Hagerty: A missing major-leaguer: what happened to Fred Osborne?

From SABR member Tim Hagerty at The Hardball Times on October 4, 2019, with mention of SABR member Peter Morris:

When researching two-way players, I came across one Fred Osborne, who pitched and played left field for Pittsburgh in 1890. But a startling line in Osborne’s Wikipedia bio veered my research in a different direction:

Died: Unknown

It’s not just his Wikipedia page. I looked him up on baseball-reference, on Baseball Almanac, in baseball encyclopedias and baseball books. None of them listed Osborne’s death date, as they did for other deceased major leaguers. 

It turns out Osborne’s not alone. Of the 9,812 former major leaguers who have passed away, 162 have unknown death details. Many of these mystery men played a handful of games or less. But Osborne had 40 major league hits and threw 58 major league innings. How could someone so accomplished disappear?

Prolific researcher Peter Morris wrote a book about investigations like these and titled it Cracking Baseball’s Cold Cases: Filling in the Facts About 17 Mystery Major Leaguers. Morris and other members of the Society for American Baseball Research’s Biographical Research Committee mine genealogy sites, newspaper archives, census data and old city directories to track down missing death dates. Their countless discoveries have updated and corrected baseball encyclopedias and websites.

Read the full article here: https://tht.fangraphs.com/a-missing-major-leaguer-what-happened-to-fred-osborne/

Originally published: October 4, 2019. Last Updated: October 4, 2019.