He nearly became the second player killed in a major league baseball game on May 25, 1937, when he was struck in the head by a pitch from Bump Hadley of the New York Yankees. Of course, 17 years earlier another Yankee pitcher (Carl Mays) had beaned Ray Chapman, the Cleveland shortstop dying the next day.
Cochrane was administered the last rights and was in very critical condition for about a week. He never played another game and he was never the same as a manger again either. It’s likely that he had severely fractured his skull and suffered trauma to his brain. In ’38 he was replaced as manager of Detroit. His beaning was horrific, and because he was a star player, there was a clamor for the use of batting helmets, but baseball officials resisted the call for a rules change. It wouldn’t be until 1971 that MLB made it mandatory for players to use a helmet. Veteran players were grandfathered in and could continue to play without a helmet, though most chose to wear one. Bob Montgomery was the last player to bat in the big leagues without a helmet, in 1979 for the Red Sox.
Cochrane was a terrible loser. After the A’s lost Game Seven of the 1931 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals, he got into a famous shouting match on an flight to the east coast when teammate Hank McDonald failed to show the proper amount of disappointment at the loss.