Monday, May 19, 2008

38 years ago ...

It was on this date 38 years ago -- May 19, 1970 -- that Ray Schalk died.

Schalk, the National Baseball Hall of Fame catcher and subject of my next book, had battled throat cancer for nine months, and he caught pneumonia 10 days before his death in Wesley Memorial Hospital, Chicago.

The former Chicago White Sox catcher and manager was 77 years old.

One of his grandsons last week told me that so many people showed up to pay their respects, the funeral home had to devote all four of its viewing rooms to Ray's wake. The grandson and his sister counted 168 cars in the funeral procession to Evergreen Cemetery in suburban Evergreen Park.

Widely regarded in the first two decades of the 20th century as the game's best catcher, Schalk is not well-known today. It doesn't help that the team for which he labored and showed devotion does not even honor the Hall of Famer with other White Sox greats on its outfield wall. Some on the outfield wall are not even in the Hall. (Red Faber has suffered the same fate.)

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