- File Size: 2281 KB
- Print Length: 403 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0061825875
- Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (March 13, 2010)
- Publication Date: March 30, 2010
- Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
- Language: English
- ASIN: B003C2SP3M
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #634,452 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Fifty-nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had Kindle Edition
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|Length: 403 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an alternate kindle_edition edition.
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Achorn also provides the context of life in Providence during that era - when Providence was part of the major leagues and life in that city at that time.
All in all, a great read.
This is the tale of Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn(e), who pitched the Providence Grays to the National League pennant in 1884. That he did that wasn't just the story, however. It's of how he took the Grays upon his back and carried them to the championship by winning 59 games (or 60, pending on sources) during the regular season. Despite pain and without the courtesy of modern training regimens, Old Hoss did something likely never to be duplicated in the game of baseball. (Or, base ball, as it was known back then).
Edward Achorn takes us through a bit of Radbourn's career, but specifically the 1884 season. His writing style is interesting, especially as he shows a bit of the 1884 "sportswriter" way of doing things. His research is deep and it shows that some things will never be uncovered as at times he has to presume or assume certain things, but makes sure to point out things like that. It was, after all, 1884 and I'm quite sure certain things were not recorded as they are today.
Achorn takes us through Radbourn's battled with fellow star pitcher Charlie Sweeney and manager Frank Bancroft. He gives us glimpses of some of Radbourn's colorful teammates, such as catcher Barney Gilligan and first baseman Joe Start. In fact, Achorn gives us a solid glance for most of the 1884 Grays, showing some interesting folks along the way. He also does a good job in showing some great battles Radbourn and the Grays had with heated rivals the Boston Beaneaters and Chicago White Stockings (who would, eventually, become the Cubs).
Old Hoss Radbourn was quite a character. Quiet and trying to stay out of the limelight, he was something else and he's portrayed well in this book. The reader really gets a chance to dig into this person and get to know him as well as possible, considering he died before the turn of the century into the 1900s.
If you love baseball history, this book is probably something you could delve into. It's filled with interesting things from the game's early years.
Now for my thoughts...
I had been looking forward to reading this book for a while. I finally ponied up and got it for my Kindle (though I think a hard copy might be better, considering some of the items Achorn has picked out to have as images. Some of the things were hard to read on the Kindle, such as scorecards and such, but that's not Achorn's fault by any means).
The research in this book is quite good. It really paints a good picture not only of what baseball was like in 1884, but what life was like in those times. Things weren't easy. Baseball wasn't easy. With no gloves, it was quite tough to play the game. Especially being as the National League, at that point, had switched to the new pitching rule to allow overhand delivery. Catchers took a beating. Players took a beating.
This book shows all of that.
The descriptions of the players, rivals and game was excellent. I could easily picture the stadiums, the players, the uniforms, the pitches and outs by the way it was written. It took me back to 1884, which is something I would want in a book like this.
The best part of this book is the history, without a doubt. The game as it is today is nothing compared to 1884. It really shows one what the game has done over time to blossom and grow. If I could hop into a time machine and morph back to 1884 to watch a game between Boston and Providence at Messer Street Grounds, I feel I would be aptly prepared because of this book. I would gladly pay 50 cents to watch that game.
The book tends to get jumpy at times. With quite long chapters, Achorn bounces around a bit in each one. He'll start on something, which will then lead to a side story or two. Then, he'll pop back to the original story. At times, it got confusing and frustrating to read this style. It might have been good to have some sub-titles and such inside the chapters, just to break it up a little. I liked the side stories, don't get me wrong, I just didn't like that it seemed at times that they just showed up etc.
And this might be the journalist/English teacher in me, but sometimes the writer would use a quote and say something like "Bancroft recalled..." I understand that the quote came from the research and from a newspaper or something along those lines, but I would have liked to have seen a little more attribution with it. To be fair, the back of the book has so much attribution, it's not funny. Still, it's something that was pounded in my head during college and during my years of working at a newspaper, so sometimes I cringe when I see things like that!
Again, I would highly encourage baseball history fans to read this book. It's an excellent read. However, it's not what I would call a "page turner." It's not one of those books that I couldn't wait to get back to or would sit reading for several hours each night. With the long chapters, I often found myself reading one chapter in a night and calling it good. There were a few times I would go a couple of days without reading. But I was always interested in the next chapter and in watching how the season unfolded. I never wanted to stop reading the book, which is a good thing, and I did really enjoy it. It's a slower-paced book that really gave a history lesson. For that, I was happy.
Originally, I wanted to give this something in the 3.5 range, but after thinking about it, I think it's a solid 4 stars. It's a strong read. Though the style, at times, is maddening, overall it's a very good book and worth reading. Especially if you are a baseball or baseball history fan.
On a side note, you can see Old Hoss in modern times on Twitter (@OldHossRadbourn).
The story disappoints when the author speculates about Carrie Stanhope, presumably a prostitute, who ran a boarding house and later became Radbourne's wife. Set against the facts mentioned above, the speculation just doesn't work -- it takes the story out of the real and into the fictional, and the reader is left wondering what the attraction of speculation is, set against the fascinating facts.
The Radbourne story itself, as told here, is a must-read. Highly recommended to all.
Top international reviews
Radbourn (or Radbourne) was a complex person. He knew how to sell himself, but incredibly, had an opportunity to free himself from the hated and slave-like reserve clause and choose to remain with the Provindence Grays.
Wait for a beautiful day, find yourself a nice tree, sit down under it and enjoy the book.