9 Strange Sports-Related Deaths
1Raymond Chapman Killed by Spitball
On August 16, 1920, Chapman was hit by a pitch at the top of the 5th inning in a game with the New York Yankees. Back then, spitballs and other ornery tricks were quite common and the ball thrown by Carl Mays was reportedly very erratic and hard to see. It hit Chapman so hard, it sounded like the crack of a bat. Chapman froze momentarily before falling to the ground with blood pouring out his ear; he died early the next day. After that, umpires were required to immediately replace dirty balls, although the batting helmet didn't become mandatory until 1971.
2“King Kong” Kirk Killed by Belly Slam
It was a Pro Wrestling stunt gone horribly wrong. In 1987, Malcom “King Kong” Kirk and his partner, King Kendo, were in a tag team match with Shirley “Big Daddy” Crabtree and Greg Valentine. Big Daddy, huge at 6' 6” and 375 lb, was famous for his body slams and King Kong was certainly no wimp at 6'1” and 353 lbs. However, when Big Daddy slammed King Kong with his “Belly Splash,” Kirk turned grey and had to be rushed to the hospital. It was later learned that Kirk had a heart condition, so it wasn't technically Big Daddy's fault. Still, Kirk's death haunted him and he retired from wrestling.
3Death by Zorbing
Never heard of Zorbing? Basically it's a sport where you and possibly a partner or two roll down a gentle slope in a giant plastic ball. This is usually pretty safe, but there have been a couple of deaths. In January 2013, Denis Burakov died and his friend was seriously injured in a Zorbing mishap, when the ball began to roll out of control in Dombay, Russia; a similar death was reported in the Czech Republic in 2009.
4Children's Entertainer Killed While Adjusting TV Antenna to Watch Sporting Match
5Angry Teen Killed by Own Golf Club
6Bobby Leach, Barrel Diver, Dies From Slipping on Banana Peel
7LIghtning Kills Entire Football Team
8Harry Houdini Died From Punch to Abdomen
914-Year-Old Boy Killed by Foul Ball
Foul balls, however, only have taken the life of one in 150 years: a 14-year-old boy named Alan Fish off the swing of Los Angeles Dodger Manny Mota on May 16, 1970. The ball flew so fast, no one saw it coming and the boy initially appeared fine but later began acting incoherently so they took him to the hospital; he died 4 days later. It was pointed out that Mota's teenage nephew would also die playing baseball 14 years later.
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