Len Sowders, When Did You Pass Away?

Each day I post an item on Facebook’s Sulphur Dell Ballpark page that relates to Nashville baseball, usually an event that happened on that particular day. It is more difficult locating past events during the off-season, and much of the time I depend on birth dates and days of passing for players or other persons of interest. A few days ago, I posted this entry:

“November 19, 1888 – Len Sowders, outfielder-first baseman for Nashville in 1885 and 1886, dies of typhoid fever at the age of 27 in Indianapolis.

“Sowders batted .300 during his first year with the Americans, Nashville’s inaugural professional team. In 1886 he began the season with Nashville, batting .282, then played for Baltimore of the American Association in September where he hit .263 in 23 games.

“His brothers John and Bill played parts of three seasons in the major leagues.”

The main source for the post was retrieved from Baseball-Reference, and as I like to have two sources, I confirmed Len Sowders’ date of death on the Find A Grave  website which I accessed through Ancestry.com.

Good enough? Not quite.

My amicable friend, baseball cohort, researcher extraordinaire, and fellow blogger Mark Aubrey saw my post and brought to my attention that the date of death for Len Sowders was not November 19th, but was indeed November 21st:


Up to that point Mark had two sources, just as I did. I quickly scrambled to find an additional source that would confirm poor ole’ Len’s date of death. But before I could find it, I received another post from Mark:


That was good enough for me. Mark trumped me. And perhaps Baseball-Reference used Find A Grave to determine the date of Len Sowders.

But besides that, shouldn’t I be upset that another writer/researcher/blogger would call me out for an incorrect post?

No. Not in the least. Every writer should do his/her best to be certain that the story is right. Sometimes even the sources are wrong. It is important that there are friends out there like Mark who want stories told correctly, and no minor point is to be overlooked.

Honestly, I need more pals like Mark Aubrey. Thank you Mark.

And did you notice the headline above, “Declared Out By Death”? I chuckled when I first saw it. I’m not sure Len would have found it humorous, and I doubt that his family did. But with the help of Mark Aubrey, we can declare that Len Sowders passed away 126 years ago on this very day, November 21, 1888.

© 2014 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

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Filed under Biography, Current, History, Opinion, Research

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