“Outpitched by a Nineteen-year-old Country yap”

17 Mar

By 1911, Jack Chesbro had been two seasons removed from professional baseball. Lou Guernsey of The Los Angeles Times said:

“Only a year or two ago Jack Chesbro’s praises were sung throughout the length and breadth of the land. Everyone knew who Jack Chesbro was. Everyone from the slant-jawed-son-of-the-slums to the Boss Barber knew that Jack originated the spitball and was the great big calcimine applier in the American League…his appearance at the bat or on the field was the signal for a great outburst of cheers. He was idolized.”

Jack Chesbro

But, said Guernsey, “the inevitable” followed:

“He started to slip. He lost control, couldn’t get his spitter working right and he was banged all over the lot by opposing swatsmen. He looked around one day after he had twirled a losing game and found his friends had gone and that tremendous thing we call fame struggling around somewhere in the vortex of oblivion…Chesbro went, or rather was sent away.”

Guernsey said he had recently visited Massachusetts:

“I stopped at a little town called Whitinsville. It was necessary for me to pass several hours in the little puritanical hamlet in order to catch my train on another road.” I followed a thin line of people out to a typical country baseball field in the afternoon to see Whitinsville hook up with a team from a nearby town.”

Sitting on the bleachers, he said re related:

“Is Chesbro going to pitch today?’ I heard one bewhiskered individual ask of a Whitinsville fan sitting next to him.

“’I guess they’re goin’ to put the big dub in today,’ replied the fan rather hopelessly.”’

And there on the bench sat:

 “Happy Jack Chesbro of international fame once upon a time sitting with his fellow players. He was chewing a wad on Navy plug and fingering his glove.”

Chesbro took the field to, “Not a handclap or cheer,” while Guernsey recalled just three years earlier in New York hearing “25,000 frenzied fans shout the name of Chesbro until the very grandstand trembled.”

According to Guernsey:

“The game commenced. The nearby villagers fell against Jack’s curves and shoots for a total of seventeen hits totaling thirty-one bases. Whitinsville couldn’t do anything with the lanky twirler for the opposing team and they lost the game 11 to 3. Chesbro outpitched by a nineteen-year-old country yap.

“After the game the manager of the Whitinsville team paid Chesbro his $10 for pitching the game and informed him that services would no longer be needed. He went, or rather was sent away.”

Chesbro’s fate had become part of a cycle:

“The fickle crowd throws itself at the feet of the hero for the moment only to rise soon to cast itself before another idol and forget the one upon whom it showered praises at first.”

Chesbro made one last attempt to return to pro ball in 1912, failing to get signed after tryouts with Pittsburgh and Brooklyn in Hot Springs, Arkansas. He returned to Massachusetts and continued pitching in semi-pro leagues well into his 50s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: