John Dwight Chesbro
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 9", Weight 180 lb.
- Debut July 12, 1899
- Final Game October 2, 1909
- Born June 5, 1874 in North Adams, MA USA
- Died November 6, 1931 in Conway, MA USA
Nicknamed "Happy Jack", Chesbro began his minor league career in 1895. He broke into the majors in 1899 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, going 6-9 for the club. After going 15-13 in 1900, he won 21 games the next summer while leading the National League with 6 shutouts. He began throwing a spitball the next season (spitballs were legal until 1920) and went an astonishing 28-6 with a 2.17 ERA, leading the circuit in wins and shutouts.
In 1903, Chesbro jumped to the upstart American League, joining the newly formed New York Highlanders (later to be known as the New York Yankees). He pitched the franchise's first game and went on to record 21 victories that season. In 1904, he had one of the finest years in the history of pitching, starting 51 games and finishing 48 while posting a 1.82 ERA, struck out 239 batters, and collected 41 wins over 454.7 innings pitched. That year, no other pitcher in the league won more than 26. On the last day of the season, though, in a game against the Boston Pilgrims, he threw a wild pitch in the top of the 9th inning, allowing the winning run to score from third base and causing the Highlanders to lose the pennant to Boston.
Chesbro retired in 1909, having accumulated a 198-132 career record and been part of two pennant-winning teams (in 1901 and 1902). His first Baseball Card appearance was in the 1903-1904 E107 Breisch Williams.
His 1904 record for games won in a season (41) has stood for over a century, which is one of the oldest major records in baseball, or in any other sport. Under current playing practices, his record is just about unbreakable. Chesbro started 51 games that season (plus 4 relief appearances) and pitched 48 complete games, for a record of 41-12. Today, it is uncommon for a pitcher to start even 35 games in a season and complete games are a rarity. The only other 40-win season since 1900 was 40 by Ed Walsh in 1908. However, to put Chesbro's performance in perspective, in the 1880s it was common for league-leading pitchers to win 40+ games. It was last done, prior to Chesbro, in 1891.
- 2-time League Wins Leader (1902/NL & 1904/AL)
- 2-time League Winning Percentage Leader (1902/NL & 1904/AL)
- 2-time AL Games Pitched Leader (1904 & 1906)
- AL Innings Pitched Leader (1904)
- AL Complete Games Leader (1904)
- 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (1901 & 1902)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 7 (1900-1906)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 5 (1901-1904 & 1906)
- 25 Wins Seasons: 2 (1902 & 1904)
- 30 Wins Seasons: 1 (1904)
- 35 Wins Seasons: 1 (1904)
- 40 Wins Seasons: 1 (1904)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1900-1908)
- 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1903-1906)
- 400 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1904)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1904)
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1946
- Wins, season (since 1893), 41, 1904
- Wins, right-hander, season (since 1893), 41, 1904