing extremely severe burns. When exposed to extreme heat and flames, clothing containing some synthetic materials like polyester will melt and can fuse to the skin. This essentially creates a second skin and can lead to horrific, disfiguring burns. The clothing worn by the victim was made of a polyester material and therefore was inappropriate for the work being performed. Clothing should be of such design, fit, and durability as to provide adequate protection against the hazards for which they are designed. They should be reasonably comfortable and not unduly encumber the employee&rsquos movements. The protection worn by employees when handling or charging batteries should also include safety apparel, such as a face mask, goggles, apron, and gloves. Had the victim been wearing proper clothing and safety apparel for the work being performed, the incident might not have been prevented, but his injuries may not have been fatal.

Recommendation #3: Establish and maintain an Injury and Illness Prevention Program (IIPP).

Discussion: In this particular case, the employer had no safety program in place for the employees to follow. Having a documented safety program and an IIPP has proven to be an effective method of ensuring all employees receive the necessary safety information needed to do their jobs. An effective IIPP should contain the following:

  • The name of a person or persons with authority and responsibility for implementing the IIPP.
  • A system for ensuring that employees comply with safe and health work practices.
  • A system for communicating with employees in a form readily understandable by all affected employees on matters relating to occupational safety and health, including provisions designed to encourage employees to inform the employer of hazards at the worksite without fear of reprisal.
  • Procedures for identifying and evaluating workplace hazards, including scheduled periodic inspections to identify unsafe conditions and work practices.
  • Procedures to investigate occupational injury or occupational illness.
  • Methods and/or procedures for correcting unsafe or unhealthy conditions, work practices, and work procedures in a timely manner based on the severity of the hazard.
  • Training and instruction.

Employers having fewer than ten employees are permitted to communicate to and instruct employees orally in general safe work practices, with specific instructions with respect to hazards unique to the employees&rsquo job assignments. Had the employer had a safety program in place, the hazard might have been identified and eliminated before this incident occurred.

Recommendation #4: Establish and maintain training and testing programs that verify and document an employee&rsquos achievement of skills.

Discussion: In this particular case, the employer had no training program in place for the employees to follow. The purpose behind a documented training and testing program is to ensure all employees receive the same safety information and that their achievement of skills is verified before proceeding with any given task. A training and testing program should be given:

Editor's Picks

On the night of Aug. 28, Goldbloom's whole family and a rabbi gathered around her to share memories and say goodbye before abiding by her wish that she not be kept alive by machines if doctors deemed it impossible to restore her quality of life.

After Goldbloom died the next morning, the Dodgers made no public comments about her death or what caused it. When OTL contacted the team Monday, more than five months later, a spokesman provided this statement:

"Mr. and Mrs. Goldbloom were great Dodgers fans who regularly attended games. We were deeply saddened by this tragic accident and the passing of Mrs. Goldbloom. The matter has been resolved between the Dodgers and the Goldbloom family. We cannot comment further on this matter."

Brody told OTL on Monday that she and her family would not comment on any agreement with the Dodgers or possible legal action, but she said she hopes to have a fund established in her mother's memory to assist victims of such accidents and their families.

In Major League Baseball's 150-year history, there were two previous reported instances of fans dying after being struck in the stands by balls that left the field of play, including one nearly half a century ago on a foul at Dodger Stadium:

The fatal injury to Goldbloom came during the first season in which all 30 major league teams had protective netting extending from behind home plate to at least the far ends of both dugouts to safeguard especially vulnerable sections of stadiums' lower bowls. MLB didn't mandate such extensions but had issued recommendations.

Several teams that hadn't already announced plans for increased netting in 2018, including the Dodgers, did so after a young girl, seated on her grandfather's lap behind the third-base dugout, suffered life-threatening injuries from a foul line drive that left the bat at 105 mph and hit her in the face on Sept. 20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium.

After the Yankees and other teams installed more extensive netting last season, Geoff Jacobson, the father of the recovering toddler, told ESPN, "Sadly, it often takes great tragedy and suffering to cause change." He said he hoped his daughter would eventually write a college application essay about "how she was the last person to be seriously hurt at a baseball game."

