Carl Mays, From Kingfisher to the Big Leagues Now Open Through September 2015!
Photograph taken of the 1910 Hennessey Sluggers. Carl Mays pitched the Sluggers to the State Championship game in 1909.
Carl Mays, former Kingfisher County resident, pitching for the New York Yankees.
Carl Mays while playing for the Boston Red Sox.
Carl Mays, former Kingfisher County resident- One of the best Major League Baseball pitchers of his time!
Carl Mays, Kingfisher native and former Major League Baseball player for the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, is one of the most successful pitchers with Oklahoma ties in his history. May’s story is unbelievably unique. Mays moved to Kingfisher, Oklahoma after the passing of his father in the early 1900s, where he was introduced to the game of baseball. As a teenager and young adult, Mays pitched for the Kingfisher baseball team, and then moved approximately 20 miles north to pitch for the “Hennessey Sluggers” in 1909, where he lead the team to the title game played in Enid. Mays recorded a no-hitter and won every game he pitched for the “Sluggers” according to the Hennessey Clipper newspaper. Towards the conclusion of his baseball career, Mays retained his ties to the Kingfisher County area, sending letters to friends who were still residing in Hennessey while still playing in the Majors. After playing several years away from Oklahoma in the minor-leagues, Mays finally got his break when he was “called up” along with fellow teammate, Babe Ruth, to play for the Boston Red Sox in 1915. This would begin a long and extremely successful baseball career for Mays. Mays would go on to win four World Series, three with the Boston Red Sox (1915, 16, and 18) and one with the New York Yankees (1923). Mays closed out the very last game of the 1918 Red Sox World Series- the last Red Sox team that would win a World Series until 86 years later in 2004. Mays to this day holds the Boston Red Sox pitching record for pitching two complete winning games in one day! Mays played Major League Baseball for 14 years (1915-1929), nine of which were played with the legendary Babe Ruth! Throughout his 14 year career, May’s career win loss record was 207-126, with an Earned Run Average of 2.92 and 862 strike outs. Out of the top winning 10 pitchers with Oklahoma ties Carl Mays ranks fifth in total career wins (according to the top pitchers listed in the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame). Carl Mays remains the only pitcher out of the 10 not inducted into the Oklahoma and Major League Sports Hall of Fame. All four pitchers preceding Mays on the win list are all in the Oklahoma Sports and Major League Baseball Halls of Fame (Warren Spahn, Carl Hubble, Ferguson Jenkins, and Joe McGinnity). All four preceding pitchers have a combined total of three World Series titles between them, whereas Mays has a total of 4 World Series wins. Out of the 10 top winning pitchers with Oklahoma ties the bottom five in wins below May’s win record are all either in the Oklahoma and/or Major League Sports Hall of Fame! Unfortunately, Mays also holds one very unfortunate distinction which has kept him out of the Oklahoma Sports and Major League Baseball Halls of Fame. On a hot day in August of 1920 while pitching for the New York Yankees against the Cleveland Indians, “Carl Mays peered in from the mound and noticed Ray Chapman shifting his back foot. The speedy Cleveland shortstop had a habit of fidgeting when he was about to drop down a bunt. The best way to stop a bunt is to bust ’em inside, Mays figured, so the Yankees pitcher threw a fastball, high and tight. It was Aug. 16, 1920, at the Polo Grounds in New York. The pitch struck Chapman in the temple. He died a day later, to this day the only major leaguer killed during a game. Mays claimed it was an accident, but to his death in 1971 he never lived it down.” Later in life Mays was quoted as stating: “Nobody ever remembers anything about me except one thing. That a pitch I threw caused a man to die.” Mays lived with remorse and regret over this awful accident for the rest of his life. Although this would ultimately cause him from being inducted into the Hall of Fame, those who were closest to Mays stated that he was a very kind and gentle person. For example, later in life, according to Kathy Short of the Mansfield, Missouri Historical Society stated “Mays would return home [to Missouri where he was born and had family members still living] and donate discarded Yankees uniforms to the local barnstorming team. He’d gather the town’s children, take them to an apple orchard and play ball for hours. This is one example of many kind moments related by those who knew Mays best. Mays also commented shortly after the incident that “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.” Regardless of this incident of which he was later exonerated, the numbers do not lie that Mays is probably the best pitcher with Oklahoma ties to never be inducted into the Oklahoma Sports and Major League Baseball Halls of Fame!
605 Zellers Avenue Chisholm Trail Museum- Kingfisher, OK Phone 405-375-5176 Open Tuesday-Saturday 10am- 5 pm *closed on major holidays