Bona: When lightning struck Cleveland pitcher Ray Caldwell, who lived and won the game

From Marc Bona at the Cleveland Plain Dealer on August 20, 2015:

Of baseball’s many arcane moments, Ray Caldwell’s debut in a Cleveland uniform was shocking, to say the least.

Weeks earlier, New York released the veteran pitcher, who had been Babe Ruth’s roommate on the road. The Indians picked up Caldwell in the middle of his 10th major-league season, and he took the mound on a Sunday afternoon, Aug. 24, 1919, against the Philadelphia Athletics.

With two outs in the ninth and the Indians leading 2-1, an ominous sky hovering, lightning struck. Sparks spit along Dunn Field’s metal railings.

In the flowery prose of the day, The Plain Dealer described the scene: “Thousands of spectators were thrown into a momentary panic by the bolt which came without warning and made as much noise as the backfiring of a thousand autos or the explosion of a dozen shells from a battery of big berthas.”

Caldwell faced Joe Dugan. With the game a strike from being over, lightning zapped the pitcher, who fell.


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Originally published: August 20, 2015. Last Updated: August 20, 2015.