ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Eighty years after the end of his career and nearly 40 years after his death, Carl Mays has finally earned recognition for something other than the only fatal pitch in major league history.
The Missouri Sports Hall of Fame said Tuesday that Mays has been selected for induction, along with former Cardinals third basemen Ken Reitz and former Royals pitcher Steve Busby. A ceremony will be held Oct. 22 in Springfield.
Mays won 207 games during a 15-season career that ended in 1929, won 20 or more games five times and pitched in four World Series. His accomplishments were overshadowed by the pitch in 1920 that killed Cleveland Indians shortstop Ray Chapman. Mays, who was pitching for the Yankees, said the beaning was unintentional.
Mays grew up in the Mansfield area of southern Missouri. Over the past several months, two women from the Mansfield area, Kathy Short and Ann Duckworth, started a letter-writing campaign to get him into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
"I almost cried when I found out," Short said Tuesday. "I'm a hometown girl so I'm a little biased, but we're very excited."
Mays was born in Kentucky. His family moved to Mansfield when he was 2, and lived there for about a decade before moving to Oklahoma. He made frequent visits back to Mansfield during and after his playing days, and built a home for his mother just outside of town.
Mays began his baseball career with the Boston Red Sox in 1915. He was traded to the New York Yankees in 1919.
On Aug. 16, 1920, the Indians were in New York for a crucial series when Chapman stepped to the plate in the top of the fifth. Figuring the speedy Chapman might try to bunt his way on base, Mays threw high and inside.
The ball struck Chapman in the temple. He was taken to a hospital, where he died.
Despite the loss of their shortstop, the Indians went on to win the AL pennant and the World Series. Mays went 26-11 that year and pitched nine more seasons, but his legacy was tainted.
"It is the most regrettable incident of my baseball career," he told The New York Times after Chapman's death, "and I would give anything if I could undo what has happened."
In an interview last month with The Associated Press, Duckworth and Short said few knew the soft side of Mays, who organized games with the children of Mansfield during his frequent visits to the community, and who donated old Yankees uniforms to the town team.
Reitz, 58, spent most of his 11 major league seasons with the Cardinals, where he was known as the "Zamboni Machine" because of his strong defense at third base. He won a Gold Glove award in 1975 and was an All-Star in 1980. He hit .260 for his career.
Busby, 59, was with the Royals for his entire eight-season career. He won 56 games from 1973 through 1975 before injuries cut short his career. Overall he was 70-54 with a 3.72 ERA. He was an All-Star in 1974 and 1975.
On the Net:
Missouri Sports Hall of Fame: http://www.mosportshalloffame.com
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)