"My heart goes out to the whole family," Jacobson said after OTL told him what happened to Goldbloom. "It's so unnecessary that this had to happen. . It's just tragic that another family is going through this and lost a loved one."

Linda and Erwin Goldbloom standing near their Dodger Stadium seats in a holiday card. Courtesy of the Goldbloom family

MLB has historically relied on the century-old "Baseball Rule" to deter and defend against claims of injuries in the crowd from the impact of baseballs and thrown or broken bats. It says on the back of tickets that fans assume the risks incidental to games when they enter ballparks, and courts of law have generally held that as long as teams provide warnings and install netting in the areas of greatest danger, MLB has lived up to its responsibility.

As MLB teams have put in the netting extensions, some fans who've endured serious injuries in ballpark episodes over the years have said it's not enough and that spring training, minor league and college parks are not keeping pace and are even more dangerous.

Brody said she hopes her mother's death will spark serious consideration of further increases in protection, perhaps using Japan's more extensively netted stadiums as examples, especially in an era of bigger and stronger players, higher velocity and launch-angle projectiles, and more and more distractions for people attending games.

"I just hope MLB takes a serious look in the mirror and continues to evaluate and improve fan safety," Jacobson said. "It was always questionable whether the nets were extended far enough or high enough, and every stadium has different degrees of protections."

He suggested that the nets go all the way to the foul pole, as in Japanese ballparks. "Why did they stop where they stopped?" he said. "It seems arbitrary."

"I'd love to see the netting extended vertically, and we know it doesn't block the view," Brody said. "Raise it a little higher -- what's the hurt in that?"

Unlike some modern fans, whose smartphones can be dangerous diversions when the ball is in play, Goldbloom had only a flip phone that she wasn't using then and hardly ever took out, Brody said. The ball ricocheted off her mother's head and struck her uncle in the stomach, but he wasn't injured.

Her parents, Brody said, had the same seats for about 10 games each of the past 10 years under partial season-ticket plans, and in the preceding decade, they attended about the same number of games in a different set of seats.

Erwin Goldbloom turned down his chance at Dodgers postseason tickets and didn't renew for 2019 but will consider attending single games in seating that is "somewhere safe" -- meaning where there's netting -- Brody said.

Linda Goldbloom, described by Brody as a "true fan," was buried about 10 miles from Dodger Stadium.

"My mom went to the game and never came home," Brody said. "People need to be aware, and we'd really like them to be protected in the future."

Nicole Noren of the ESPN Enterprise Unit contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this story said, based on information from Linda Goldbloom's family, that San Diego's Franmil Reyes hit the foul ball that struck Goldbloom. But new information has raised uncertainty about the identity of the batter.

Assault is any threat or willful attempt to cause serious injury to another person’s body. Assault can actually be committed without making contact with the other person’s body. If the threat is there and is perceived as a serious threat to the safety of the other person’s physical body, then it is considered assault. This could include threatening words and gestures without actually touching the other person. Several different factors can raise the charge from simple assault to aggravated assault.

Aggravated Assault

One factor that can raise the charge from assault to aggravated assault is if a deadly weapon is used. A deadly weapon includes any weapon that can be used to inflict a serious or fatal injury. Guns and knives fall under the category of deadly weapons, but items that are not necessarily weapons can be considered deadly weapons as well. Any instrument being used in a dangerous way with an intention to inflict serious bodily harm or a fatal injury can be considered a deadly weapon at the time. Another way to go from assault to aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury considers the status of the victim.

Many states will prosecute any assault on an on-duty firefighter or police officer as aggravated assault rather than simple assault. It must be clear that the suspect knew the victim’s status to be such. Some states will also prosecute aggravated assault for an assault to a pregnant woman or elderly person. Assaults that take place in the victim’s home may also be considered aggravated assaults. If the assault takes place on a person in a protected minority class, the assault might be considered a hate crime if the suspect was motivated to assault the victim based on gender, race, religion, etc. This could also change the charge from assault to aggravated assault.

