Sunday, December 9, 2007

August Solari Tears Down The Grand Avenue Ballpark

According to Charlton's Baseball Chronology, on this day in 1877 August Solari, "operator of the Grand Avenue ballpark in St. Louis", announced that he would tear down the grandstands at the ballpark.

Jon David Cash, in Before They Were Cardinals, wrote that the "Grand Avenue Park dated back to 1866, when its baseball diamond had been laid out by August Solari, an amateur ballplayer and member of the Empires who had secured a five-year lease on John Dunn's corn field. Solari and the Empires had selected the site because it was located near the Fair Grounds, where several streetcar lines converged." After the Brown Stockings resigned from the National League in 1877, "Solari had torn down the nine-thousand-seat grandstand." In 1879, "(with) his latest five-year lease on Grand Avenue Park set to expire, Solari decided not to spend sixty-five hundred dollars to renew the lease, planning instead to dismantle the ballpark. In October, without explanation, Solari announced, 'Next week I am going to get out of here. I am going to take down the stands, the benches, and everything else.' Bemoaning this development, the Missouri Republican asked, 'Who is there that loves the national game that will not be pained to hear that the old park is to be defaced?'"

Partially in response to Solari's actions, a local St. Louis tavern owner by the name of Chris Von der Ahe would take over the lease, form the Sportsman's Park and Club Association, and renovate the old ballpark, which he would rename after his new Association.

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