It breaks your heart. It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. ~A. Bartlett Giamatti, “The Green Fields of the Mind,” Yale Alumni Magazine, November 1977
One of the graves I always point out to guests on my tours of Lakeview is the grave of Raymond Johnson Chapman. Ray Chapman, nicknamed Chappie, holds the unfortunate distinction of being the only Major League baseball player killed by a pitched ball and one of only two who died as a direct result of the game in general. Chapman, a shortstop for the Cleveland Indians, was a talented team player who set records in walks, runs scored, putouts, assists, and stolen bases. He had already announced he would retire from baseball at the end of the 1920 season, much to the disappointment of his fans and teammates. During an away game in New York against the Yankees on August 16, 1920, Chapman was struck by a pitch thrown by Carl Mays. He soon lapsed into a coma and, despite surgery died the next day. The Indians dedicated their season to him and won the league and the championships.
Chapman’s fans raised the money to erect the large, simple monument. Fans still make the pilgrimage to the resting place of the fallen baseball star to leave their tribute of baseball caps, gloves, bats, and balls.