Intent also plays a big role in the difference between aggravated assault and simple assault. The suspect’s intent to inflict harm is usually taken into consideration, and more serious charges may be brought if the suspect’s intent was more serious. For example, a suspect who intends to inflict a fatal injury may be charged more seriously than a suspect who was threatening a less serious injury. Assault is the threat and intent to inflict serious harm, while aggravated assault often means the suspect also carried some type of weapon to make good on that threat. This raises the level of assault. One last factor that comes into play in determining whether the assault is aggravated or not is the level of injury the victim sustains.

Assault always involves the threat of serious bodily harm, but varying degrees of charges may be brought based on the severity of the victim’s injuries. If the victim dies, or is disfigured, or sustains an injury requiring substantial medical care, then the charge will be classified as aggravated assault. In every single state, if a deadly weapon is used in the assault, then it is automatically classified as an aggravated assault.

MLB HOFer Ty Cobb On Why Joe Jackson Was a Better Hitter

In baseball there are few things as entertaining as the best hitters discussing the intricacies of their craft. That is, unless they also decide to dish on other great hitters and what made them so effective at the plate. One of the greatest examples of this was when Ty Cobb, years after he last played, speaking about why he believed Shoeless Joe Jackson was the greatest hitter of all time.

Cobb, the left-handed hitting outfielder, knew a thing or two about hitting. Nearly a century after he retired, his .366 batting average still ranks as the best mark in baseball history. During his 24-year career (1905–1928), he also recorded 4,189 hits, 724 doubles, 295 triples, 2,245 runs, 117 home runs, 1,944 RBIs and 897 stolen bases. Naturally, he was part of the first ever class of inductees in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936.

Jackson was also a left-handed hitting outfielder. Like Cobb, he was from the South, but was largely illiterate and devoid of some of the social graces his educated, more privileged rival possessed.

While Cobb was about relentless ferocity and speed, Jackson simply raked. In his 13 big-league seasons (1908–1920), he batted a combined .356 with 307 doubles, 158 triples, 54 home runs and 792 RBIs.

Unbelievably, Jackson never won a batting title, which can be mostly attributed to the fact that Cobb took home the crown an incredible 12 times between 1907 and 1919. Even in 1911, when Jackson hit an amazing.408, Cobb bested him at .419. His career came to an abrupt end following the 1920 season after he was banned from baseball for life for his role in the plot eight members of the 1919 Chicago White Sox took to throw that year’s World Series to the Cincinnati Reds for the benefit of gamblers.

Although the pure batting average numbers show Cobb to be the more successful hitter, he believed that Jackson was actually his superior at the plate. In an article that appeared in the June 5, 1942 issue of the Record Journal (Meriden, CT), he spoke at length about why Jackson was the ultimate hitter:

“I don’t care how we feel or what some folks may say about some of the tragic incidents in that man’s baseball life. You can’t take away from him the fact he was the greatest hitter the game has ever known.

“He was greater than I, although I managed to top him in the records each year we fought it out for the batting titles. Jackson could hit any kind of pitch, from his shoe tops to his head. There may have been some things I could do better, such as drag bunts, and they say I had a faster getaway from the plate on the swing. But Jackson never was fooled up there, and I think he had the best eyes, and the keenest reflexes of any hitter I ever saw.”

Jackson was what some might call a country hitter. There was no science to it other than going to the plate, looking for his pitches and then trying to wallop the hell out of them. Swinging a large heavy bat he dubbed “Black Betsy,” he was known for his sharp eye sight, which no doubt helped him pick out the pitches he wanted to destroy. Clearly, his methods produced results.

Cobb knew that some might argue Jackson playing his career during the Dead Ball era might lead to some detractors pointing out Babe Ruth was a better all-around hitter. However, he was having none of that argument:

“In his time, Jackson was hitting against what I’m sure was the greatest pitching the game has known. The pitchers were allowed to do almost anything with the ball — discolor it, scratch it, use slippery elm, emery dust and whatnot. Besides, they were throwing up a ball about as lively as a squash compared with the resiliency of the ball Ruth had to hit against.”

