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The Chesbro Wild Pitch:  October 10, 1904

The place was Hilltop Park. The event was a last day of the season doubleheader between the New York Highlanders and the Boston Pilgrims.  At stake was the American League pennant. To win the pennant the Highlanders needed to sweep the doubleheader.

New York had been atop the American League standings throughout most of the 1904 season, but Boston surged at the end to move in front by a game and a half.  A sweep of the doubleheader by the Highlanders would given them, the pennant.

Spectators overflowed the playing field. They were 10 and 20 deep in the outfield. The estimated crowd was about 25,584, most in Hilltop Park history. And most of those in attendance were there to cheer on the Highlanders.

Spitballer "Happy Jack" Chesbro, 41 game winner, took the mound for the Highlanders. He was opposed by Boston's Bill Dineen, a 22-game winner. The game was scoreless until the fifth when New York scored twice. In the seventh inning, Boston tied the score with two unearned runs on a pair of errors by New York second baseman Jimmy Williams.

The game moved to the ninth - tied 2-2.  A single by Boston catcher Lou Criger. A sacrifice moved him to second. A ground ball moved him to third. Freddy Parent was next.  Chesbro worked the count to one ball and two strikes. Then the spitter fluttered to the plate. Perhaps there was too much on it. Perhaps all the innings Chesbro had pitched that season caught up to him. The ball sailed over the head of catcher Jack "Red" Kleinow. Wild pitch. Criger scored.

Boston 3 New York 2.

When the Highlanders failed to score in the bottom of the ninth, Boston had its second straight pennant. The second game of the doubleheader was won by New York, 1-0, in 10 innings.  But the win meant nothing.

There were those who took some pride in the fact that the Highlanders doubled their first season's attendance and won 20 more than games than they did the season before. But that 1904 season would be the closest the team would come to winning a pennant in its first 18 years.   

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

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Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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