Saturday, December 6, 2008

Joe Blong's Obit

Joe Blong, at one time...identified with the great national game, has passed from this life into that beyond the great dark curtain of which no man knows. He was thirty nine years and six months of age and in the days of the old Red Stockings in this city was looked upon as the greatest all around player on the diamond. He played professionally with the early St. Louis Reds and was one of the best known figures in base ball circles throughout the country. He recently had a brief engagement with the Lucas Union Association, which was his last on the diamond.
-The Sporting News, September 24, 1892

A couple of interesting things here. First, according to Baseball Reference, Blong was born on September 17, 1853 and died on September 17, 1892, making him exactly thirty nine years old when he died. So it's possible that B-R has Blong's date of birth wrong. Secondly, I have a reference to Blong playing with "the Union reserves" against the Maroons in April of 1884, which was the first game ever played at the Union Grounds. I had assumed that Blong was trying and failed to make Lucas' new club and this reference to Blong's "brief engagement" with the Maroons seems to confirm that.


Richard Hershberger said...

The birth and death dates in baseball-reference are from some standard data set that was compiled decades ago: I don't know by whom. The data is usually pretty reliable, but for obvious reasons more so for death than birth dates. The "official" birthday being the same as the death day makes me a bit suspicious. I can imagine some obit saying he was 39 years old, and some researcher taking this overly literally. If you are really motivated, genealogists have tools for this sort of thing. I would start with trying for his death certificate, which might include a date of birth.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

The DOB and DOD being the same day doesn't really bother me. It happens.

Connie Nisinger, at Find A Grave, has him being born on September 17, 1853 and his date of death as September 16, 1892. I know that Connie works at Bellefontaine Cemetery in StL and has access to the records at Calvary Cemetery, where Blong is buried. I'll email her and see where she got the information.

The Missouri State archives doesn't have a death record for Blong but the database for pre-1910 deaths is a bit spotty. Even when they have a record of the death, the information is always incomplete. Dealing with the pre-1910 Missouri Birth & Death Records database can be more than frustrating.

It looks like at this point we have varying information on both the DOB and the DOD. And I'm definitely feeling the need to run this information down.

Cliff Blau said...

The 1870 census said that as of June of that year he was already 17.