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Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn Biography

Updated on January 14, 2016
Charles Radbourn lead the Providence Grays to an 1884 World Series
Charles Radbourn lead the Providence Grays to an 1884 World Series | Source

The "Old Hoss" of Baseball

Charles Gardner Radbourn

One of the Earliest known Professional Baseball Players
He was the Second National League (NL) PITCHER TO WIN A TRIPLE CROWN

Born December 11, 1854 - Died February 5, 1897

Known for being extremely vain & arrogant, but an excellent baseball player nonetheless

Born in Rochester, New York, but raised in Bloomington, Illinois, Radbourn worked with his father as a butcher.
He was very athletic and was pretty good at everything he played. If he didn't know how to play, it would be a matter of time before he'd become a worthy opponent.
If there was one thing you could say about Charles Radbourn, it be that the man had heart - and lots of it. One year, Radbourn played in only six games, batted a .149 and never pitched. However, he practiced so hard that he developed a sore shoulder and was released from the ball club.

Early Life & Baseball Career

Radbourn was the second of eight children. His parents, Charles and Corine Radbourn, immigrated here from Bristol in South West England.

In 1878, Radbourn joined the Peoria Reds, a traveling baseball team as their right fielder and "change pitcher".

BACK THEN: Baseball teams had nine players, that's it. There were no relief pitchers. If a pitcher got tired, he changed positions with another player, usually the right fielder.

In 1879, Radbourn signed with Dubuque which was now included in the newly formed Northwest League.

In 1881, Radbourn made it to the major league's for the Buffalo Bisons as their second baseman, right fielder and "change pitcher", but then was released for a shoulder injury. He quickly recovered, and played for a pick-up Bloomington team. During an exhibition game against the Providence Grays, Radbourn impressed everybody to the point where the Providence Grays actually came up to him after the game and signed him on the spot and offered a salary that was guessed to be between $1100 and $1500.
That was WAY BIG money back then.

While playing with the Boston Beaneaters, Radbourn was upset with how things were running and showed how he felt by flipping the camera the bird in an 1886 opening day team photo - for real.

Charles Radbourn's Baseball Stats

309-194 Career Record
Record for Most WINS in a season (unlikely to EVER be beaten)
Record for SECOND MOST innings pitched in a season
(unlikely to EVER be beaten)
1884 - Won the National League's pitching Triple Crown with a 1.38 earned run average, 62 wins and 441 strikeouts



Baseball is AMERICA'S Sport

Baseball at Optimist Park in Hammond, IN
Baseball at Optimist Park in Hammond, IN | Source

After Baseball

Radbourn opened a saloon & billiards parlor in Bloomington, Illinois soon after retirement from baseball. He was injured from a hunting accident and lost an eye. Being a very vain person, Radbourn was ashamed of his disfigured face and lock himself in a back room at his saloon and drank away his sorrows.

By 1896, he was suffering with "full blown" syphilis and died on February 5, 1897.

America's Sport

Do you consider baseball America's sport?

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    • lions44 profile image

      CJ Kelly 

      2 years ago from Auburn, WA

      Great story. Shared.

      I put no for the poll. I don't believe baseball is America's pastime, anymore. Sadly, LL baseball involvement is decline rapidly and much of the fault lies w/MLB chasing a quick buck with scheduling, trademark harassment and other greedy endeavors.


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