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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had » User review

Fascinating Look at 19th Century Professional Baseball

  • Mar 14, 2010
Rating:
+4

I am fascinated by professional sports in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.   While the players may not have been as big, fast, or strong and modern athletes, they seem a thousand times more rugged and tough. 

This book focuses on a pitcher who played in the barehanded  era who holds the professional baseball record for most wins in a season at an unbelievable 59.  Charles Radbourn, or “Old Hoss,” played from 1880 to 1991, mostly with the Providence Grays.  In 1884, pitching nearly every day, which is something I can not even fathom, he compiled his 59 wins.  This book is mostly about the life and playing days of this taciturn hero, mostly forgotten by all but the most studied baseball historians.

But the book is more than a biography.  It also provides a glimpse into what baseball was like in an era where pitchers pitched frequently, you caught the ball with your bare hands, and violence and dirty tactics on the field of play were the norm not an aberration.  To sit back and think what a rugged, brutal, physically demanding, and even debilitating game  baseball was in the late 1800’s is simply mindboggling.

This book is an excellent addition to baseball history.  While the author does provide a bit more day to day detail than was probably needed, it is a fascinating read and one those who love baseball history should enjoy.

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March 14, 2010
Loved this book! Because I grew up about a mile away from where many of these events took place (Messer Street Grounds) I really enjoyed all the detail. Glad you enjoyed it as well!
March 14, 2010
Thanks for your comment on this and my other review. Been so busy lately I can't get online too much!
 
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More Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Ra... reviews
review by . April 10, 2010
While Springsteen's can't-let-go friend "could throw that speedball by you, make you look like a fool boy", 19th-century Major League baseball's best pitcher set his amazing record with a mixture of speed, guile, and strategy. That record--winning 59 games in 1884--is so far beyond today's numbers that fans today can barely relate.    But baseball, as Edward Achorn does a good job documenting for us, was a different game, starting with the barely--bare-handed fielders, mound-less …
review by . February 24, 2010
Recalling the best season a pitcher ever had....or ever will!!
Being a avid baseball fan I jumped at the chance to read Edward Achorn's new book "Fifty Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball and the Greatest Season A Pitcher Ever Had".  For one thing Edward Achorn is the deputy editorial page editor for my hometown newspaper The Providence Journal.  As such I have some familiarity with his work. But of even more interest to me was the fact that a good many of the events depicted in "Fifty Nine in '84" took …
review by . February 25, 2010
Fifty Nine in 84 takes you back to before the "modern" era of baseball, where teams consisted of maybe 13 players. Players didn't use gloves and hard drinking, hard fighting and short careers were the norm in baseball.    Edward Achorn brings to life the era that even the most ardent fans know little about, painting a picture of the rough and unforgiving world of the 19th century where crippling injury, disease and sudden death were norms to be dealt with rather than unexpected …
review by . February 10, 2010
These days, when overpaid pitchers are pampered like prima donnas, only pitching with several days rest, and hardly ever pitching a complete game, this book is a welcome look into a time in baseball when pitchers were real "workhorses".    Most teams only carried two pitchers on their rosters, and these two were supposed to alternate in pitching games. Of course, when one was injured, or couldn't pitch for one reason or another, all of the pitching duties fell on the other fellow, …
review by . February 01, 2010
Some people tend to discount the baseball records that were set before the twentieth century, finding one excuse or another to diminish the achievements of the men on the field. While it is true that some of the rules were different, especially concerning the actions of the pitcher, the game still required the same skills to succeed. For decades, two of the records that were considered unattainable were Ty Cobb's record for total hits and Lou Gehrig's string of consecutive games. Both of these records …
About this book

Wiki

In his first book, Achorn, an editor at theProvidence 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.)
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Tags

Books, Baseball, Sports Books, Baseball Books, Baseball History, Sports Biographies, Baseball Player Biographies, Charles Radbourn, Edward Achorn

Details

ISBN-10: 0061825867
ISBN-13: 978-0061825866
Author: Edward Achorn
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, Sports
Publisher: Smithsonian
Date Published: March 16, 2010
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