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In 1884, Providence Grays pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn won an astounding fifty-nine gamesmore 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 Wara 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.
Edward Achorn, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for distinguished commentary, is the deputy editorial pages editor of the Providence Journal.
Beautifully written and impeccably researched, Pure Grit is the best book out there on 19th-century baseball. Old Hoss Radbourn would be pleased that he is finally getting his due—and angry that it took so long.
-Cait Murphy, author of CRAZY '08
“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 and devoted Red Sox fan