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Yankees History: How to win a game by hitting just two singles

Despite collectively going 2-for-30 in a game against Boston, the 1904 Highlanders managed to win...with some help.

1904 New York Highlanders

Every team occasionally wins some games where they get help from the opposition. Sometimes, it’s from an anemic display from the opposing offense. Sometimes, it’ll happen because the other team makes a bunch of errors.

On September 14, 1904, the Yankees, then known as the Highlanders, got a bit of both, in a very nice gift from the Boston Red Sox, then known as the Americans.

Coming into September 14th, the Highlanders trailed Boston by just 0.5 games in the AL standings, having spent much of the previous couple weeks trading the lead back and forth. New York had trailed by 5.5 games back on July 13th, but a 36-20 stretch brought them back into the race.

The two teams battling at the top of the AL then met on September 14th in Boston for a doubleheader, the first of three consecutive they would play against each other. Leading off in the opener for the Highlanders was Patsy Dougherty, who singled to start the game. Errors by Boston’s Lou Criger and Jimmy Collins led to Dougherty scoring, and the Highlanders tacking on another run to take an early lead.

In the third, a similar situation played out. Willie Keeler reached base after he bunted safely for a single. Two batters later after a sacrifice bunt, Boston shortstop Freddy Parent made a meal of a ball hit by John Anderson, allowing Keeler to score to make it 3-0.

Meanwhile, New York pitcher Jack Chesbro ended up holding Boston mostly in check. He would go on to throw a complete game, with the Americans finally getting on the board with a run in the ninth inning. Chesbro allowed six hits and a walk, but did enough to get him and a team a victory.

The three runs scored in the early innings would be the extent of the Highlanders’ offense for the game. It wouldn’t be the end of the errors, though, as Boston ended up making seven for the day. In addition to the one already mentioned, Parent made two more, while second baseman Hobe Ferris added two more himself. Boston’s lone run came in part thanks to an error by Dougherty, one of three the Highlanders added to the day’s sloppy play.

Now, you may be wondering how the Highlanders could only score three runs despite all those errors. That’s because their offense had a very bad day besides them. The two hits described earlier, both of which were singles, were the only two they recorded. They also drew no walks over the course of the nine innings. Collectively, the lineup went 2-for-30 and combined to OPS .133 in the game. That OPS is the worst in a game by any Yankees/Highlanders team that went on to win that game. The only recent game remotely close is a 2016 win over the Rays, where a two-run Starlin Castro home run was the only hit they had all game. Their OPS as a team that day was .212.

The win took the Highlanders into first in the AL, which they retained after the second game had to be called for darkness after just five innings. However, they would end the six-game stretch of doubleheaders back where they would start it. Boston won two of the remaining four games, the Highlanders won one, and another one had to be called early. While a win streak that started right after the Boston series ended put the Highlanders up two games, they eventually fell short in the AL race in very frustrating circumstances.

It takes some help to record just two hits, neither of which went for extra bases, and still win a game. On September 14, 1904, the Red Sox gave the Yankees that help.


New York Times, September 15, 1904

Baseball Reference Stathead