Raymond Benjamin Caldwell
Born: April 26, 1888 - Croydon, PA
Died: August, 17, 1967 - Salamanca, NY
MLB Pitching Record: 133–120
New York Highlanders/Yankees AL (April 26, 1888 - August 17, 1967)
Boston Red Sox AL (1919)
Cleveland Indians AL (1919–1921)
If there was ever a player with unlimited potential for greatness, Ray “Slim” Caldwell was that player. Some say Caldwell could have been the greatest pitcher of his era. In 1914, sportswriter Grantland Rice remarked that Caldwell would be as great as Mathewson or Johnson had he not chosen the same path as Waddell.
A fun-loving ladies man, notorious for drinking and after-hours carousing, Caldwell sometimes disappeared for extended periods of time, leaving his team in the lurch. Caldwell would show flashes of brilliance but then falter because of his alcohol abuse. The normal tactics of fines and suspensions did not keep him in line. In 1914, he finished 17–9 with a brilliant 1.94 ERA, but he could have easily won 20 had he not been benched and fined numerous times because of his off-field antics.
In 1915 he pitched more than 300 innings, and logged at least 200 innings another four times. An excellent hitter, Caldwell once hit home runs over three consecutive days. Caldwell was so good that the Senators offered Walter Johnson for him in 1914. Although he frustrated Yankees management, they stuck with their ace pitcher for years because of his great talent, but they finally had enough in 1919 and traded him to the Red Sox, where he lasted less than a season.
After joining the Tribe in 1919 he threw a no-hitter. That year, while pitching against the Phillies, Caldwell was struck by lightning in the bottom of the ninth with two outs. He was knocked unconscious but got up and pitched to get the final out. He won 20 in 1920 for the Indians but in 1921 Caldwell was up to his antics again, which ended his days in the MLB. He went on to pitch 12 years in the minors because no Major League team would touch him. Between the majors and minors, Caldwell won nearly 300 games. After all of the antics, Caldwell straightened up in retirement. He bought a farm, worked as a telegraph operator for the railroad, and later worked as a bartender with his fourth wife. Ray Caldwell was certainly one of the more colorful characters in the Cracker Jack Collection.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html