Thursday, July 14, 2011

Charley Horse

When I was girl in Kearney, Nebraska, my dad played on a summer softball league. One day he got a charley horse! "What's a charley horse?" I asked, and he tried to explain to me the injury that was a cramp in his hamstring.  "What's a hamstring?"

Today, in the beautiful 74-degree cool perfect blue-sky summer day outdoors, I finished reading Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had, by Edward Achorn, who recently came to town and threw out the first pitch for a Cornbelters game.

I so enjoyed this book and reading it during baseball season. Learning how the game was played in the 1880s, finding out about the scanty rules and equipment, and coming to admire the somewhat sullen and eccentric but dedicated baseball player known as "Old Hoss" who retired to Bloomington, Illinois and is buried here in Evergreen Cemetery.

Achorn handles the history so well! Whatever is confirmed fact is confirmed in the book by stats, quotations, appendix, etc., and whatever is likely but not certain is gently acknowledged as such. And I like the way he handles baseball legends, as in the case of the "charley horse."  Achorn in his Epilogue:

As Old Hoss became a mythic figure, legends formed around his name. In 1907, an oft-told tale appeared in print about an incident during one of the famous Boston-Providence battles. Radbourn, running the bases, had sped around third when his leg cramped up and he had to limp home. Sandy Nava, "a Spaniard, who spoke broken English," piped up: "What's a malla you, Charley Hoss?" That's how the term "charley horse" entered sports lingo, supposedly. 


You can get this book at Amazon, of course, and also in the gift shop of the McLean County Museum of History!


Collagemama said...

You mean it wasn't because of Shari Lewis' puppet?

Kathleen said...

Shari Lewis! Of course! Charlie Horse! I had completely forgotten. Awwww, Lamb Chop....

Anonymous said...

I was looking for reviews of the book "Fifty-Nine in '84" when I came across your blog. I read your "interests" and "favorites" and they were so near my own. You must be a neat person. :-) After reading your review and "interests." I will indeed read the book. I think I will look up 'Ole Hoss' grave marker next time I am in Bloomington.

Kathleen said...

Thanks, Anon!