Cobb was also complimentary of the pitching during their time, especially Walter Johnson. No matter how great Cobb and Jackson were as hitters, they had their hands full when it came to the speedy Hall-of-Fame right-hander. Cobb developed a strategy, albeit a wing and a prayer type of plan, when facing Johnson:

“Walter never threw at a batter, or even close to one, if he could help it, because he realized his speed might be fatal to somebody. So, I decided to crowd the plate, bend my knees over it, to give just a small part of the dish to work on. I knew he would try to keep the ball away from me on the outside corner.

“When he missed the plate by an inch or more for two balls, I would step back a fraction, in my normal stance, expecting him to come down the middle with his fast one. That way I managed to hit Walter Johnson, the greatest pitcher and one of the grandest fellows that ever lived. I hit his cripples.”

Cobb was so skilled as a hitter that any baseball fan could likely sit in rapt silence and listen to him talk about his craft for hours. Therefore, his opinion on who the greatest batter was he ever saw bears significant weight. His selection of Jackson and subsequent explanation as to the validity of his choice is as strong evidence as Shoeless Joe could ever have on his resume.

Carl Mays Discusses the Pitch that Killed Ray Chapman

One of the most tragic events to ever take place on a baseball diamond was the 1920 death of Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman, who was hit in the head by a Carl Mays pitch in a game against the New York Yankees. Some thought the right-hander never showed the kind of remorse or visceral reaction he should have in light of the circumstances, which helped create a reputation that follows him to this day (nearly 50 years after his death). However, he did go public shortly after fateful pitch to talk about what had happened and the aftermath that ensued.

Mays did not speak about the Chapman incident often but there is a written record of his thoughts about his role and the ensuing reaction. Below, excerpts are in italics along with my reactions. These quotes come from an interview he did in the November, 1920 issue of Baseball Magazine (which was reproduced by

Although Chapman’s death was an accident, Mays became a scapegoat as a bad guy in the aftermath: “A ball player is not often called upon to discuss his own faults. Usually those failings are played up behind his back, a certain courtesy forbidding their mention to his face. It would be foolish, however, for me to ignore the widespread criticism of which I have been the unwilling butt. For there have been weeks at a time when I could hardly pick up a newspaper without finding my own name assailed by writers, players or owners indiscriminately.”

With Chapman’s death being a first, it was likely a natural reaction to find someone or something to blame. Mays, who was known to be taciturn and willing to let his fists speak for him, was an easy target. Obviously, he threw the fatal pitch but there has never been anything to suggest an iota of intention behind it and making him shoulder the blame was unfair.

Mays was painfully aware that he was not a popular person:It was long ago made very apparent to me that I was not one of those individuals who were not fated to be popular. It used to bother me some, for I suppose there are none of us who wouldn’t prefer to be well-thought of. But I was naturally independent and if I found that a fellow held aloof from me, I was not likely to run after him. Evidently, I didn’t impress people favorably at first sight. After they knew me better, I was generally able to be on friendly terms with them.

“When I first broke into baseball, I discovered that there seemed to be a feeling against me, even from the players on my own team. When I was with Boise, Idaho, I didn’t have a pal on the Club until the season was half over. Then the fellows seemed to warm up a bit and we were on very good terms for the balance of the season.”

With 207 career major league victories (plus another 75 in the minors) and a 2.92 ERA, Mays had a career that should have put him in the conversation for the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, the six votes he received on the 1958 ballot has been the extent of his support for inclusion.

