Player Profile


John Chesbro
(Jack, Happy Jack)
B: Jun 5, 1874  North Adams, MA
D: Nov 6, 1931 

Conway, MA


Throws Right
Bats Right
Height 5'9"
Weight 180 lbs
Seasons 11

Biography / Info

  • Jack Chesbro pitched major league baseball from 1899 until 1909. He's most often noted for a wild pitch that may have cost his team a pennant. That same season, he posted what statistically was the greatest season a pitcher has ever had.
  • As a youngster, he played with many western Massachusetts sandlot teams. In 1894, at age 20, he answered an ad for employment at the state's mental hospital. He spent time with patients, but spent more time playing on the hospitals baseball team. Here he acquired his nickname of 'Happy Jack', a reflection of his genial personality. 
  • The following season, Jack pitched for Albany and Johnstown of the New York State League. The league folded and he finished out the year with Springfield of the Eastern League. Without catching anyone's eye as a pitching prospect, Jack traveled to Cooperstown, New York and played semi-pro ball for a year. 
  • In 1897, Jack landed a job with the Richmond club of the Atlantic League and posted a 16-18 record. At Richmond, he developed and refined his pitching skills. The following season, he posted a 23-15 record and although the Orioles gave him a look, they passed him up and he returned to Richmond for the 1899 season.

His Playing Days

  • 1899 - In July, the Pirates took notice of him and his 17-4 record at Richmond and purchased his contract for $1500. 
  • 1900 - With the addition of Honus Wagner and a decent core pitcing staff, the Pirates jumped from 7th place to 2nd.
  • 1901 - Chesbro leads the league in winning percentage and the Pirates win the National League pennant. 
  • 1902 - Begins to effectively use the spitball en route to a 28-6 record, including a 12 game win streak Another pennant for the Pirates.
  • 1903 - Jack flocks to the American League, where the salaries where extremely competitive with those of the National League. He joins the New York Highlanders (Yankees), who were in their maiden season. New York finishes 4th, while his old team the Pirates, wins another pennant.
  • 1904 - Trailing Boston by 1-1/2 games, New York and Boston would settle the pennant on the seasons final day by playing a doubleheader at Hilltop Park in New York. With the score tied at 2 in the 9th inning, Boston advanced a man to 3rd base with two outs. Despite his fantastic  41-12 record, Jack uncorked a wild pitch that allowed Boston to score the winning run. New York won the second game 1-0, but still finished a game and a half back. Jack had a tough time coping with the one that got away for years to come. 
  • 1907 - An ankle injury limits him to 30 games.
  • 1908 - Pitches reasonably effective but plays on a last place New York club. 
  • 1909 - The wear and tear of many innings over a short period and the use of the spitball caught up with Jack. Needing 2 wins for his 200th career victory, he pitches in 9 games for New York, but he can't get anyone out. New York releases him and is picked up in September by the Boston Red Sox. He pitches in one game (against New York) and picks up a loss.

Post Major League

  • Out of baseball, he returned home and developed a chicken farm, which he and his wife managed. He became a baseball coach at Amherst College and continued to pitch in semi-pro ball. In 1912, he attempted a comeback with the Yankees, but was unimpressive and released. 
  • In 1924, his one time manager Clark Griffith offered him a coaching job with the Washington Senators. He accepted but financial problems caused his tenure to be less than a month. From here, Jack tended to his chicken farm until his death in 1931. 

Hall of Fame

  • Chesbro was named to the Hall of Fame in 1946. 

Career Statistics

Year

Team

Lg W L G GS CG SH SV IP H BB SO ERA
1899 PGH NL 6 9 19 17 15 0 0 149 165 59 28 4.11
1900 PGH NL 15 13 32 26 20 3 1 215.2 220 79 56 3.67
1901 PGH NL 21 10 36 28 26 6 1 287.2 261 52 129 2.38
1902 PGH NL 28 6 35 33 31 8 1 286.1 242 62 136 2.17
1903 NYY AL 21 15 40 36 33 1 0 324.2 300 74 147 2.77
1904 NYY AL 41 12 55 51 48 6 0 454.2 338 88 239 1.82
1905 NYY AL 19 15 41 38 24 3 0 303.1 262 71 156 2.20
1906 NYY AL 23 17 49 42 24 4 1 325 314 75 152 2.96
1907 NYY AL 10 10 30 25 17 1 0 206 192 46 78 2.53
1908 NYY AL 14 20 45 31 20 3 1 288.2 271 67 124 2.93
1909 NYY AL 0 4 9 4 2 0 0 49.2 70 13 17 6.34
  BOS AL 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 6 7 4 3 4.50

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