Happy Jack, 56, dies of heart attack

Updated: October 14, 2005, 4:44 PM ET
By Larry Schwartz | Special to ESPN.com

Nov. 6, 1931

Jack Chesbro, who holds the 20th-century record of 41 victories in one season, dies suddenly from a heart attack on his chicken farm in Conway, Mass. He was 56.

Chesbro's best pitch was a spitball, saying it was the "most effective ball that possibly could be used." The 5-foot-9 righthander said he could make the ball drop two or three inches or a foot and a half.

Chesbro, nicknamed Happy Jack, had a 197-128 record in 11 seasons. His best season came in 1904, when he won 41 games with the New York Highlanders, now known as the Yankees. However, in going for his 42nd victory on the season's regularly scheduled final day with New York needing a sweep of Boston to take over first place, he threw a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth inning that allowed the winning run to score. This enabled the Red Sox to clinch the pennant.

That season Chesbro completed 48 games in 51 starts, both 20th-century records, and pitched 454 2/3 innings.