Fifty-nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had by Edward Achorn | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
Fifty-nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had
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Fifty-nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had

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by Edward Achorn
     
 

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In 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn won an astounding fifty-nine games—more than anyone in major-league history ever had before, or has since. He then went on to win all three games of baseball's first World Series.

Fifty-nine in '84 tells the dramatic story not only of that amazing feat of grit but also of big-league

Overview

In 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn won an astounding fifty-nine games—more than anyone in major-league history ever had before, or has since. He then went on to win all three games of baseball's first World Series.

Fifty-nine in '84 tells the dramatic story not only of that amazing feat of grit but also of big-league baseball two decades after the Civil War—a brutal, bloody sport played barehanded, the profession of uneducated, hard-drinking men who thought little of cheating outrageously or maiming an opponent to win. Wonderfully entertaining, Fifty-nine in '84 is an indelible portrait of a legendary player and a fascinating, little-known era of the national pastime.

Editorial Reviews

Cait Murphy
Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Pure Grit is the best book out there on 19th-century baseball. Old Hoss Radbourn would be pleased that he is finally getting his due—and angry that it took so long.
Joseph J. Ellis
“This is a beautifully written, meticulously researched story about a bygone baseball era that even die-hard fans will find foreign, and about a pitcher who might have been the greatest of all time.”
Sean Callahan
…an astonishing book about 19th-century baseball…Fifty-nine in '84 is a romantic book, equal parts heroic quest, tragic tale and doomed love story.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In his first book, Achorn, an editor at the New Providence Journal, takes an in-depth look into the game of baseball when it was still in its infancy, especially the hard-nosed players rarely seen in today's incarnation of the national pastime, including one of the greatest pitchers that most of today's fans know nothing about. In the 1884 season, pitching for Providence, R.I., Radbourn—the son of English immigrants—endured one of the most grueling summers imaginable in willing his team to the pennant. The stress on his right arm, which caused such deterioration that he couldn't comb his own hair, also gave him a baseball record of 59 wins that will never be broken, in a year of “unparalleled brilliance.” Achorn wonderfully captures this era of the sport—when pitchers threw balls at batters' heads, and catchers, playing barehanded, endured such abuse that some would need fingers amputated. It's no wonder that, in some circles, as Achorn writes, baseball was thought to be “one degree above grand larceny, arson, and mayhem, and those who engaged in it were beneath the notice of decent society.” From the early stars of the game to archaic rules that seem silly by today's standards, there's plenty to devour (and learn) for even the biggest of baseball savants. (Mar.)
Library Journal
A team winning streak of 20 games is always notable, but what if one pitcher accounted for 18 of the wins? What if he pitched 73 complete games in one season, on his way to 59 wins? We would hail this pitcher as the greatest ever, and Achorn (deputy editorial pages editor, Providence Journal) makes a convincing case that Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn should be so honored for his 1884 season with the National League's Providence Grays. This is not just a recitation of bare-handed baseball and old-time brawling, but a story that, with its larger-than-life protagonist, numerous exploits, and a love interest, reads like a novel. Hugely appealing for baseball die-hards.
Kirkus Reviews
A loving reanimation of the 1884 baseball season, during which Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn won 59 games and hurled his team into the first World Series. As Providence Journal deputy editorial page editor Achorn dutifully notes, 1880s baseball, flourishing before motion pictures and audio recordings, is a game both familiar and surpassingly alien. Preserved in sometimes skimpy, and always biased, newspaper accounts, the achievement of Radbourn, the Providence Grays' ace pitcher, is indeed astonishing. Well before the introduction of relief pitchers, the starters were expected to play the entire game and to pitch often, sometimes on consecutive days-and sometimes even both ends of a doubleheader, as Radbourn did on Memorial Day, winning both. He won the next day, too. Achorn digs into Radbourn's Illinois background and follows his ancestors back to England. Little Charles learned to love hunting, purebred dogs, baseball and later on, Carrie Stanhope, the legendary woman who ran a Providence boarding house and eventually married Radbourn. The author charts Radbourn's swift rise in an era when pitchers flamed out quickly because of arm injuries; Radbourn and his colleagues lived with continuous pain. Achorn pauses occasionally to portray the pitcher's rivals and teammates and to identify the differences in yesteryear's game. The fielders used only their bare hands-even catchers had but minimal protection; foul balls were not strikes; a single umpire, often corrupt, called each game. The author also supplies needed cultural history-e.g., the train ride from the East Coast to Chicago took three days; Buffalo Bill arrived in Providence that same season. An unabashed fan, Achorn occasionallydrifts into excess and cliche (catchers needed "dauntless courage"; the Chicago team "ate weaker clubs for breakfast"), but he capably delivers an entertaining story. A thoroughly researched panegyric to a man and an era. Agent: David Miller/The Garamond Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061825873
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
02/22/2011
Pages:
400
Sales rank:
485,793
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

Cait Murphy
Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Pure Grit is the best book out there on 19th-century baseball. Old Hoss Radbourn would be pleased that he is finally getting his due—and angry that it took so long.
Joseph J. Ellis
“This is a beautifully written, meticulously researched story about a bygone baseball era that even die-hard fans will find foreign, and about a pitcher who might have been the greatest of all time.”

Meet the Author

Edward Achorn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for distinguished commentary, is the deputy editorial pages editor of the Providence Journal.

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