August 16 - 1920 - Ray Chapman is Fatally Hit By a Pitch
Only one player in Major League Baseball history has ever died from an injury sustained during a game. In the fifth inning of a game between the American League leading Cleveland Indians and the third place New York Yankees on August 16, 1920, Yankees pitcher Carl Mays threw a pitch that hit Indians shortstop Ray Chapman. Chapman fell to the ground and was bleeding from his ear. The ball came off his head so hard that Mays believed he had connected with the bat, and Mays threw the ball to first baseman Wally Pipp. Chapman would be assisted off the field, but was barely conscious and died within twelve hours of being beaned. Chapman's death was one of three hugely impactful events in 1920. Before the season began, the Red Sox sold pitcher/outfielder Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees, and Ruth would hit 54 homeruns, showing a new way to play the game. Chapman's death in August made baseball create a rule that umpires had to keep fresh, white balls in play, eliminating the spitball and defacing the baseball. Finally, in September, it was revealed that eight members of the 1919 White Sox had thrown the World Series in conjunction with gamblers. The Indians would beat the White Sox for the AL Pennant and eventually won the World Series. Yet it was Ray Chapman's death that seemed to effect the game most profoundly.