Not a ton of people are familiar with the story of Carl Mays these days, but know this much: he threw a pitch that killed a guy once. It was the only time a Major Leaguer has been killed on the field. The whole story, as written at the time, can be read here. In an environment where beer-throwers inspire media firestorms, one can only wonder what would have happened to Mays if, instead of killing Ray Chapman in 1920, he had killed Grady Sizemore in 2009.
Not that Mays didn’t suffer scorn in his lifetime. He never truly lived it down, despite having an otherwise fine career. But time heals all wounds, and some folks are now trying their best to rehabilitate the guy:
Eighty-nine years later, a handful of people are trying to get him recognized for what was one of the best careers of his era, long overshadowed by baseball’s only lethal pitch. Their goal is to have Mays enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s time he got recognized for his accomplishments, not just for this one accident,” said Ann Duckworth of Mansfield, the tiny Ozarks town where Mays was raised and spent many offseasons.
I guess everyone needs a hobby, but Mays doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy you want to go to the mat for. In addition to the Ray Chapman incident, Mays was long-rumored to have been in on a plot to fix the 1921 World Series, though it was never proven. He was also an ornery cuss, who many people didn’t like separate and apart from the fact that he killed a guy many people did like.
The Veterans Committee of the Hall of Fame — the real one, not just the Missouri one — is still considering him. I don’t get the sense that there’s any traction behind his case, and that’s probably how it should be.
The Marlins will hold a news conference on Monday, per a team announcement. The exact nature of the conference has not yet been disclosed, but MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro speculates that it is likely to focus on Víctor Víctor Mesa and Víctor Mesa Jr., two brothers and outfield prospects who have been linked to the organization over the last several weeks. CEO Derek Jeter and president of baseball operations Michael Hill are expected to be in attendance.
Víctor Víctor Mesa, 22, stands out as an above-average defender in center field and a premier talent in the international market. According to reports following the brothers’ workout at Marlins Park in early October, Víctor Víctor carries plenty of power potential at the plate, though it’s not yet clear how that will translate to in-game opportunities. The young outfielder produced a lifetime .279/.329/.371 batting line, 11 home runs, 76 stolen bases, and a .701 OPS over six seasons with the Matanzas and Industriales of the Cuban National Series and the Cuban national team during the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
There’s more uncertainty around 17-year-old Víctor Mesa, Jr., who was noted by scouts for his athleticism and above-average arm during the international prospects’ showcase several weeks ago. He previously played for Cuba’s 18U national team and appears to have potential in the outfield as well.
An additional report from Jorge Ebro of El Nuevo Herald clarifies that the Mesa brothers have already been in Miami for the past few days and are thought to have undergone the medical examinations necessary to sign with the team. If that’s the case, the club is in position to announce the signings next week. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez adds that Víctor Víctor Mesa could command a signing bonus upwards of $5 million, while Víctor Mesa Jr. stands to receive something in the ballpark of $1 million.