Friday, March 21, 2008

The Burden Of August Solari's Prayers

One of the finest amateur clubs ever in St. Louis was organized (in 1875) by Mr. August Solari, proprietor of Grand Avenue Park and one of the original founders of the Brown Stocking Club. His aim was to have a team that could compete with any and all clubs, professional or amateur, and in this endeavor he was so successful that his new bantlings, the Grand Avenues, went through the seasons of 1875 and 1876 with only two defeats, one at the hands of the Brown Stockings...and the other was a forfeit to the Peerless Club...The original players of the Grand Avenues were as follows: D. Simpson, p; Jon. Solari, c; P. McKenna, 1b; Dan'l Whalen, 2b and captain; John Whalen, 3b; George Newell, ss; Jon. Schenk, rf; Joe Britt, cf; L. Simpson, lf; H. Little, H. McCaffery and R. Walsh, substitutes.
-E. H. Tobias, writing in The Sporting News, February 15, 1896

Tobias goes on to list the officers of the club, among whom was one "Chris Von der Ahe, grocer." He writes that "Thus it was that the present Pooh Bah of the St. Louis Club became introduced to the base ball world and it is ducats to dimes at the present time that if that good old man and true friend to the base ball fraternity, August Solari, had the job to do over it wouldn't be done at all, for it is the burden of his daily prayers that he may be forgiven for having perpetrated this outrage on the base ball fraternity in general and St. Louis in particular."

The general mythology has Von der Ahe, the baseball neophyte, becoming involved with the Browns in 1882. Of course, Von der Ahe was no neophyte and had been involved with the Interregnum Brown Stockings for several years prior to creation of the American Association. The information that Tobias provides shows that Von der Ahe had been interested and involved in St. Louis baseball since 1875.

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