Dubbed Old Hoss for his dependability and endurance, Radbourne was a marvel even in an era when teams commonly used only two starting pitchers. Already an outstanding pitcher in 1882 when he led the NL in strikeouts and shutouts, in 1883-84 Radbourne won more games for Providence than four entire NL teams. He made 68 starts in 1883, winning a league-high 49 games, including a no-hitter over Cleveland July 25. The next season, Radbourne completed all 73 of his starts, with 60 wins, 441 strikeouts, and a 1.38 ERA in 678.2 innings. He also won 18 consecutive games that year and pitched 11 shutouts. After the season, Providence met New York, champions of the American Association, in a forerunner to the modern World Series. With Radbourne pitching every inning, the Grays swept three games in New York and the series was defaulted before ever reaching Providence.
Radbourne joined Boston in 1886, but was not nearly as dominating as he had been in Providence, often losing as many as he won. In 1890 he led the Players' League in winning percentage for the Boston league champions, but in mid-1891 he dropped out of baseball. Radbourne, who had continued to pitch submarine-style even after the overhand delivery was legalized, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1939. (JK)
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FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY
»February 7, 1881: Providence rounds out its roster by signing Charles Radbourn, who missed most of last season with a bad arm.