Mays used perceived slights against him to help fuel his success on the field: “My fellow players on the Providence team didn’t seem to like me and I wondered why. I always have wondered why I have encountered this antipathy from so many people wherever I have been. And I have never been able to explain it even to myself, though I have one or two theories on the subject. I did get genuinely discouraged at Providence and, of course, feeling as I did, was unable to do good work. In fact I lost all interest in my work. I wrote to my Uncle telling him I had about decided to give up baseball. He is no doubt responsible for my being identified with the game at present, for he replied with a mighty stiff letter in which he handled things straight from the shoulder and without gloves. In brief, he told me if I failed to make good, he would consider me a quitter and that is a word I never liked to take from any man. So, I decided to brace up and see what could be done.”

Even Mays’ playing style set him apart from other players. He was renowned for his extreme submarine pitching delivery and thought nothing of standing up for himself when it came to his contract. He was also quick to temper, and was once fined for throwing a ball into the stands and striking a fan in the head during a game.

In an eerie premonition, Mays once joked he would have to get in trouble to get any true recognition in baseball:I remember a conversation I had with my wife about this time in which I told her my baseball career had been singularly free from trouble. I said to her in a joking way that perhaps it would be necessary for me to do something out of the ordinary to get my name in the papers. But I needn’t have been impatient. For could I have looked into the future, I would have seen trouble enough headed in my direction to satisfy the most ambitious trouble seeker who ever lived.”

Mays was right on the money with this. Even though he had a career adjusted ERA+ of 119, which matches Hall of Famers like Warren Spahn and Bob Lemon, his accomplishments as a player are largely forgotten and overshadowed by his role in Chapman’s death.

Just because he didn’t like to discuss it didn’t mean Mays wasn’t sorry about Chapman’s death:The unfortunate death of Ray Chapman is a thing that I do not like to discuss. It is a recollection of the most unpleasant kind which I shall carry with me as long as I live. It is an episode which I shall always regret more than anything that has ever happened to me, and yet I can look into my own conscience and feel absolved from all personal guilt in this affair. The most amazing thing about it was the fact that some people seem to think I did this thing deliberately. If you wish to believe that a man is a premeditated murderer, there is nothing to prevent it. Every man is the master of his own thoughts. I cannot prevent it, however much I may regret it, if people entertain any such idea of me. And yet, I believe that I am entitled to point out some of the many reasons why such a view is illogical.

“I am a pitcher and I know some of the things a pitcher can do as well as some of the things he can’t do. I know that a pitcher can’t stand on the slab sixty feet away from the plate and throw a baseball so as to hit a batter in the head once in a hundred tries. That is, of course, assuming that the pitcher actually wanted to hit the batter in the head, a thing which is absurd on the face of it.”

The bean ball is an unfortunate tradition in baseball, especially during the time of Mays and Chapman. However, there has never been any evidence that the pitch was thrown on purpose. In an age before video and instant replay, people across the country formed their opinion on this event based on past biases and imagination instead of facts.

Even if Mays had been trying to hurt or maim Chapman, such an outcome would have been highly unlikely:But to actually kill a man it is by no means sufficient to hit him on the head. Walter Johnson with all his terrific speed has hit batters on the head and yet they have not died. Fairly often a batter gets hit on the head and seldom is he even seriously injured. There is only one spot on a player’s skull where a pitched baseball would do him serious injury and that is a spot about his temple which is hardly half as big as the palm of my hand. Suppose, to meet some of these malicious slanders that have been directed against me, we assume that a pitcher is enough of a moral monster to deliberately murder a batter at the plate, a batter with whom he can have no particular quarrel and from whose death he could not possibly benefit. What chance would he have of perpetrating such a crime? He would have to hit that batter, and what is more, hit him on a particular part of the skull of very limited area.”

It’s interesting to note that while Mays was subjected to the blame game, Chapman’s death did nothing to change the culture of pitching inside or even hitting batters on purpose. Batting helmets were still decades away, so the fact that such a sobering result came from this one play is indicative that most people likely knew in their heart of hearts that this was an accident.

In the aftermath, Mays didn’t know what to do and took the counsel of others. This probably helped make things worse for him: “Almost everything I have done or haven’t done since that time has been criticized. I have read newspaper comments which blamed me for not going to the Club House to see how seriously Chapman was injured. The fact that I was a pitcher on the mound and had no opportunity to go to the Club House means nothing to these people. When I was finally taken out of the game, Chapman had already been removed in an ambulance and it was then too late for me to see him.

