Michael Jordan’s ‘Flu Game’ and Tiger Woods Winning the U.S. Open on a Broken Leg Pale in Comparison to Indians Pitcher Ray Caldwell Finishing a Game After Being Struck by Lightning

In a word, no.

Tiger Woods, a two-time winner of the U.S. Open, did so in remarkable fashion in 2008. He outlasted two other challengers, Phil Mickelson and Rocco Mediate, in the final round of the green jacket, which was moved to a wind-swept Chambers Bay near Tacoma, Washington, for the final two holes. While a broken leg could have kept the U.S. Open from being completed, the injury must have been considered minor compared to what a weather-related injury would have meant for Woods.

In the long and eventful history of professional sports… and sport in general… Countless athletes have performed during injury or illness, and many of these performances have become legendary. Muhammad Ali fought Ken Norton with a broken jaw in one of the most difficult fights of his career. Who can forget Willis Reed waddling out of the Madison Square Garden tunnel for Game 7 of the 1970 NBA Finals? Or Kirk Gibson waddling to the plate before hitting the decisive home run in the 1988 World Series? What about Kerry Strug, who jumped on one leg at the 1996 Olympics? Like Michael Jordan’s famous flu game, which really should have been called a poison pizza game, and Tiger Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open at Torrey Pines with a broken leg. But while all of these feats, and many others, were phenomenally daring, none, at least in this writer’s humble opinion, compare to what Cleveland Indians pitcher Ray Caldwell did on the 24th. In August 1919, he finished a full game after being struck by lightning. Yes, you read that right.

Ray Caldwell had a 12-year MLB career with the Yankees, Red Sox and Indians

word-image-2885 word-image-8471 Ray Caldwell circa 1913 | George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images For those of you who don’t know Ray Caldwell: Born in New York City in April 1888, he played 12 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. His best season was with the Yankees in 1914, where he went 18-9 and had a 1.94 ERA. Over the course of the season, however, his drinking problems led to numerous altercations with manager Frank Chance, and he received several fines nearly equal to his salary. Chance resigned when these fines were issued because he felt his credibility had been undermined. The following season, Caldwell won 19 games (but lost 16), but his off-field problems worsened and he left the team in 1916 and did not appear at the start of spring training in 1917. The Yankees gave him one chance after another, but by the end of 1918 they had had enough and sent him to the Boston Red Sox. In the 1919 season, Boston places Caldwell with Babe Ruth, which may not be the best idea given Babe’s addiction to nightlife. Caldwell quickly survived Beantown and was released in August of that year. And that’s where our story begins. Shortly after his release from the Red Sox, Caldwell was drafted by a Cleveland Indians team competing against the Chicago White Sox for the American League championship. The Indians were aware of his off-field problems, but were willing to ignore them because they desperately needed an extra arm in the home stretch. Caldwell spent three seasons in Cleveland and finished his career there, but it was his first appearance with the team that became one of those legendary stories.

Caldwell ends a complete game against the Philadelphia Athletics after being struck by lightning

. The 24th. In August 1919, Caldwell made his debut for the Indians in Cleveland against the Philadelphia Athletics. He allowed just one run on four hits in 8 2/3 innings and was on pace to throw a complete game against shortstop Joe Dugan, who was 1-for-2 with one walk in his previous three innings. And then it happened. As a summer thunderstorm passed over Cleveland, lightning struck League Park, taking Caldwell out of the game. Some said lightning struck the iron railing near the press box and fell onto the field, but Indian historian Franklin Lewis said lightning struck directly at the pitcher’s mound, and Caldwell himself later said lightning struck him through the metal button on top of his hat. No matter how you look at it, Caldwell was shot at close range and lay unconscious on the field for over five minutes, and many feared he was dead. One of his Indian teammates would later say he got a shock just by touching Caldwell’s head. When he finally regained consciousness, Caldwell refused medical attention and also refused to leave the game. For whatever reason, the Indians, the judges and all other decision makers of the time allowed this to happen, which of course would never happen today. Caldwell was determined to finish what he started and he did. Dugan hit a grounder to third base, and that was the end of the Indians’ 2-1 victory.

He threw a no-hitter against the Yankees just over two weeks later.

. Just five days after the loss against the Lightning, Caldwell was back on the field in his next start, giving up three runs on eight hits in the decisive loss against the White Sox. After winning his next game against the St. Louis Browns, Caldwell meets the Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader on the 10th. September opposite. In the opener against his former team, Caldwell threw the fourth no-hitter in franchise history, striking out five and allowing only one walk in the Indians’ 3-0 victory. It’s as if this infatuation rejuvenated Caldwell’s career, at least for a while. He won two more times for the Tribe that season, and the next year he went 20-10 with a 3.86 ERA, helping Cleveland win the American League championship and the World Series. However, he worked primarily as a bullpen in 1921 and went 6-6 with a 4.90 ERA in his final major league season. He played in the minors until he was forty, but never got another chance in the big leagues. In 12 seasons in the MLB, Caldwell won 134 games, one of which will forever be remembered as his most courageous achievement in professional sports history. statistics provided by Baseball Reference COMPARED TO: What was the last no-hitter for an MLB team?

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