Caldwell was a successful major league pitcher and hitter who could have been even more successful if not for his off-field activities.
Caldwell was born in Corydon, Pa., on April 26, 1888. Corydon no longer exists because in 1965 it was put under the water of the Allegheny Reservoir when the Kinzua Dam was built. He grew up and completed high school at Salamanca.
Caldwell had a 133-120 record with 184 complete games and an ERA of 3.22 while pitching for the New York Highlanders, also called the Americans and later the Yankees, from 1910 through 1918, the Boston Red Sox for part of 1919 and the Cleveland Indians from 1919 through 1921. He had 1,006 strikeouts and 21 shutouts.
He won 20 games in 1920 for the Indians. He pitched more than 300 innings in 1915 with the Yankees and worked more than 200 innings in 1911, 1914, 1917 and 1920.
Caldwell threw a no-hitter for the Indians against the Yankees on Sept. 10, 1919. And in 1920 he pitched in the World Series for Cleveland, which defeated Brooklyn.
[reproduction number, LC-USZ62-115199]
At Cleveland's League Park in 1919, Caldwell was struck by lightning in the bottom of ninth with two outs when pitching against Philadelphia and was unconscious. After regaining consciousness, Caldwell continued to pitch and got the final out.
When the spitball was outlawed in 1920, Caldwell was of 17 pitchers allowed to continue throwing the pitch.
In an interesting bit of trivia, Ray Caldwell was the starting pitcher for the New York Highlanders in the opening day game at the brand new Fenway Park, April 20, 1912.
He was so successful early in his career with the New York Americans, Washington offered Walter Johnson for him in a trade.
But Caldwell also known as mainly a pitcher of immense talent that was not always used. According to a biography of the right-hander by Steve Steinberg, "Ray's flashes of brilliance were usually followed by 'outbreaks of misbehavior,' followed by repentance, recovery, and pitching excellence, before the cycle began anew."
Grantland Rice wrote in 1914, "Caldwell could be as great as Matty (Christy Mathewson) or Walter Johnson, but instead of choosing their careers, he is evidently going to be another Rube Waddell."
And Fred Lieb, who covered baseball for 70 years, wrote in 1918, "Caldwell might have the Mathewson of the Yankees, but he turned out to be the Bugs Raymond of the local Americans. His irregular habits destroyed his effectiveness."
Caldwell was also quite a hitter and was often used as a pinch hitter. He hit .248 in 1,164 at bats and drove in 114 runs.
Caldwell showed his prowess with the bat in 1913 when he became the only pitcher in history to hit home runs on three successive days. The first two were as a pinch hitter.
Caldwell played 12 years in the minor leagues for Kansas City, Little Rock, Milwaukee, Memphis, Akron, Birmingham, Charlotte and Keokuk. He won 159 games and won 20 games twice.
[reproduction number, LC-B2- 2669-11 P&P]
He also managed in the minor leagues for the Keokuk Indians in 1933 and the Fremont Red Sox in 1940.
Caldwell bought a farm in Frewsburg in 1940 and worked at the train station at Ashville as a telegrapher for the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburgh Railway.
He later worked as a steward and bartender at the Lakewood Rod & Gun Club, where his fourth wife, Estelle, was a cook.
Ray Caldwell died in Salamanca on August 17, 1967, and is buried in Randolph. He was inducted into the Chautauqua Sports Hall of Fame in 2010.
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