The last New England nine

... time to look at the past and hope for this year

from Shirley Rabb

(Author's note:) The information below is from the book written by Will Anderson. Mr. Anderson died last year and I have the enthusiastic permission from his widow to use this article in the Mirror.

They had heart ...

The pair of pitchers featured in The LOST NEW ENGLAND NINE were troupers of the first order. Both hurled for the Red Sox when the Sox were horrendous.

In 1906, the year Joe Harris went an unbelievable 2-21, the Sox (actually then called the Pilgrims) were dead last in the American League with a 49-105 record.

Joe, in fact, was in select company; teammate Cy Young - THE Cy Young - also lost 21 games that fruitless year. Curt Fullerton, too, pitched when the Hub Hose were abysmal. When he went 2-15 in his worst season, 1923, the Sox were again dead last, with a mark of 61-91. To pitch for the Red Sox in those days you had to have heart…because you sure weren’t going to have runs.

Joseph White “Joe” Harris pictured here in a circa 1906 photo, was born in Melrose, Massachusetts on February 1,1882 and died in Melrose, Massachusetts on April 12,1966. Pitched three seasons for the Pilgrims/Red Sox, 1905-1907, running up a super-awful 2-21 record, 1906, for a team that was dreadful both offensively and defensively.

Highlight was probably a 24-inning duel with Colby Jack Coombs and the Athletics on September 1, 1906. Both moundsmen went the distance before the A’s took the contest, not surprisingly, by pushing across three runs in the 24th. Lifetime is 3-30 in spite of a respectable 3.35 ERA. This game was listed among the 100 greatest games in baseball in the 20th.century.

Joe was interviewed once and he said "I learned to play baseball in Melrose, where my parents reside, and while pitching for school teams and semi-professional clubs I attracted the attention of the New England magnates and joined the Fall River club. After a year or two I joined the Boston Americans. I have never done much of anything except play ball. As for advising young men about entering the profession, I feel that I am not as well qualified to speak as many other would be. I have been accused of not taking baseball seriously, but I am always doing my best, and when I work I always work hard to win. I do not know what I shall do when I quit playing ball"

The second pitcher was Curtis Hooper Fullerton from Ellsworth, Maine, but that is another story. There are stories about pitchers, catchers and all over the field players.

If you like baseball this is a great book about The best of New England’s forgotten ballplayers.

June 3, 2016

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