Polo Grounds, August 16, 1920
As you lay on the ground, Ray,
on that terrible afternoon,
blood oozed from your ear.
Mays had delivered his submarine pitch,
hurling the muddy, stained baseball
through the twilight from mound to plate.
They say you didn’t even see the ball,
which is why you didn’t move as the pitch
cut in on you. When Mays heard the crack,
and the ball squibbed back to him,
he thought he’d heard the bat, not your skull,
and he threw to first for the putout.
You managed to stumble to your feet,
then collapsed again, and they rushed you
to the hospital, where you died hours later.
They all took off their caps for you,
Ray Chapman, as you passed through
this game into the next.
Before you left for the road trip from Cleveland
to New York, you and your young wife took a look
at the new house being built for you.
She was expecting your first child,
and you told her you would retire soon
to raise your family, and join the family business.
If only they had helmets back then,
you would have had the chance.