'Cleveland Show' writer options baseball book

Kirker Butler nabs historical biography 'Fifty-Nine in '84'

Kirker Butler, a co-executive producer and writer on Fox series "The Cleveland Show," has optioned movie rights to "Fifty-Nine in '84: Old Hoss Radbourn, Barehanded Baseball, and the Greatest Season a Pitcher Ever Had."

The historical biography, by Providence Journal columnist Ed Achorn, tracks the story of a little-known pitcher who set a season record of 59 wins that never will be broken.

The book is set in 1884, when baseball was in its infancy and looked down upon by much of the public, a time when pitchers threw balls at batters' heads and catchers played barehanded. The story centers on Charles "Old Hoss" Radbourn and what he endured -- including pitching so much he couldn't lift his arm to comb his hair.

Butler said he's not a baseball buff, just a fan of good stories and good characters. He sparked to the rambunctious Radbourn, who among other achievements is purported to be the first person in history to be photographed flipping the bird and who fell in love with a local madam to whom he pretended to be married.

Butler hopes to partner with a producer and find a writer to adapt the book. "The goal is to make the best movie, not to find a movie for me to write," he said.

It might seem odd that Butler, who also wrote "Family Guy Presents: Something Something Something Dark Side" and worked on "Family Guy," is taking a step into a period sports movie, but to him it's about diversifying.

"The way the industry is changing, I just can't stay in TV animation forever; I think it's important to do something different," he said. "These shows are intense and can take a lot out of you, and one of the reasons I'm able to stay inspired is because when I'm not working on the show, I'm keeping busy with other projects."

Butler also is working on "Blue Agave and Worm," a comic book he created centering on a Mexican superhero, for Viper Comics.