Sunday, January 6, 2013

Old Hoss and his Middle Finger

Old Hoss Radbourn... To those familiar with baseball's past the name conjures up thoughts of the iron man pitcher.  Charles Radbourn was a butcher by trade but earned his nickname as the workhorse of the Providence and Boston teams in the 19th century National League.  In 1884 he started and completed 73 games winning 59. 

These records are amazing but not the reason for this post.  Recently while researching Bert Blyleven I stumbled upon the history of the middle finger.  You know, the obscene gesture used as a quick and easy way to say F--- You!  Well I personally haven't flipped anyone the bird in years.  However as I read of Blyleven's fondness for flipping the bird I found this nugget:

That's Old Hoss in the back row to the left exercising the middle appendage on his left hand over the shoulder of his Boston Beaneater teammate.

Here is a better look:

Pictures courtesy of

You may be thinking- so what, you don't need to look hard to find a pro athlete or celebrity giving the bird.  What makes this unique is that Radbourne is believed to be the first public figure captured doing it in a photograph.

Radbourne won 309 games in just 11 years, last playing in 1891.  He was accidentally shot in the face by a friend while hunting in 1894 losing an eye and wrecking his health.  He spent three years with a variety of ailments before passing away in 1897.  He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1939 but he showed he was a rebel bad ass way back in 1886.

If you think Old Hoss has faded away, think again. A twitter fan tribute account keeps his legend alive.

See also-

Baseball reference page

SABR bio

Wikipedia page

1 comment:

  1. I think he may actually be holding something between his fingers. A cigar perhaps? It doesn't look like the base joins to his hand.