Jeff Tesreau w. Jack Chesbro

Jeff Tesreau of the Giants, also known as Jack? This is a 1914 candy era card

Jeff Tesreau of the Giants, also known as Jack? This is a 1914 candy era card

Henry Schulman in the Chronicle, apropos of the Chris Heston gem, mis-identified the previous Giants rookie to toss a no-no; he called Jeff Tesreau “Jack Tesreau.”

I texted him on that, or I tried, at least to send something from my cell to his email. Don’t know the man.

The only reason I know of Jeff Tesreau is that he later coached for Dartmouth, or managed, for about 30 seasons. I only unearthed this bit of Big Green trivia when researching Harry Hillman, a triple gold medal winner from 1904 Olympics, who coached track in Hanover for a similarly long tenure. I interviewed a handful of athletes from that era, from the 1940s and they spoke of the fraternity of great coaches of that era: Hillman, Tesreau, Ozzie Cowles in hoops, Tom Dent in lacrosse. When I asked Quentin Kopp (’49) about all this, he suggested I expand my research to include the great gridder Swede Oberlander. I did my research in 2004-5, mostly and several of those sources have since passed on. I made a few more calls out of the blue in 2014, checking on my guys. Plus I called Pete Broberg, the former Texas Ranger, mostly about his father the legendary Gus Broberg, basketball All-America (not to digress again, but Pete said he too was a basketball Block, and even covered Julius Erving and held him to 10 points!!)

I actually did not recall Tesreau as a pitcher, nor did I know of his no-hitter, in 1912. (Actually, while watching Heston pitch, and thereby taping the amazing but disappointing Warriors Cavs Game 3 loss, I started to think about John “the Count” Montefusco, and thought he had delivered a no-hitter during his rookie campaign; no, but he did hit a homer, or maybe a homer in his first at-bat? TK: okay, the Count actually threw his no-hitter in 1976, his third season and both hit a home run in his first at bat and was rookie of the year, in 1974, a feat only matched by Wally Moon).

Tesreau was from Missouri. His given name was Charles M. but he was called “Jeff” because he reminded people of the famous boxer Jim Jeffries. He actually sent his son Charles Tesreau Jr to play for the Big Green (or, Indians) in 1938. Tesreau was 115-72 and 2.43 ERA in the majors; in fact, he was the ERA king the first year that was ever computed and contested. He quit his stint with the Giants relatively young, age 30, after an argument with John McGraw and took an offer to coach at Dartmouth, where he won 350 games or so, or his boys did, rather.

Dartmouth archive has him in 1938 with an unnamed player(note the Indian logo, partially obscured):
icon16470099c0000004A

Jack Chesbro meanwhile was a Hall of Fame pitcher, slightly before Tesreau’s time. I think I learned of him via those alltime great leader cards that they had on the back of 1974 or 1975 Topps, which I collected in real time.
From a wiki page:
John Dwight Chesbro (June 5, 1874 – November 6, 1931) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. Nicknamed “Happy Jack”, Chesbro played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1899–1902), the New York Highlanders (1903–1909), and the Boston Red Sox (1909). The Highlanders, by the way, used to play in that era up on 165th Street, on a hilltop and then moved to the Polo Grounds, they sublet from the Giants, and then after a testy exchange in the 1921 World Serious, were told to build their own stadium. They became the Yankees in 1913. Chesbro was 198-132 and a 2.68, good enough for the Veterans.
He’s the guy who still holds the record for wins in a season, 41 in 1904, back before there were relievers per se. (And Bill James, apparently argues against his being in HOF)
Here’s a 1910 Tobacco card T206 for Jack Chesbro, of the New York Highlanders (pre-Yankees):
chesbroNewYorkAmericanT206

Tesreau was known for his spitball, which was legal in that era. Incidentally, Chesbro was also a legal spitballer (compared to Gaylord Perry, years later, “Me and the Spitter”, but also a Giant). Chesbro won 198 games and was voted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1948.I get the impression that Tesreau, named for a boxer was a tougher character than Chesbro, called “Happy”.

If I know anything about baseball before World War II, it is probably from Lawrence Ritter’s oral history, “The Glory of Their Times” or indirectly from Ring Lardner “You know me, Al” a work of fiction.

I think Tesreau got to Dartmouth via Chief Meyers a Native American catcher who was an alumnus and played for the Giants. I had a Chief Meyers T205 tobacco card, and then passed it on to my friend the cat burglar of February, 2008. Likewise, my 1910 Christy Mathewson. (And a couple nice Mays’s but I digress).

