Synopses & Reviews
In 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn won an astounding fifty-nine games—more than anyone in major-league history ever had before, or has since. He then went on to win all three games of baseball's first World Series.
Fifty-nine in '84 tells the dramatic story not only of that amazing feat of grit but also of big-league baseball two decades after the Civil War—a brutal, bloody sport played barehanded, the profession of uneducated, hard-drinking men who thought little of cheating outrageously or maiming an opponent to win.
It is the tale, too, of the woman Radbourn loved, Carrie Stanhope, the alluring proprietress of a boarding-house with shady overtones, a married lady who was said to have personally known every man in the National League.
Wonderfully entertaining, Fifty-nine in '84 is an indelible portrait of a legendary player and a fascinating, little-known era of the national pastime.
"In his first book, Achorn, an editor at the New Providence 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Achorn chronicles the career of Charles Old Hoss Radbourn, who, in 1884, had the winningest single season of any major-league baseball pitcher. "Fifty-nine in 84" also tells the tale of baseball in the 1880s--a brutal, bloody sport played barehanded.
“All fans of baseball, all fans of a good story, will love this book."
— Professor Gordon Wood, Pulitzer and Bancroft Prize winner
“This is a beautifully written, meticulously researched story about a bygone baseball era that even die-hard fans will find foreign, and about a pitcher who might have been the greatest of all time.” — Joseph J. Ellis, Pulitzer prize-winning historian
Following in the tradition of the sleeper bestseller Crazy ‘08, Fifty-Nine in '84 is the story of Charles Radbourn, a brilliant major league baseball pitcher who, in the 1884 season, won an astonishing 59 games, a record that has never been broken. Set against the backdrop of 19th century baseball, Fifty-Nine in '84 gives readers a glimpse of the dangerous and violent game that preceded the sport we enjoy today.
About the Author
Edward Achorn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for distinguished commentary, is the deputy editorial pages editor of the Providence Journal.