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Attendance at Hilltop Park fell off by more than 100,000 people in 1905, as the Highlanders limped home in disappointing fashion with a record of only 71-78, finishing the year in sixth place in the American League. New York fans found the team’s poor performance particularly disconcerting since the Highlanders had remained in contention until the season’s final days the previous year.
The Highlanders allowed the opposition more runs than they scored themselves for the first time in their brief history, surrendering 621 runs to their foes, while crossing the plate a total of 586 times themselves. Jack Chesbro, who compiled a season of historic proportions in 1904, pitched well for the team again, although he didn’t come close to repeating his earlier performance. Chesbro finished the year with a record of 19-15, a 2.20 ERA, and 24 complete games. Al Orth emerged as a solid number-two starter, winning 18 games, throwing 305 innings, and completing 26 of his starts, while pitching to a 2.86 ERA.
However, most of the team’s veteran players began to show signs of aging. Although 35-year-old player/manager Clark Griffith pitched effectively for the club, compiling an ERA of 1.68, he found himself relegated to mostly bullpen duty, starting only seven games and throwing a total of just 102 innings over the course of the season. Willie Keeler also appeared to be nearing the end of his career. The 33-year-old outfielder led the team in batting for the third straight year, but he posted a relatively modest mark of .302 – 41 points below the figure he compiled one year earlier.
Still, the team did have one bright spot. First baseman Hal Chase made his major-league debut with the club. Although the 22-year-old rookie batted just .249 and scored only 60 runs, he stole 22 bases and displayed the exceptional glove work in the field for which he eventually became renowned.By Bob_Cohen