Charles Monroe “Jeff” Tesreau
Born: March 5, 1888 - Ironton, MO
Died: September 24, 1946 - Hanover, NH
MLB Pitching Record: 115–72
New York Giants NL (March 5, 1888 - October 24, 1946)
Known for his exceptional spitball, Jeff Tesreau wowed National League fans for seven seasons. Over that time he played on three NL Pennant winners, won at least 20 games on two occasions, and led the league in shutouts and ERA. Sports scribes nicknamed him “Jeff” because he resembled heavyweight boxer Jim Jeffries and “The Ozark Bear” because Tesreau once made a comment about bear hunting.
After developing his spitball in the Texas League and the Eastern League, Tesreau made a splash as a rookie with the New York Giants in 1912, compiling a 17–7 record with a 1.96 earned-run average, On September 6, 1912, he pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies, helping to lead the Giants to the pennant. In the World Series matchup against the Boston Red Sox, Tesreau appeared in three games, winning one. He went on to become the go-to guy for the Giants over the next five years. In 1914 he won an impressive 26 games while leading the league with eight shutouts. Tesreau proved to be very durable, piling up over 1,600 innings pitched over his stint with the Giants, but during the 1918 season he had a falling out with manager John McGraw. The fiery manager wanted Tesreau to report on player activities outside of the ballpark. He refused, a feud ensued, and he promptly quit the team never to pitch in the majors again.
Tesreau took a job as baseball coach for Darthmouth College for what he thought would be a brief period. He ended up coaching at the Ivy League school until 1946, compiling a 379–264 record and winning the Eastern League Championship in 1930, 1935, 1936, and 1938. As a matter of fact, his old nemesis from the 1912 Series, Boston pitcher Smokey Joe Wood, became the coach for Yale University, and it was a special event when the two Ivy teams went head to head. Jeff Tesreau passed away at age 57 following a stroke. Without the spitball who knows how his pro career would have progressed, but during a time when it was perfectly legal, it was his calling card and he used it to his advantage.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html