Posts Tagged ‘cleveland indians’

Chapman (2)

I stopped by Ray Chapman’s grave last weekend to see what the latest offerings were. The Cleveland Indians’ Chappie has been gone for 93 years, and yet, still the pilgrims come to see his grave and pay their respects.

Chapman (1)

Chapman (3)

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Erie Street Cemetery’s most famous ghost is Joc-O-Sot, a Native American who died in Cleveland, probably of tuberculosis. Not a great deal is known about Joc-O-Sot (“Walking Bear”). After fighting in the Blackhawk Wars against the United States, he arrived in Cleveland sometime in the 1830s and offered his services as a guide for hunting and fishing expeditions. He joined a traveling theater troupe that was supposed to teach about Native American life. Shortly before his death in 1844, he traveled to England and had an audience with Queen Victoria. When he died, local Clevelanders who had known him as a guide paid for his burial and monument.

Chief Joc-O-Sot

But, the story goes, Joc-O-Sot wanted to be buried closer to the land of his birth (assumed to be somewhere near Wisconsin or Minnesota) and his interment in Cleveland angered him. That anger is purported to have been so intense that it cracked the original marker, which now lies flush with the ground.

Joc O Sot

Joc-O-Sot’s ghost is supposed to roam the cemetery and occasionally pay visits to the Cleveland Indians’ baseball stadium right across the street, disrupting their games.

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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.

Raymond Chapman

Raymond Johnson Chapman

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