1884 Providence (vs. Cleveland) National League Scorecard with "Old Hoss" Radbourn on the Cover

Sold For: $3,231

Auction Year: 2010 spring

Lot: 57

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Extremely rare 1884 Providence fold-over scorecard featuring an illustration of Hall of Fame pitcher Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn on the cover. Interestingly, Radbourn's printed name below his image is misspelled "Radburn" by the publisher (The Strobridge Lith Co., of Cincinnati, Ohio). This is the only 1884 Providence scorecard featuring Radbourn on the cover that we have ever seen and it may represent the only surviving example! This 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 Majo -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 Cincinnati on September 10th, records one of Radbourn's 59 wins that season. The preprinted lineups include Radbourn, Hines, Start, and Carroll for Providence, and Phillips, Hotaling, Pinkney, and Muldoon for Cincinnati. Neatly scored in pencil to record a 5-3 Providence victory. Research indicates that the only 5-3 Providence home win against Cincinnati that season occurred on September 10th. Both the date and year of the game ("Sept 10th 1884") are scripted in pencil on the front cover just above Radbourn's image. The scorecard (3.75 x 6 inches) displays a slight separation along the spine, a small edge tear to the bottom border of the cover, a tiny corner chip in the lower right, and minor surface paper loss on the reverse from having been removed from an album. Overall in Very Good condition. This is an incredible Radbourn item: It is incredibly rare, naturally ideal for display, of great note for featuring a portrait of Radbourn, and for dating from his most historic season. This is an outstanding program! Reserve $400. Estimate $800+. SOLD FOR $3,231

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