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Monday Morning Minnesota: Oops! All Old-Timey

Because I wanted to.

Boston BBC 1888 Photo by Transcendental Graphics/Getty Images

Hey friends, I’m here with the links and whooops, I dropped them all between the cyber floorboards of our cyber office we all live in as bloggers of pure energy. Guess I’ll just have to sprinkle some extra Old-Timey nonsense on top and hope no one notices!

The Ballad of Ray Caldwell

Born in 1888 as the metaphysical incarnate of alcoholism and/or a human baby, little Ray Caldwell had a normal old-timey childhood of smoking pipes and greco-roman wrestling honey badgers, or whatever. He would grow into a great pitcher, a world series champ, and a thrower of a no-hitter. However, what he is best remembered for is being just a really heckin’ awful human, and a monument to the resolute power of spite.

Ray got his professional start in 1910, pitching for something called the “McKeesport Tubers.” By 1914 he would be with the newly re-titled Yankees. There he would get manager to resign by generally being an angry drunk and not paying all the fines levied against him for said angry drunkenness, getting the team’s GM to rescind the fines against him in order to not lose him to greener pastures.

In 1916, Caldwell’s alcoholism reached a new low (High?) and he went AWOL in the middle of the season, and was suspended for two weeks, after which he remained gone and was further suspended, not showing up until two weeks into the next season’s spring training. Where he was and what he was doing for that time, no one seems to know.

He vanished again later, as well as being charged with grand larceny, AND being sued by his wife for alimony. Somehow none of this was enough, and the dude just kept on being allowed to be a baseball player.

in 1918, Ray decided he wasn’t a Yankee anymore and joined a shipbuilding company to avoid the draft. New York was all like “Yeah actually you can’t just leave?” and finally had enough of the guy, sending him to Boston, perhaps as an underhanded sabotage mission.

While pitching for the Red Sox, Ray straight up GOT STRUCK BY LIGHTNING in the middle of a game. He was out cold for several minutes before stumbling back to his feet and through sheer spite against nature and the universe itself, continued pitching and got the final out, winning the game.

Eventually no team would hire him anymore, probably due to fear that he was probably now a super hero. Ray went on to work a few different jobs in his post-playing days, including as a bartender at the “Lakewood Rod and Gun Club.” I have absolutely no idea what a rod and gun club is, but I’m pretty sure it should not under any circumstances have either a bar, nor a Ray Caldwell within.

How to Kill Your Family, and Receive Multiple Hall of Fame Votes Anyway

Remember how one guy didn’t vote for Derek Jeter on his HoF ballet and everyone got big angry about it? Remember how for the last decade people have been citing the character clause to deny steroid-era players? Well throw that shit all out the window, because there were a lot worse voting controversies in the past. (This story isn’t funny, it just really stuck with me as horribly sad and off-putting.)

Marty Bergen would play 3 seasons (1896-1899) for the Boston Beaneaters, all the while struggling from an unknown mental illness. Tragically, after refusing to take prescribed medication due to paranoia someone from the National League was trying to poison him, Bergen would murder his wife and two children with an axe before ending his own life.

Despite both that and his three entire years of MLB experience, he would receive two hall of fame votes.

Random Tidbits:

  • One of the first baseball teams, the New York Knickerbockers, are credited with wearing the first baseball uniforms. This uniform included a straw hat, and I have no idea why neither the Mets nor Yankees have done a throwback night wearing said straw hats.
  • in 1914, there was a team called the Buffalo Buffeds, because they were BUFFalo’s team in the FEDeral league and creativity wasn’t invented yet.
  • Trying to bleach my brain of the Marty Bergen story, I found a wholesome player in Harry Lord, one of the founding members of the Red Sox. Our hairiest of lords was once asked his hobbies and replied “My son and my daughter.” D’awww.

That’s it! If you read all that, hey thanks! and also, Why?!