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The team had a new owner, when John I. Taylor – son of the owner of the Boston Globe – purchased the ballclub for an estimated $150,000. The announcement was made just after the 5-0 Opening Day win over Washington, which had been preceded by ceremonies at the flagpole in center field where two banners were raised: the 1903 American League championship pennant and the flag celebrating Boston’s win in the 1903 World Series.

The Americans played the 1904 season using only 18 players throughout the course of the season, only five of which were pitchers. The team didn’t need more than those five; this squad posted a 2.12 earned run average. Of the 157 games played (95-59, with three tie games), a full 148 of them were complete games.

Unsurprisingly, Cy Young dominated once again, and he set the stage early on, proving nearly unhittable for days on end. The last two innings he threw in the April 25 game were without a hit, followed five days later with seven innings of hitless ball in relief.

And on May 5, facing Philadelphia’s Rube Waddell, Young pitched a perfect game. It remains the only perfect game ever thrown by a Boston pitcher – though some would count Ernie Shore’s game in 1917 as such. Young’s hitless innings streak stood at 18.

On May 11, Young’s first six innings were hit-free; his streak had run to 24 1/3 innings, a full 76 batters in a row who’d failed to get a hit – but he wasn’t thrown off his game. He kept going…and going…and threw a 15-inning shutout. By the time he finally let an opponent get a run, he’d thrown 45 scoreless innings.

American League architect Ban Johnson wasn’t above mixing things up in the interests of creating a pennant race, and he knew a strong team based in New York would be good for business. The reigning World Champion Boston Americans suddenly traded one of their most popular players – Patsy Dougherty, the club’s leading batter - for New York infielder Bob Unglaub, who had only ever appeared in six games and was hitting .211. Unglaub hit worse for Boston, but was only given 13 at-bats. Dougherty once more led the league in runs scored and played a role in New York giving Boston a run for the pennant.

There wasn’t much of a race in the National League. By the end of July, it was pretty clear that John McGraw’s New York Giants would capture the flag. McGraw and team owner John T. Brush announced on July 27 that they would not lower themselves to play in a “world series” with the AL. "When we clinch the National League pennant, we'll be champions of the only real major league," McGraw sneered.

There was a second no-hitter for Boston, crafted by Jesse Tannehill on August 17. He hit the first batter he faced and walked another one in the first, but didn’t let any White Sox batter collect a hit, not even his younger brother Lee Tannehill, Chicago’s third baseman.

The pennant race came right down to the wire, Cy Young’s eighth shutout of the season saw Boston take first place on October 2, .6095 to New York's .6083 – but this season ended late and there were eight games left to play. On October 7, with only five head-to-head games remaining on the schedule, it was New York which took a half-game lead as Jack Chesbro beat Boston for his 41st win of the season.

The very next day, the two teams played a pair, and New York asked Chesbro to pitch on zero days’ rest. It was a bad idea, and Dinneen beat him and then Cy Young shut out NY, 1-0. With another doubleheader, this time in New York two days later, all Boston had to do was win either game to win the pennant. Chesbro came back once more, and it was a tie game in the top of the ninth, when he threw a wild pitch and Lou Criger scored from third for a 3-2 lead, which Dinneen maintained with his 37th complete game of the year.

The Sporting News declared Boston champions by default. Cy Young was 26-16 and an earned run average of 1.97. Dinneen was 23-14 (2.20), and Tannehill was 21-11 (2.04). The team wasn’t that strong offensively, with a .247 average and Buck Freeman’s 84 RBIs far and away tops on the team. But it was enough for those 95 wins, and a back-to-back pennant.

By Bill Nowlin
 

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Tagged:
Ban Johnson, Bill Dinneen, Bob Unglaub, Buck Freeman, Cy Young, Ernie Shore, Jack Chesbro, Jesse Tannehill, John I. Taylor, John McGraw, Lee Tannehill, Patsy Dougherty, Rube Waddell
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