Lahman: Rochester native Old Hoss Radbourn was ‘king of pitchers’

From SABR member Sean Lahman at the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle on April 29, 2015:

Known as the “King of Pitchers” during his era, Charles Radbourn is one of two Rochester natives enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame (umpire Bill Klem is the other).

His nickname was “Old Hoss,” a reference to his workhorse role and not his size. Just 5-foot-9 and 168 pounds, Radbourn had an easy underhand motion from which he threw a variety of pitches.

Born in Rochester in 1854, Radbourn’s family moved to Bloomington, Illinois, when he was a child. He pitched for a series of Midwest barnstorming teams before reaching the majors with the National League’s Buffalo Bisons in 1880. But it was with the Providence Grays where Radbourn really became a big star.

He won 25 games in 1881, 33 a year later, and set a new single-season record in 1883 winning 48 games — including a no-hitter.

But it was his remarkable 1884 season that solidified his status as one of the all-time greats. When Providence’s other starting pitcher, Charlie Sweeney, abandoned the team, Radbourn offered to pick up the slack. “I’ll pitch every day and win the pennant for Providence,” he told the local paper, “even if it costs me my right arm.”

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Originally published: April 30, 2015. Last Updated: April 30, 2015.