Today in 1933, truly a moment for the record books: a pitcher in a pro baseball game got injured after being bitten by his own false teeth.

His name was Clarence Blethen, though teammates referred to him as “Climax” after his favorite brand of chewing tobacco.

The Maine native had a couple of short stints in the major leagues, including one where he pitched to Babe Ruth, but mostly he was a longtime minor leaguer.

He sometimes played outfield and sometimes pitched.

A manager might have Blethen come in from the outfield and pitch to a specific batter, while the pitcher would cover the outfield.

Then, they’d switch back for the next batter.

But Blethen’s most (in)famous moment came not from pitching or fielding but from baserunning.

It’s important to note here that he’d had all of his natural teeth removed and received a set of false teeth.

Possibly this was because of the chewing tobacco, though some people claimed it was either to look more intimidating during games – or somehow, according to one account, to protect his pitching arm!

Chethen was playing for the Knoxville Smokies, an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

On June 6, 1933, his team was hosting Chattanooga, and Blethen had gotten on base.

While trying to advance, he slid into the next base.

That would have been fine, except that he was carrying the false teeth in his hip pocket.

As the Sporting News wrote, “when he slid, the teeth, in some way, became connected and did nothing else than take a bite out of Blethen in a tender spot.”


Sometimes opportunity knocks – and sometimes disappointment bites you in the behind.

The Society for American Baseball Research also notes that after he retired from playing, Blethen became executive vice president of National Little League.

In 1965, at age 72, he managed to hurt himself again while showing young ballplayers how to slide.

Hopefully it wasn’t because of the false teeth that time.

Today in 1942, Adeline Gray became the first person to test a nylon parachute, since silk was in short supply because of World War II.

Gray was an experienced jumper, so maybe no surprise that the New York Times said she was as calm “as if she were going out on the porch to bring in the daily paper.”

Clarence Blethen (Society for American Baseball Research)

Meet the Daredevil Parachutist Who Tested the First Nylon Parachute 75 Years Ago (Smithsonian)

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Photo by Joel Dinda via Flickr/Creative Commons