Radbourn had a good career for a pitcher, finishing with a 309-194 mark, playing for the Bisons, Grays, Beaneaters, Red Stockings, and Reds.
Old Hoss had a pretty good season in 1883, going 48-25, with a 2.05 ERA, but then in 1884 he outdid himself, going 59-12, with a 1.38 ERA. He also got 441 strikeouts that season. There’s some disagreement over how many wins he got that season, with some sources saying 60, and Radbourn’s tombstone reporting 62. In any case, the Grays went 84-28 that season, finishing first in the National League.
It seems that the reason he got so many wins that season is that the team’s other pitcher, a man named Sweeny, who was also an excellent pitcher, walked off about mid-season. He was reportedly intoxicated in one game, and drinking in the dugout between innings, and when the manager tried to make a switch, Sweeny stormed off, never to return. The Grays had to finish the game with only eight players, and lost the game. There was some talk of the Grays ending the season then, disbanding, as they had no one to replace Sweeny, but Radbourn said he would pitch every game for the rest of the season (for a small raise in pay.) And so he did, plus three in the championship against the New York Metropolitans. (Perhaps that’s where the win discrepancy comes in?)
Old Hoss opened up a Billiard parlor in Bloomington Illinois when his playing days were over, and passed away in 1897.
Happy Birthday, Old Hoss. Good game.