“I did not go to see Mrs. Chapman when she was in town. I could not, under the circumstances, bring myself to undergo this ordeal, though I would have done so if any good would have come of it. I did suggest doing so, moreover, to Colonel Huston, and he advised strongly against it on the grounds that it would be a trying experience for Mrs. Chapman. I was guided by his advice in the matter. I wrote to her, however. I did not go to see Chapman after his death. I knew that the sight of his silent form would haunt me as long as I live, and since no good would be accomplished from my going, I decided not to do so. It is possible I was mistaken in this attitude, but it was certainly through no lack of respect for Chapman or his friends. I have been bitterly criticized for pitching again so soon after this terrible tragedy. I can assure anyone who has made such a criticism that it was no easy task for me to take up my work where I had left off.”

This was pretty clearly a damned if he did, damned if he didn’t situation. That being said, his decision to hold back and not reach out to Chapman or his family only strengthened preconceived notions that he was an uncaring jerk who may have thrown the bean ball on purpose.

A Safer Baseball Helmet

In the early 1950s, the earliest versions of today’s hardened batting helmets began to emerge. Though protection still wasn’t required by the National or American Leagues, several high-profile players including the Yankees Phil Rizzuto and the Cubs Ralph Kiner began using reinforced helmets or protective liners.

As more players and coaches opened up to the benefits of head protection, they also began experimenting with new possibilities. One famous innovator is Branch Rickey, the Pittsburgh Pirates general manager. He designed his own style of reinforced, flocked caps made to mimic regular baseball caps. They were dubbed Ricky-style caps.

In 1956, the first major regulation regarding head protection was enacted. The National League mandated that all batters must wear Ricky-style cap or inserts. The American League followed suit in 1958.

Once players became more comfortable with head protection, batting helmet advancement took off. In the 1960s, the strong molded helmets we see today grew in popularity. Soon, flaps to further protect the face were also introduced.

Finally, in 1971, the MLB made plastic protective helmets mandatory for all players. The only exception were for a few grandfathered in veterans. Then, in 1983, face-protecting flaps also became required for all players.

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In concert with these functional medicine methods, the brain’s ability to change (neuroplasticity) and heal (e.g., new synapses, re-wiring, stem cells) is supported and stimulated with various methods. These include:

  • hyperbaric oxygen
  • time-limited medications (which increase blood flow to damaged brain tissues)
  • neuroprotective strategies (various nutrients and hormones)
  • qEEG guided laser therapy
  • neurofeedback
  • electrical stimulation
  • targeted personalized exercises

How does the brain heal?

The brain heals in four stages.

  1. First, there may be immediate activation of dormant neurons when they are given a supply of energy (laser) and oxygen (HBOT).
  2. Soon (days to weeks) new synapses (dependent on adequate energy, nutrients, hormones, blood supply) begin to form. This is called synaptic neuroplasticity.
  3. Third, as a result of the above, as well as at least one month of consistent brain-challenging exercises, neurofeedback, and stimulation there are changes in the entire neuron itself which has made new proteins, new structures (neuronal neuroplasticity).
  4. Finally, there is systemic neuroplasticity which involves the cementing in of rewired networks, and this occurs over months and years.

How long does treatment last?

In situations where the underlying disease is progressive, some treatments are ongoing, as they are needed to constantly undo the damage being done by the disease process itself. In cases where there is no progressive underlying disease, the treatment is time-limited.

This 30-second video created by the Center for Disease Control shows what happens to the brain.

April 29, 1974: Astros’ win over Cubs marred by Roger Metzger’s near-fatal collision

Baseball players can suffer serious injuries in numerous ways, including getting hit by a pitch, injuring a hand or leg on a slide, and colliding with another player in the field. Normally a collision happens when two players fail to communicate as they both pursue a batted ball. However, on April 29, 1974, Houston Astros shortstop Roger Metzger, who had won a Gold Glove the previous season, had a near-death experience after a collision that occurred during pregame warm-ups. Two hours before the start of the Astros’ game against the Cubs, Metzger was running laps in the outfield when he crashed into pitcher Don Wilson, who was shagging flies and was running in quickly to catch a line drive.

