Old Hoss

What do you really know about Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn other than his famous twitter account?

His 1884 season almost defies belief.  The Providence Grays right-hander displayed the greatest resolve and courage to compete in the history of baseball.

59-12 / 1.38 ERA / 678.67 IP / 0.92 WHIP / 73GS / 73CG / 11SHO / 441K / 98 BB

I just finished reading a biography entitled Fifty-Nine in ’84 by Edward Achorn, depicting the legendary 1884 season of Old Hoss and the Providence Grays.  It is a fascinating account portraying the most ferociously sustained season of pitching dominance in baseball history.

Nineteenth century baseball was a much different game played under dangerous conditions.  Most notably, barehanded baseball caused broken fingertips, bloodied hands, and unpredictable outcomes to individual plays.  This was part of the difficult environment to compete for baseball supremacy in this era.

Most teams carried only two pitchers on the roster, often leading to short careers and Herculean innings pitched totals.  Starting pitchers were expected to complete games and throw almost everyday.  However, Old Hoss displayed pitching stamina and pure grit to compete daily at a historic level.

“The punishing repetition pitch after pitch after pitch, day after day, without significant rest had surely started to wear down his rotator cuff.  Even after the pain had set in, searing his shoulder, jarring him awake several times a night, he had continued to pitch.”

Imagine starting almost every game from the July 31st trade deadline to the playoffs…. Old Hoss Radbourn not only performed this unbelievable pitching exhibition but also carried the Providence Grays to the National League pennant single-handedly.  During this stretch, the incomparable Radbourn compiled a 32-4 record with 36 CG leading the maligned franchise to an unexpected league title.

Following the regular season, the Grays faced off against the New York Metropolitans of the American Association in the first “World Series” ever played.   In the series, Radbourn continued his amazing campaign, winning all three games and allowing zero earned runs in 22 innings.

In the coming weeks, let’s see what the Factor12 Rating calculates for the 1884 season.

Old Hoss, you are truly legendary.

About Josh Robbins
Josh is a freelance videographer/journalist and baseball historian in Gilbert, Arizona. In 2010, he earned a Master’s Degree in Sport Management from CSU-Long Beach. From June 16 to July 11, 2008, he watched a game in all 30 MLB stadiums in a world record 26 days by car. You can email Josh at robbinsjosh AT hotmail DOT com or visit his website at Thirty26.com.

7 Comments on Old Hoss

  1. just curious, does the book mention his size? wondering if he was like 5’4″, 90 lbs?

  2. POPS robbins // May 16, 2012 at 1:30 pm // Reply


  3. baseball reference lists him at

    Height: 5′ 9″, Weight: 168 lb.

  4. Josh Robbins // May 16, 2012 at 2:14 pm // Reply

    He was not a big pitcher in stature but had tremendous courage and will to dominate. 5-9-5-10 not more than 170lbs

  5. And you forgot the most important thing…. Old Hoss invented “flipping off the camera”. Just look at both pictures, he’s flipping the bird.

  6. he’s flippin the bird on the cover!
    Classic, i hope there are no photos of him NOT flipping us off!

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