Jason Walker's Reviews > Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had

Fifty-Nine in '84 by Edward Achorn
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's review
Sep 28, 2011

really liked it
Read in August, 2011

While on the outside this appears to be a baseball book it really isn't. This is a 19th century Americana chronicle with sections devoted to temperance, tobacco, prostitution, politics, travel, the meat industry and life in general. Everything is framed around the pitcher Old Hoss Radbourn, his team, rivalries, the woman he loved and the team he threw for, the Providence Grays. He won 59 games in a single baseball season, something that will never be bettered. It's rare to have a 20 game winner now. But if that is the core the book really comes alive as the author brings in so many other aspects of life. As he read the microfilm for the sports section he must have also kept notes on the front pages and found the names of the other players in the book which include politicians, singers, tobacconists, parlour house owners, gamblers, owners, industrialists and all the filth that comes with being human and fallible. If you want some nostalgia and a good book, this one is fun and serious at the same time. The personalities jump off the page and seem like you have known them forever.
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