The impact was so severe that Metzger was knocked unconscious and swallowed his tongue. Catcher Johnny Edwards recounted, “[H]e was turning grayish and his eyes had rolled where all you could see was white. He was making loud sounds down in his throat. It really scared you.”1 Third baseman Doug Rader, who was also Metzger’s roommate on the road, began to pound on the sides of Metzger’s jaw in order to force his mouth open. Once Metzger’s jaws were unlocked, Edwards reached in and pulled out his tongue, saying later, “Maybe it was lucky that I’m a catcher and had it happen once to me, so I knew what to do!”2

Metzger later recalled thinking to himself, “I guess this is it. Then I passed out. The next thing I saw was the top of the Dome. It was spinning around. Then I heard John leaning over me, talking. He was really sweating.”3 Both Metzger and Wilson were taken to a hospital. Wilson had some stiffness in his shoulder but was found to have no injury. Metzger suffered no serious repercussions from the event, but he did have a chipped bone at the base of his left thumb that landed him on the 15-day disabled list. After the Astros received the encouraging news about their fallen player, manager Preston Gomez reported, “We said, ‘Let’s win this game for Roger,’ and we went out and had a good night.”4

Gomez’s “good night” was an understatement: The Astros’ 18 runs scored matched the largest single-game output in franchise history, which previously had been accomplished against the San Francisco Giants on July 7, 1971. After Astros lefty Dave Roberts set the Cubs down in order in the first, Houston jumped on the visitors early and often. Larry Milbourne led off with a single and advanced to second as Greg Gross reached first safely on what should have been a fielder’s choice grounder. With Cesar Cedeño at bat, Milbourne advanced to third and then scored — while Gross advanced to second and third — as Cubs starter Bill Bonham unleashed consecutive wild pitches. Cedeño drew a walk and stole his first base of the game, putting him in scoring position. Bob Watson delivered a two-RBI base hit, and Lee May followed with a single of his own. Bonham managed to strike out Milt May but then surrendered a base on balls to Rader to put an Astros runner on every bag.

Cubs manager Whitey Lockman had seen enough of Bonham’s wildness for one day, and he inserted reliever Herb Hutson into the jam. Dave Campbell hit a fielder’s-choice grounder to Cubs shortstop Don Kessinger, who forced Rader out at second, but Watson scored on the play. Roberts came to the plate and aided his mound effort by banging a base hit that drove in May with the fifth Astros run of the inning, after which Milbourne’s grounder to Kessinger put a temporary end to Chicago’s misery.

The Cubs scored one run in the top of the second when Jerry Morales, George Mitterwald, and Vic Harris hit consecutive two-out singles, but Houston recouped that run in the bottom of the frame. The Cubs sent their third pitcher to the hill in the person of rookie Jim Todd, who had joined the team from Triple-A Wichita earlier in day. Cedeño worked his second walk and quickly initiated Todd into the ways of the major leagues. Watson was batting when Cedeño once again attempted a steal of second, and Cubs catcher Mitterwald’s errant throw to the base allowed Cedeño to advance to third. The speedy Astros outfielder was not yet finished giving the young hurler lessons on baserunning as he “faked a break for home and forced the rattled Todd to make [a] balk” that allowed him to score.5 After this inauspicious beginning to his big-league debut, Todd escaped the remainder of the inning by allowing only Lee May’s second single of the game.

