In a brief 11-year major league career that began in 1899, no season was as memorable for Jack Chesbro as 1904, for good and ill. Chesbro had a successful career with the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Highlanders, but what he accomplished in 1904 was unparalleled, winning 41 games, a post-1900 record that is safely unbreakable. A master of the spitball, Chesbro won 20+ games five times and twice led the league in winning percentage. It was an errant Chesbro spitball, however, that sailed over the head of catcher Red Kleinow on the last day of the season and gave the 1904 pennant to the Boston Red Sox, souring his otherwise amazing performance for New York that year. Despite the impressive numbers, his brief career and his failure to win 200 games make his election to the Hall one of the more questionable choices in its history, likely heavily due to his one incredible season.
Chesbro’s gravestone is one of the simplest and most original ever, even beyond The Hall Ball Project. Two modest plaques, one for himself and one for his wife Mabel, are embedded in the side of a giant granite boulder.
September 18, 2010