In 1884, Providence Gray’s pitcher Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn won 59 games. He won three in that years World Series, marking him a champion and solidifying the greatest pitching record in baseball history. Fifty-Nine in ’84 tells Radbourn’s tale and also captures the spirit of baseball in the 19th-century. It was rough and tough. The players drank hard, they thought nothing of cheating, and apparently didn’t much mind maiming an opponent either. Not dissimilar, probably, to proper football of the period. (By proper I am, of course, referring to soccer). There’s also a subtext of some boarding house action – the love of Radbourn’s life was said to have been quite friendly with every man in the National League.
The author of Fifty-Nine in ’84 is Edward Achorn, a former Pulitzer Prize finalist.
All in all, the book has the makings of a fantastic read. It releases tomorrow.