Jan 31

Exclusive: Interview with Old Hoss Radbourn

Hall of Fame pitcher Charles Gardner “Old Hoss” Radbourn began his earthly existence in 1854, made his major-league debut in 1880 and forsook his mortal coil in 1897. None of that, however, has prevented him from becoming one of the most lively presences on Twitter today.

Recently, the fogey-but-a-goodie kindly deigned to give Dodger Thoughts an exclusive interview, the contents of which follow herewith:

* * *

1) We have to start by asking what your reaction is to the ownership crisis in Los Angeles involving Frank McCourt?

I suppose there is some-thing to be learnt here about trusting one’s spouse with one’s property. My lass was given an ownership stake in a single place: the kitchen.

On a slightly more serious note, I suppose this is a useful lesson about carefully vetting one’s owners and making sure they are financially solvent. I am sure that no one in the upper echelons of base ball’s management will pay attention to this.

2) The Dodgers play in Los Angeles. What kind of appeal does this city hold for an oldtimer like yourself?

None, I am afraid. Base ball is meant to be played in nasty, inclement weather with angry, miserable louts for fans who take the sport too seriously and seek nothing more than to horse-whip you for making the slightest of mistakes. I believe this insane misanthropy has in recent years been mis-labeled as “passion.”

3) In 1884, you won 59 games for Providence (only 23 fewer than the Dodgers won in 2012). So my question is, if you were playing one-on-nine against the Dodgers, would you win?

As you know, J. Weisman, it is quite foolish to compare different base ball across the centuries. This is because my era was so much better. I would estimate, and I shall be conservative, that I would win a game by an approximate score of 17-4. I concede that one M. Kemp would account for at least three and likely four home runs, but otherwise I lose little sleep over the Dodgers’ line-up. Please note that my answer changes quite drastically based on the fellow named in question 7.

4) Who’s tougher — you or Tommy Lasorda?

I assume by linking “tough” and “T. La Sorda” you are referring to a toughness reminiscent of an old blubbery mound of lasagna, impossible to chew and tough to stomach for any amount of time. This well reminds me of T. La Sorda, and I must concede this title to him.

5) Lasorda bleeds blue. What color do you bleed?

This is quite difficult to answer, as I am dead. In my time some swore I sweated poppy juice, though this was but a deuced miserable rumor. I have always fancied myself a Gray, and view their collapse as a result of my departure from their team merely as an indicator of how important I was to the franchise.

6) What was it like facing Juan Castro?

You should ask J. Moyer this, who has been pitching for far longer than me.

7) Which current Dodger do you most admire, and why?

Watching C. Kershaw throw that beautiful looping parabola of a curve ball makes my bones ache. Good god he is a joy to watch take the mound.

8 ) Would you have enjoyed having Manny Ramirez as a teammate?

I would indeed. I rarely needed the assistance of my fielders, as I preferred to obtain outs on my own, and thus his comical adventures in left would hardly have been noticed. Had he made a mistake at a critical time, of course, after the contest he’d find a shiv in his back and a one-way ticket to the bottom of San Pedro Bay.

9) What, in your mind, is the most memorable moment in Dodger history?

Certainly changing their name from “Superbas” must rank rather highly. Another high point came on June 12, 1891, when Darby O’Brien — an Irishman!! — hit a three-run home run off of me in the bottom of the first inning in Brooklyn. This was the only home run I ever gave up to a member of that storied franchise. We should ignore that Mr. O’Brien only hit 19 additional such shots. He is not mourned.

On a more modern note, I have always been partial to Gil Hodges going 0-21 in the 1952 World’s Series. This is not out of some malevolent delight in watching a batsman suffer, though in truth what hurler would not enjoy this? Rather, it is a great appreciation for the sense of camaraderie and affection that existed for Hodges, a fellow who lived in Brooklyn and was something much more than what the term “fan favorite” connotes. The love that borough held for their first base man, even when mired in such an infelicitous slump, is one of the reasons generations of people still fondly reminisce about the Trolley Dodgers. Hoss must admit a soft spot for one G. Hodges.

10) Would you say Vin Scully is one of baseball’s great broadcasters, or is he still too young and needing to prove himself?

I will never say a harsh or jocular word about former Providence Grays bat boy V. Scully.