In 1884, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn had the most extraordinary season of any major-league baseball pitcher in history (59-12). He won more games in a single season than anyone ever would, or ever will, and went on to win all three games of baseball’MoreIn 1884, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn had the most extraordinary season of any major-league baseball pitcher in history (59-12).
He won more games in a single season than anyone ever would, or ever will, and went on to win all three games of baseball’s first World’s Series. Angry at management and jealous of a younger pitcher, Radbourn faced a mid-season suspension and came close to being expelled from the Providence Grays (a shortlived National League team). But when his bitter rival left the team instead, Radbourn pledged to pitch the rest of the way virtually alone -- and win the National League pennant while doing so.
He embarked on two and a half grueling months of work, doing such great damage to his arm that he could not lift it to comb his hair in the morning. But he kept his word. This book tells not only his story but also the tale of major-league baseball in the 1880s -- a brutal, bloody sport played barehanded, the profession of ill-educated, hard-drinking men who think little of cheating outrageously or maiming an opponent to win. It is also the tale of the woman Radbourn loves, Carrie Stanhope, the married proprietress of a boarding house with shady overtones.
A woman who is said to personally know every man in the National League, she fights to provide for her young son, her teenage sister and her widowed mother. After he retires from baseball, Carrie joins Radbourn in his home town, where he introduces her as a widow and his wife, neither of which is true. In the end, at age 42, Radbourn succumbs to syphilis, the same dreaded disease that claims her first husband -- and perhaps Carrie herself. But his legendary work wins Radbourn baseball immortality, and a plaque in the Hall of Fame.