Philip Von Borries, 74, dies

Columbus, OH — Author Philip Von Borries, 74, who published multiple books on both baseball and horse racing, died March 24, 2022, after a long illness.

Mr. Von Borries was a frequent visitor at Louisville Downs and the Red Mile early in his career and was awarded the inaugural John Hervey Award for writing about harness racing.

A native of Lexington, Ky., Mr. Von Borries began his writing career by establishing the Cochran Chronicle, a weekly paper compiled and published in the basement of 1398 Cochran Road in Lexington, his home. Appropriately, this followed his parents’ example as they were both journalism graduates of the University of Kentucky who began their married lives operating a weekly paper in Hillsboro, Ohio.

Mr. Von Borries graduated from the University of Kentucky in 1970 with a degree in journalism. Times were tough and after not being able to get a newspaper job, he took his talents in a different direction toward his longtime loves of horse racing and baseball. He wrote about horse racing for numerous American, Canadian and European publications, among them Hoof Beats.

Following his love of baseball, Mr. Von Borries wrote American Gladiator, a biography of the 19th century Louisville, Ky., outfielder Pete Browning, whose broken bat led John “Bud” Hillerich to make a custom model and, in time, the woodworking company’s iconic Louisville Slugger.

Mr. Von Borries also wrote The Louisville Baseball Almanac, a reader on 19th century Louisville baseball titled Louisville Diamonds, and Racelines and RaceLens, collections of essays and photographs on Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing. He wrote extensively on the history of African American jockeys and won a 1990 Eclipse Award for his TV documentary “Black Gold.”

His baseball bylines have appeared in The Boston Red Sox Magazine, The Oakland Athletics Magazine, The Chicago Cubs Program Magazine, The Washington Times, Sports Collectors Digest and Oldtyme Baseball News. His baseball background also includes historical work on Pete Browning’s new grave marker, dedicated in 1984 during the centennial anniversary of the Louisville Slugger bat.

Most recently, he was a contributor to David Nemec’s landmark three-volume set: Major League Baseball Profiles, 1871-1900.

In recent years, Mr. Von Bories received loving care from Providence Pine Meadows in Lexington.

In memoriam for Phil, he would ask that you do something that makes you happy. For him this would be a Coke, a baseball game, a horse race or a good meal with family and friends with tons of desserts.

He is survived by his sisters, Betsy Borries Crean and Elise; beloved nieces, Marla Dodd Hudson (Jeff) and Melony Dodd Smith (Jim); and several great-nieces and great-nephews.

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