A thrilling season-long pennant race enabled the Highlanders to more than double their home attendance in 1904, although the campaign ended in disappointing fashion when New York finished in second place, just 1 ½ games behind the American League champion Boston Americans. The Highlanders pursued the Americans all year long, finally catching them in August, before trading league leadership honors with them until the season’s final days.
The Highlanders remained in contention all year long largely because of Jack Chesbro, who compiled one of the most amazing seasons in American League history. The right-hander established a 20th century record by posting a record of 41-12. Only one other pitcher (Chicago’s Ed Walsh in 1908) has since won as many as 40 games. Chesbro also finished the year with a 1.82 ERA, 239 strikeouts, 48 complete games, and 455 innings pitched. His extraordinary performance allowed the Highlanders to enter the season’s final week with an opportunity to overtake the Americans for first place.
New York faced Boston in a critical four-game series at season’s end, with the A.L. pennant at stake. Chesbro defeated the Americans in the first contest, giving the Highlanders a slim half-game lead. Boston won each of the next two games, though, re-taking first place by a 1 ½ game margin. Chesbro returned to the mound for the series finale, pitching his team to a 2-2 tie heading into the top of the ninth inning. However, he uncorked a wild pitch over the head of catcher Deacon McGuire during that frame that enabled the Americans to score the game-winning and pennant-clinching run. New York had to settle for a close second-place finish, ending the year with a record of 92-59.
While Chesbro served as the driving force behind New York’s strong showing, several other players contributed to the success of the team. Willie Keeler led the Highlanders in batting for the second straight year, with a mark of .343. Outfielder John Anderson led the team with 82 runs batted in, while fellow outfielder Patsy Dougherty topped the squad with 80 runs scored. Meanwhile, Chesbro received a considerable amount of help in the starting rotation from Jack Powell, who finished the year with 23 victories, a 2.44 ERA, 38 complete games, and 390 innings pitched.By Bob_Cohen
- Boston Americans, Deacon McGuire, Ed Walsh, Jack Chesbro, Jack Powell, John Anderson, New York Highlanders, New York Yankees, Patsy Dougherty, Willie Keeler