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1884 Providence (vs. Buffalo) National League Scorecard with "Old Hoss" Radbourn on the Cover
Starting Bid - $500, Sold For - $1,998
Extremely rare 1884 Providence fold-over scorecard featuring an illustration of Hall of Fame pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn on the cover. Providence player portraits. Interestingly, Radbourn's printed name below his image is misspelled "Radburn" by the publisher (The Strobridge Lith Co., of Cincinnati, Ohio). This is only the second 1884 Providence scorecard featuring Radbourn on the cover that we have ever seen. The year of this program is of all the greater note in that Radbourn enjoyed the greatest season of his career in 1884 as he won a Major League record 59 games, against only 12 losses, in leading the Providence Grays to the National League pennant. He then went on to win all three games against the American Association champion New York Metropolitans in the first-ever World Series that fall. (The inaugural World Series was only a three-game series.) Radbourn, in addition to being one of the greatest pitchers of his era, was, according to the Providence Journal-Bulletin , "erratic, capricious, and ill-tempered." Although he won a league-high 48 games in 1883, no one could have predicted his prodigious accomplishment the following year, especially after he was suspended by the club at midseason for reported "improper conduct." (One report said that following a dropped third strike by his catcher, Radbourn cursed him and fired a baseball at his forehead so hard that it knocked him out.) It was only a stroke of fate that brought him back to the fold. Right after his suspension, the team's only other pitcher, Bill Sweeney, jumped the club, leaving Providence in an uncomfortable bind. Radbourn, realizing the team had no choice but to reinstate him, not only negotiated a bonus for his return, but was also granted the right to become a free agent at season's end. In return, he agreed to pitch every remaining game, which he nearly did (the team gave him a few breaks by pitching position players in some games). This particular program, issued for a game against Buffalo, is not scored but was probably a good one, as it featured a pitching match up between two of the greatest pitchers of the era, Rabourn and Pud Galvin. The preprinted lineups include Radbourn, Hines, Start, Bassett, and Carroll for Providence, and O'Rourke, Brouthers, Richardson, and Galvin for Buffalo. The scorecard (3.75 x 6 inches) displays a very slight separation along both the top and bottom of the spine; it is otherwise in Excellent condition overall. The only other 1884 Providence program featuring Radbourn on the cover that we have seen (scored, but in lesser condition) appeared as Lot 57 in Robert Edward Auctions' May 2010 auction, where it realized a final sale price of $3,231. This is an incredible Radbourn item: It is incredibly rare, naturally ideal for display, of great note for featuring a portrait of Radbourn, and dating from his most historic season. Reserve $500. Estimate $1,000/$2,000+. SOLD FOR $1,998
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