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
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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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
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Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One.
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