My letters from NCAA champion miler Don Burnham ’44 include references to Jeff Tesreau, or I’ll look that up and addend. Someone else said that Don Burnham and his brother were like “Mutt and Jeff” in that one was tiny and the other large. Again, I digress.(I just looked it up: “Mutt and Jeff” in the Chronicle of early 20th century, Mutt was the bigger guy or normal whereas Jeff was the little guy or truly tiny; its a red herring here, or too Plasty).

I have to admit I was reading City of Palo Alto staff reports, on the 15-acre Fry’s site, which I like as a 7-acre park and 100 units of apartments, and knew I was watching a potential no-hitter, but missed some of the nuance, such as the fact that Heston did not walk anybody but hit three batters, including one to start the ninth, that he then struck out his last three victims or that he had a baserunning boner after a safety, that cost his teammates a run and an RBI.

I caught the Linceum no-hitter last summer, about this time, a Wednesday day game, I bought a standing room ticket and stood in right field, not missing a pitch. Come to think of it, Timmy is on TV starting right now, and the Warriors come on in 2 hours.

Yikes, Schulman actually tweeted it to his 46,000 followers:
Last #sfgiants rookie to toss no-no was Jack Tesreau in 1912, and no, I didn’t cover it.
Here’s a link to his article, I bought the hard-copy, being OG Sporting Green kind of guy.

R.J Lesch meanwhile has an excellent biography of Charles M. Tesreau at SABR.

World champion Jim Jeffries, Jeff Tesreau’s namesake, incidentally, defended his Heavyweight World Championship three times at the old Mechanics Pavillion, at Larkin, Grove, Polk and Hayes Streets, before that venue burnt to the ground in 1906 following The Earthquake, even more reason for San Franciscans and people like Henry “Hank” Schulman and his followers to get the respective stories straight. Jeff Tesreau w. Jack Chesbro w. Jim Jeffries.

andand: meanwhile, Timmy gives up his first hit, a Texas leaguer in the 4th as Giants fight on, in New York…75 pitches, Giants up 2-1. Oops now 3-2 baddies while I proofread….:(

andandand: Crawford homers as Giants retake the lead from Mets, 4-3, although I am switching to hoops mode…

andandandand: This is way off topic, and it the risk of being picked off, here is an article about Juan Nieves, who is the second youngest person to ever throw an MLB no-no, and now the Red Sox pitching coach and about reuniting with his former prep school catcher, at Old Avon Farms, my Dartmouth classmate Brian “B.C.” Conroy, who also caught future Giant Mike Remlinger in Hanover.

More notes:
1) I did send word of this to the Chron guy, and am hoping he will acknowledge such, and or own up to it in print and correct the record, on Jeff Tesreau. There’s a window before I would send such to “corrections@Chronicle.com” per se. I bought today’s paper just to see if they are self-correcting. I cannot believe I am the only one of HS’s 46,000 readers to notice this flub.
2) I found my letter from Don Burnham which is the source of my knowledge of Tesreau. Out of respect to Burnham, they should get this straight.
3) Thanks to the nonohitters site of Dirk Lammers, I found the oddity of a no-hitter by a Big Jeff Pfeffer. Big Jeff was born Francis Xavier Pfeffer in Illinois in 1882, and was 31-40 in six seasons in MLB, 1905-1911. Meanwhile his brother, Edward Joseph Pfeffer, born in 1988, was 158-112, 1911-1924, 13 seasons but known as Jeff Pfeffer. He is listed as 6’3″ 210 in Baseball Encyclopedia. (No height and weight for his older brother, an earlier era). So besides the rhyming quality, “Jeff” and “Pfeff”, if you were a big guy like Tesreau and these brothers, in the wake of the great Jim Jeffries, heavyweight champion of the world, were you called “Jeff” because of your appearance?
4) Another interesting point about Jeff Tesreau is that he played for and managed a semipro team called the Tesreau Bears, who would play against black teams, this is before Jacke Robinson — scholars of that era track this. As in, Major League salaries were not that far above other jobs, players worked in the offseason and in the 1920s apparently the semipro leagues would compete for talent with the Majors. And some say this caused MLB teams to start paying better.

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About markweiss86

Mark Weiss, founder of Plastic Alto blog, is a concert promoter and artist manager in Palo Alto, as Earthwise Productions, with background as journalist, advertising copywriter, book store returns desk, college radio producer, city council and commissions candidate, high school basketball player; he also sang in local choir, and fronts an Allen Ginsberg tribute Beat Hotel Rm 32
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