Admission to Ray Chapman’s Grave at Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery is free.
- Open daily from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
- Location: (Map It) Lake View Cemetery at 12316 Euclid Avenue in Cleveland, OH 44106
- Phone: 216-421-2665
Visit Ray Chapman’s Grave at Lake View Cemetery in Cleveland: The Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds report for Spring Training in mid February. It’s the time of year when everyone talks about baseball legends and folklore and dreams of winning the pennant.
When I was a kid, I was (and still am) a die-hard Tribe fan. And the story I’ll share is one that is well-documented, little known, and told by my father and his father before.
Ray Chapman, “Chappie,” was a fan favorite and beloved by his teammates. He played shortstop for the Cleveland Indians from 1912 – 1920. In 1917, he set a record for most sacrifice hits, 67, in a season. He was a decent hitter with a career batting average of .278. He set a team record for stolen bases in a single season, 52, that stood until 1980. In 1918, he led the American League with runs scored and walks. He was an excellent bunter and if the Gold Glove were awarded then, he’d probably have a few of those too.
Back in the early 1900s, pitchers ruled the diamond. They could do things to the ball that today’s pitchers could only fantasize. They scuffed it, spit tobacco juice on it, smeared dirt all around it, and eventually turned the white leather into a dark mass. New York Yankee submarine pitcher Carl Mays mucked the ball up with the best of them.
And on August 16, 1920, Chappie stepped into the batters box to face Mays. Due to the lack of lighting and the invisible ball, many believe Chapman never even saw what killed him. It struck him in the head; batting helmets weren’t required until 30 some years later.
Although many say Chapman may have been inducted into the Hall of Fame had his career not been cut short, he will forever be remembered as the only modern-era professional baseball player to die as a direct result of being hit by a pitched ball.
His death later led to changes in rules governing “doctoring” the baseball.
For the rest of the 1920 season, the Cleveland ball club wore black armbands to honor their fallen teammate. Together, they achieved winning their first World Series that year.
Ray Chapman is buried in Cleveland’s Lake View Cemetery. More than 100,000 others spanning all walks of life join him, including President James A. Garfield, Eliot Ness, and John D. Rockefeller. Lake View Cemetery is also considered a beautiful botanical garden. If you want to pay homage to a fallen hero of America’s pastime, put a flower on Raymond Johnson Chapman’s grave this season and whisper “play ball.”
Excerpts from article written for OhioTraveler.com eMagazine by Frank R. Satullo