Sunday, October 5, 2008

Success Was His Ruin

Mr. Joseph Blong, the Red Stocking pitcher, left for Cincinnati on Monday night (June 28, 1875), where he intends playing the remainder of the season with the Stars, of Covington, a club which the Reds lately defeated by a score of seventeen to nothing. Blong has treated the Red Stocking management very badly. He was retained at the close of last season for the reason that it was the desire to keep as many of the original Reds together as possible. This season he made somewhat of a reputation as a pitcher, and, as often occurs, success was his ruin. He could not stand praise, and thought that the Reds could not get along without him. But in this he erred. Aside from the dishonorable manner in which Blong seceded, he was legally bound to play with the Red Stockings throughout the season, having signed a contract to that effect in the presence of witnesses...

Manager McNeary will use his utmost endeavor to have Blong expelled from the professional association, in which case his occupation will be gone. This is the first case of revolvency that has occurred in St. Louis, and the player should be punished, in order to prevent a repetition of the jumping process in future.

Blong was the only inharmonious element in the club, and his withdrawal will strengthen it, as Dan Morgan, the original Red Stocking pitcher, will occupy that position in future, Ellick taking his place at center field.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 30, 1875


David Ball said...

Sorry, I added this comment to the wrong post: As I think I've mentioned here before, Blong's position was that the Reds had not paid him his salary and had no hold on him. In spite of the talk of expulsion the Reds later were apparently content to play the Covington Stars with Blong in the latter team's lineup.

The Stars eventually named Blong ream captain but then themselves later expelled Blong for allegedly throwing a game. However, there's no good evidence he was guilty of anything more than perhaps a measure of insubordination and tactless talk. By the time the hearing on his expulsion was held he had signed a contract with the St. Louis Browns for 1876 and didn't fight the issue very hard. The expulsion was pushed through by the club president, who within a few months fled to Canada after his accounts as a city official were found to be in default because of large sums of money he had embezzled to cover gambling debts.

Jeff Kittel said...

What was of interest to me in this piece from the Globe was that it documented the date that Blong left the Reds. I've been trying to document the second half of the Reds 1875 season from the departure of Blong through their season ending series against the Stocks and this is just part of that. I was looking at it day by day trying to find a reference to him leaving the club and you can see some trouble brewing when he missed a game against the Mutuals on June 17 and rumors were flying that he was getting ready to bolt the club. But things seemed to settle down a bit and he actually pitched for the Reds on June 27, the day before he left town.

Obviously most of the piece is the Globe serving as a mouthpiece for McNeary and giving us the Reds side of the story. But based on their reporting we know that Blong pitched for the Reds on the 27th and left St. Louis for Covington on the 28th.