Ray Caldwell

From BR Bullpen


Raymond Benjamin Caldwell
(Rube, Sum, or Slim)

  • Bats Left, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 190 lb.

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

"Caldwell was one of the best pitchers that ever lived, but he was one of those characters that keep a manager in a constant worry." - Miller Huggins in 1924 about Ray Caldwell

Ray Caldwell was a successful major league pitcher, and also served as a pinch-hitter and outfielder. He won 134 major league games as a pitcher and hit .248, something which is better than it may seem because he achieved it mostly during the dead-ball era when hits were scarce. After his major league career he continued to play for many years in the minors. Caldwell was famous for his "irregular habits". His SABR biography describes his love of night life, women and alcohol.

Caldwell was born in Corydon, PA, and pitched only one season in the minors before coming up to the bigs. In the minors with McKeesport in 1910, he went 18-14. After making his major league debut in September 1910, he stayed in the majors for 12 years. Among his best seasons were 1914, when he went 17-9 for a New York Yankees team which went 70-84, and 1915, when he went 19-16 for a Yankee team which went 69-83. In 1919, he split his time between two teams, going 7-4 for the Boston Red Sox and 5-1 for the Cleveland Indians. On August 24th that year, playing for the Indians, he was struck by lightning while pitching with two outs in the 9th inning against the Philadelphia Athletics; he was knocked unconscious, but was revived and finished the game by retiring Joe Dugan for the last out! The next season, 1920 he went 20-10 for the pennant-winning Indians and pitched once in the 1920 World Series, failing to escape the first inning. The Indians still won the series. After an off year in 1921, he was back in the minors for many years, from 1922 to 1933. He won 22 games for Kansas City in 1922 and 20 games for Birmingham in 1930.

Ray had 154 major league at-bats as a pinch-hitter, getting 36 hits. He was also used sometimes as a position player, getting into 11 games as a Highlander outfielder in 1911, 6 games as a Yankee first baseman in 1914, 8 games as a Yankee outfielder in 1917, 19 games as a Yankee outfielder in 1918, and smaller numbers in the field in other years. Interestingly, he appeared in center field more often than in left or right - and his career 23 stolen bases show that he had some speed.

After baseball, he had a farm in New York, worked as a telegraph operator and also tended bar in a couple of places. He managed the 1933 Keokuk Indians and 1940 Fremont Green Sox.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 15 Wins Seasons: 3 (1914, 1915 & 1920)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1920)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 5 (1911, 1914, 1915, 1917 & 1920)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1915)
  • Won a World Series with the Cleveland Indians in 1920

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Playoffs Notes
1933 Keokuk Indians Mississippi Valley League 6th replaced Ed Sicking
1940 Fremont Green Sox Ohio State League -- -- replaced by Garland Sewell

Further Reading[edit]

  • Art Black: Showdown at Rickwood: Ray Caldwell, Dizzy Dean, and the Early Years of America's Oldest Ball Park, Blue Rooster Press, Birmingham, AL, 2017. ISBN 978-0988980730
  • Eric Chesterton: "Pitcher struck by lightning, unconscious, stayed in: It was an electric performance", mlb.com, April 4, 2020. [1]
  • Chad Osborne: "August 24, 1919: Ray Caldwell struck by lightning, sparks Indians to win", SABR Games Project. [2]
  • Alysha Tsuji: "98 years ago an Indians pitcher was struck by lightning and still finished the game", "For the Win!", USA Today Sports, August 24, 2017. [3]

Related Sites[edit]