Neither Roberts nor Todd allowed a run in the third, but the scoring resumed in the following frame. Jose Cardenal led off the top of the fourth with a double to center field, and Mitterwald lashed a one-out double into left that drove him in with the Cubs’ second and, as it turned out, final run. Once more, the Astros set about adding the lost run back to their lead, and Cedeño had the opportunity to torment yet another Cubs pitcher, Ray Burris. This time Cedeño reached first on a hit, rather than a walk, before he stole second base once more. Cedeño’s third steal of the game tied an Astros record he already shared with Jimmy Wynn, though he became the first Astro to accomplish the feat twice. Burris now unleashed the Cubs staff’s third wild pitch of the game, allowing Cedeño to advance to third Watson then drove him in with a sacrifice fly. Lee May remained hot at the plate, smacking his third base hit of the game, though he ended up stranded at first base again. He soon took matters into his own hands to ensure that he contributed more than his fair share of runs to the Astros’ barrage against the Cubs.

Watson led off the bottom of the sixth with a single against Burt Hooton, the fifth Cubs pitcher, and was replaced by pinch-runner Bob Gallagher. Lee May then stepped to the plate and hit a rainbow shot over the left-field wall. Hooton fared even worse than Bonham as he failed to retire a single batter he faced: Milt May and Rader both singled, and Campbell doubled to put the Astros in double digits as May scored their 10th run. The Cubs now sent Jim Kremmel to the mound to squelch the Astros’ rally, but he merely followed in the footsteps of his predecessors.

First, Roberts drove in his second run with a sacrifice fly that plated Rader. Milbourne walked, Gross singled, and then Kremmel showed what he had gleaned from watching the Cubs’ previous pitchers. Following Bonham’s first-inning lead, he threw consecutive wild pitches that allowed Milbourne and Gross to cross home plate. Cedeño made his first out of the game, but Gallagher singled to bring up Lee May once more. May clouted his second homer of the inning, this time to center field, to tie a major-league record the feat had been accomplished 14 times previously in the modern era, including 10 times in the National League. When asked about his hot, homer-bashing bat, May responded, “I don’t theorize about it. I just swing. You can do too much thinking up there and it can mess you up.”6 May’s second blast finished the scoring in the Astros’ “12-batter, 24-minute half-inning” in which they scored nine runs to blow open the game, 16-2.

The Astros added their final two runs in the seventh against Kremmel. Campbell singled and scored on Milbourne’s triple. Gross’s single that drove in Milbourne finally ended the onslaught. Roberts faced the minimum of three Cubs batters in both the eighth and ninth innings to close out a seven-hitter that raised his record in the young season to 4-2. In contrast to Roberts, the six Cubs pitchers had allowed 20 hits and six walks, thrown five wild pitches, and balked once, leading Cubs pitching coach Hank Aguirre to say, “What the bleep can you say about something like that?”7 Manager Lockman had the answer, conceding, “We got the bleep beat out of us.”8

Although several Astros players had contributed greatly to the demolition of the Cubs, the superlative performance belonged to Lee May, who went 5-for-5, including his two homers, three runs scored, and four RBIs. Cliff Johnson replaced May in the top of the eighth and batted in the bottom of the same inning, depriving May of the opportunity to do further damage. The only person who seemed unimpressed by the performance was May himself, who said of his two homers in one inning, “It’s been done before,” and reminded reporters, “I had some bigger ones [games] when I was with Cincinnati.”9

Box scores for this game can be found at and

1 “Metzger Hurt in Freak Accident,” Corpus Christi Caller-Times, April 30, 1974: 4B.

2 John Husar, “Astro Swallows Tongue: Mates Save Life,” Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1974: 3-1.

3 Joe Heiling, “Rader, Edwards Save Metzger’s Life, The Sporting News, May 18, 1974, 30.

4 Fred McMane, “Houston Astros in Orbit, Bomb Cubs 18-2,” Galesburg (Illinois) Register-Mail, April 30, 1974: 14.

5 John Husar, “Astros Rock Cubs, May Socks 2,” Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1974: 3-2.

6 Joe Heiling, “Two Homers in Inning Not Enough to Excite Lee May,” The Sporting News, May 18, 1974, 19

7 John Husar, “Astros Bombard Cubs 18-2,” Chicago Tribune, April 30, 1974: 3-1.

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