Today in 1919, one of the strangest moments in the history of baseball: a pitcher won a game in which he was struck by lightning!
The man on the mound was Ray Caldwell.
He had pitched a no-hitter and served as a starter in the very first game at Boston’s Fenway Park AND Brooklyn’s Ebbetts Field.
He had once been Babe Ruth’s roommate, and one of the few pitchers allowed to continue throwing the spitball after it was otherwise outlawed.
But nothing in Caldwell’s career was as colorful as what happened when he took the mound for Cleveland against the Philadelphia Athletics.
His team was ahead 2 to 1 in the ninth inning.
The skies had been cloudy all day, and rain had been falling since the fourth inning, though not enough to stop the game outright.
There were two outs.
Caldwell was pitching to Philadelphia shortstop Joe Dugan.
And then… a huge bolt of lightning.
An enormous sound.
People in the stands ran for cover.
Other players had felt the electricity, too; some even said their legs went numb.
But somehow Caldwell had gotten the worst of it.
He was knocked flat to the ground, and he stayed there for five minutes.
His teammates were scared their pitcher had been done in.
But somehow, Caldwell got up, checked his arms and legs and said he was ready to pick up where he’d left off.
And he got Joe Dugan for out number three, winning the game just as the skies opened up and rain started pouring down.
I guess it’s appropriate that Caldwell gets struck by lightning, gets zapped by electricity and then gets Dugan on a ground out.
Today in 2006, the International Astronomical Union redefined what a planet was.
Under the new definition, Pluto was no longer a planet but a minor planet.
The American Dialect Society later said the word of the year was “plutoed,” which meant “to demote or devalue someone or something.”
A lightning strike fueled baseball’s most electrifying performance (Accuweather)
Aug. 24, 2006: Pluto Deplanetized (WIRED)
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Photo via Wikicommons