Exactly 105 years ago today, the Cuban Giants on the Negro Leagues were playing a regular season game in Atlantic City, NJ. Of course, we are talking about a time when weather forecasts were non existent and the means of traveling a message were far more complex than they are today.
Thanks to www.seamheads.com, a fantastic website that has gone out of its way to obtain as many stats to as many Negro League games as possible, the website has calculated that the 1909 Cuban Giants played a total of 4 games. Likely, those were the 4 games that researchers found were scored. Their 2B in 3 of the 4 games was a young man by the name of William Bedford. For a team that (according to the stats accumulated) did not hit very well (.205 cumulative average), Bedford stood out with 4 hits (all singles) in 16 at bats for a .250 average. He also walked once, stole a base and drove in two runs while making one error in the 12 defensive chances over the course of the four games he played (one of which was at SS).
Sadly, during a game played on 8/26/1909, Bedford took the field during a game with some evidence of rain in the near future. Of course, there was no forecast; as the players and coaches had not had any inclinations they would be in any danger by playing the game. During the inning, a huge bolt of lightning struck the playing field in Atlantic City, NJ. It happened to strike the ground just below Bedford's metal baseball spikes. The electricity from the lightning went through his spikes and up into his upper body causing him to collapse to the ground. The medical examiners determined that Bedford died instantly as a result of the lightning strike. Further research has shown that there has never been another instance of a baseball player being struck by a bolt of lightning during a game.