Thursday, October 23, 2014

Hall of Fame Spotlight - Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn

Historically, his last name has been spelled two ways, Radbourn and Radbourne.  I have seen Radbourn used more and will use that spelling of it here.  If you are active on the Twitter, you may know that the long-deceased Old Hoss Radbourn is very active on the account @OldHossRadbourn.  Many humorous posts using the language mechanics of the late 19-th century makes his account a fun one to follow, especially when he rants on the merits (or lack thereof) of today's players.

Radbourn (b. 1854 - d. 1897) was the son of a butcher who played in the majors from 1881 to 1891 (11 seasons) for the Providence Grays, Boston Beaneaters, Boston Reds and Cincinnati Reds.  His career record was 309-194 with 1,830 strikeouts and an ERA of 2.68.  Radbourn won an astounding 59 games in 1884 for the Grays in a time when a team's pitching rotation consisted of only two pitchers, with some players needed from time to time for spot starts.

That season, Radbourn would start 73 games (and come in relief in two others, notching 2 saves) and complete all of them.  That season, he would boast a record of 59-12 with a 1.38 ERA and would lead the Grays to a championship.

It was a different game back then as the pitcher was expected to pitch the entire game.  Throwing overhand was not allowed and there was no pitcher's mound.  The pitcher would throw the ball from the pitcher's "box" and oftentimes would be able to get a running start before throwing a sort of sidearm delivery.  Radbourn was widely considered the greatest pitcher of his day, but as one may be able to tell, the huge work load on his arm allowed for him to have only a brief career.

Radbourn was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939 by the "Old Timers Committee".  His 309 wins rank 19th all-time.  His career WAR (if anyone cares about that crap) is 76.0 and ranks 72nd all-time.  His 448 career complete games rank 8th all-time, even though he only played 11 seasons.  Radbourn also captured the pitching Triple Crown in 1884 with his 59 wins, 1.38 ERA and 441 strike outs.

Radbourn is one of the several players that I know I will not own an autograph of, since he passed away in 1897, and it is highly unlikely any baseballs signed by him exist.
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