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The Major League Baseball Pitcher Who Got Struck By Lightning

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Not many people are struck by lightning. In fact, the odds of ever being struck in your entire lifetime is just 1 in 3000. But the people who are unlucky enough to get up close and personal with this weather phenomenon certainly remember their encounters—assuming they live through the experience, of course. Most survivors sustain long-term injuries, including nerve, muscle, and hearing damage, not to mention the wicked-looking burn marks known as Lichtenberg figures that result when capillaries rupture from the electricity.

And then there's the case of pitcher Ray Caldwell.

August 24, 1919, marked Caldwell's first game as a Cleveland Indian. He was pitching well against the Philadelphia Athletics, despite a persistent rain that had started in the fourth inning, and by the ninth, the Indians were up, 2-1.

Caldwell quickly put away the first two batters and, with the A's down to their final out, Jumping Joe Dugan stepped to the plate. Then suddenly, lightning struck—literally. A bolt hit the iron rail in front of the press box, made its way down the steel posts and across the infield, and struck Caldwell on the mound. Or else it struck the dirt of the pitcher's mound directly. Or else it entered the metal button on the top of Caldwell's cap and exited the metal spikes of his shoes. Accounts differed, but regardless, the pitcher was knocked clean out.

He later told the Cleveland Press, "It felt just like somebody came up with a board and hit me on top of the head and knocked me down."

Players rushed the mound and fans panicked as Caldwell lay unconscious for five minutes. But he eventually came to, and when he did, he wasn't content with simply surviving the lightning. He got to his feet, shook his head, and insisted on finishing out the game. With his next and final pitch, he induced a ground out to third to hand the Indians a crucial win

Despite his close call, Caldwell seemed to have no lasting health effects; in fact, he pitched a no-hitter the very next month. After his playing career ended, he managed in the minor leagues for several years—and presumably stayed in the dugout whenever it looked like rain.

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Pop Culture
The Simpsons's Classic Baseball Episode Gets the Mockumentary Treatment
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Fox Sports, YouTube

Opinions vary widely about the continued existence of The Simpsons, which just began its 29th season. Some believe the show ran out of steam decades ago, while others see no reason why the satirical animated comedy can’t run forever.

Both sides will no doubt have something to say about the episode airing Sunday, October 22, which reframes the premise of the show’s classic “Homer at the Bat” installment from 1992 as a Ken Burns-style mockumentary titled Springfield of Dreams: The Legend of Homer Simpson.

As Mashable reports, “Homer at the Bat” saw Montgomery Burns launch his own baseball team and populate it with real major league players like Wade Boggs, Steve Sax, and Jose Canseco to dominate the competition. In the one-hour special, the players will discuss their (fictional) participation, along with interviews featuring Homer and other members of the animated cast.

It’s not clear how much of the special will break the fourth wall and go into the actual making of the episode, a backstory that involves guest star Ken Griffey Jr. getting increasingly frustrated recording his lines and Canseco’s wife objecting to a scene in which her husband's animated counterpart wakes up in bed with lecherous schoolteacher Edna Krabappel.

Morgan Spurlock (Super-Size Me) directed the special, which is slated to air on Fox at either 3 p.m. EST or 4:30 p.m. EST depending on NFL schedules in local markets. There will also be a new episode of The Simpsons—an annual Halloween-themed "Treehouse of Horror" installment—airing in its regular 8 p.m. time slot.

[h/t Mashable]

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Seattle Mariners Fans Are Going Crazy for These Crunchy Grasshopper Snacks
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Great Big Story, Youtube

Seattle Mariners fans have more than warmed up to the newest, offbeat addition to the Safeco Field concessions menu: toasted grasshoppers covered in chili-lime salt.

The crunchy snack, which sells for $4 and comes packed in a small container, has only been available for less than a season but has already sold 300,000-plus orders to date. That's about 1000 pounds of grasshoppers. 

Frequenters of Seattle's popular Mexican restaurant Poquitos will know that this delicacy—which first started as a novelty item on its menu—has actually been available to the public for six years. But it wasn't until local chef Ethan Stowell was hired to give the Safeco Field menu a hip retooling that the salty bugs found new, fervent popularity at the ballpark. (Also on the Safeco menu: fried oysters drizzled in hot sauce.)

Great Big Story met up with Manny Arce, the executive chef of Poquitos and visionary behind this culinary home run, to discuss the popularity of these crunchy critters. You can watch the video interview below:

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