26 January 2015

black armbands for ray chapman

ray chapman was the shortstop for the cleveland indians from late in the 1912 season through august 16, 1920.  the schedule that day in august saw the indians play the yankees, and chapman was beaned in the head by yankee starter carl mays.  although he was initially able to walk to first base, chapman soon thereafter collapsed on the field and was taken to the hospital.  he passed away the next day, becoming the only major league player to die from being hit by a pitch, and one of two to have died directly or indirectly (the philadelphia athletics' doc powers died in 1909 from post-surgical infections brought on after being operated on to fix internal injuries he suffered after crashing into an outfield fence during a game) from injuries sustained on the field.

according to the hall of fame, many teams added black armbands to their uniforms in honor of chapman, including the indians, red sox, tigers, and yankees in the american league, along with the reds, robins, cubs, and giants in the national league.  i have in my memorials binder a few cards showing the armband, such as this 2002 upper deck sp legendary cuts ty cobb card

the tigers went away from the old english 'd' from 1918 through 1920, and 1920 is the only season that they wore a black armband (according to the hall of fame), so i am confident that the armband cobb is sporting is in honor of chapman.

similarly, the uniform that babe ruth is wearing on this 2011 topps stickers foil sticker
includes the black armband that the bronx bombers wore for chapman.  i know this because the jersey features the 'new york' lettering that the team wore on their away jerseys from the beginning of ruth's tenure with the team in 1920 through 1926. the club went back to 'new york' on the away grays during the last few seasons of ruth's yankee days (1930-1934), but the placement of the 'y' was different.  besides, the only other time the yankees wore a black armband while ruth was a member of the team was at the end of the 1929 season to mark the passing of manager miller huggins, which came during the time that the team's away jerseys said 'yankees' on the front.

also from the yankee team of 1920 comes the photo of hank thormahlen that was used on his 1990 target dodger 100th anniversary set
thormahlen actually looks like he's wearing two black armbands, and i don't know why.  he was a pitcher with the yankees from 1917 through 1920.  thormahlen actually relieved carl mays later in that fateful game and threw a scoreless 9th inning.

chapman's team, the indians, wore the armband for the remainder of the season and postseason, as they advanced to the world series against the brooklyn robins.  you'll notice in the photo linked above that, while the indians wore the armbands in the fall classic, the robins did not, or at least did not for the entire series.  i would guess that it was more likely that the non-cleveland teams wore the armband for a short time during the month of august.

anyway, this 2006 upper deck sp legendary cuts card represents the armband worn by the tribe in my collection. it features their ace - hall of famer stan coveleski
who is also wearing the armband on his 2006 upper deck classics card
coveleski was the starter for the indians in the game in which chapman was beaned, and he beat the yankees with a complete game for his 19th win of the season.  coveleski went on to beat the robins three times in the world series by completing each of his three starts, one of which was a shutout.

in 2010, the indians broke out the 1920 uniforms, complete with the black armband, to celebrate the 90th anniversary of their first championship.  here's a shin-soo choo toppstown card from 2011 topps that shows the throwback uni
so, i've got 3 of the 8 teams that reportedly wore the armbands in my collection, and i'm on the lookout for the others although i'm not holding out hope.


Nick said...

That's neat that the Indians kept the armband intact with those throwbacks.

Corky said...

Mike Powers from the Philadelphia A's died from injuries sustained during a game in April 1909.

Matthew Scott said...

I agree with Nick that it was pretty cool the throwbacks still had the armband. Great post!

gcrl said...

@corky - you're right about doc powers. he died a couple of weeks after crashing into the outfield wall in 1909, but the cause of his death was post-surgical infection. i'll clarify in the post.