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Single Most Devastating Death In Baseball History

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  • Originally posted by JohnGelnarFan
    I didn't realize that Chapman ever got up. I always thought he was hit and never regained consciousness. His eye was hanging out of the socket and they walked him to the clubhouse? What happened after that? Where and when did he die?
    After they got him to the clubhouse, he was unconscious. Taken at once to the hospital, where they did emergency surgery to relieve the pressure in his skull.

    Here are some excerpts from "The Pitch That Killed".

    After several minutes, Chapman was revived sufficiently to be helped to his feet. When he stood, there was an outburst of applause from the relieved fans.

    Chapman shrugged off all efforts at assistance and began to walk across the infield toward the clubhouse in Center field. He ws flanked by Graney on one side and another Cleveland player on the other. As Chapman approached second base, his knees began to buckle and the two players quickly grabbed him. They draped his arms around their shoulders and carried him the remainder of the distance to the clubhouse."

    . . .

    Inside the clubhouse, there was nothing to do but wait. The two doctors who had tended him on the field had determined Chapman should undergo an immediate operation to relieve the pressure on his brain. An ambulance was en route from St. Lawrence Hospital, which was less than one-half mile away. Dr. Casio assured those in the room that although the injuries were serious, he did not believe they would be fatal."

    . . .

    When the ambulance finally arrived it was Henry who climbed into the back with Chapman. He held an ice pack to Ray's head on the drive to the hospital.

    At 9:30 that night, the doctors summoned Speaker and McNichols to a room for an update on Chapman's condition. X rays had confirmed the ballplayer had sustained a two-armed fracture extending 3 1/2 inches to the base of his skull on the left side. It was a depressed fracture, and one piece of bone was pressing down on the brain. Worse, Chapman's pulse was dropping at an alarming rate, and was down to forty."

    . . .

    With the patient's condition worsening, the doctors believed it would be unwise to postpone surgery until Kathleen (his fiancée) arrived the following morning. Speaker and McNichols talked it over, and at ten o'clock the Cleveland manager gave approval for the operation.

    The operating team would consist of Dr. M. J. Horan and Dr. T. D Merrigan of the St. Lawrence staff, with Dr. Joseph Cascio, A. A. Thite, and J. E. Quinn as attendants.

    Before surgery could begin, Chapman suffered spasms on both sides, indicating to the surgeons that the brain on both sides had been injured by the force of the blow. Dr. Merrigan said there probably was a laceration on the right side of the skull, opposite the side that had been stuck.

    At 12:29 A.M., Chapman was placed on the operating table. The surgeons made an incision 3 1/2 inches long through the base of the skull on the left side and found a rupture of the lateral sinus and a quantity of clotted blood. Dr. Merrigan removed a piece of skull about 1 1/2 inches square and found the brain had been so severely jarred that blood clots had occurred.

    The shock of the blow had damaged the brain not only on the left side of the head, where the ball had struck, but also on the right side, where the shock of the blow had forced the brain against the skull. The surgeons noted there were symptoms of paralysis.

    The operation lasted one hour, fifteen minutes. Afterward, Chapman began breathing easier and his pulse climbed back to ninety. The physicians believed the chances of his recovery were fair, but they said it would take forty-eight hours to know for sure.

    Chapman died at 4:40 AM in the morning, Tuesday, August 17, 1920. In remembrance of him, many teams wore black armbands around their left arms for the remainder of the season.
    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-31-2006, 05:49 AM.

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    • That's almost exactly the way Gay describes it in his bio of Tris Speaker.

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      • are we sure chapman's eye was hanging out of the socket?

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        • Originally posted by bkmckenna
          are we sure chapman's eye was hanging out of the socket?
          I believe I read that in both Sowell's book and the new Speaker bio. On both accounts, the noise was so resonant and the rebound so great off Chappie's head that it was thought to actually be a ball in play, and was fielded.

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          • Originally posted by bkmckenna
            are we sure chapman's eye was hanging out of the socket?
            We? We weren't there. WE read it in the book, "The Pitch That Killed"

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