Sunday, June 22, 2008

News Of Such A Startling Character

A dispatch from St. Louis says the proposed new baseball League in the East is creating alarm among the stockholders of the St. Louis Browns. President Von der Ahe, since his return from the East, has had several conferences with other stockholders in the club, and he has imparted to them news of such a startling character that many of them are publicly asserting that baseball in the West next year will be practically dead. The President of the Browns says that Day, Byrne, and Barnie are heartily in favor of the scheme, and that if they pulled the other strong Eastern clubs into line the scheme would be adopted. "Without the big Eastern clubs," said he, "the business would go to smash, and if war was declared the East would have the advantage from the beginning." Foutz, Welch, and Bushong of the home team are to be traded off or sold, and if the proposed Eastern League is an assured fact the stars of the Browns will doubtless be sold and St. Louis will be contented with its little Western League Club.
-The New York Times, November 20, 1887

The rumor about the Eastern clubs splitting off to form their own league is relatively interesting and I was vaguely aware of it but the idea that this potential threat was one of the reasons for the Browns' sell-off in 1887 is a new one to me. I'm not certain that I'm buying it. There were already enough reasons for the fire sale (which I've written about before on a few occasions) without complicating the matter with rumors of potential threats to the Browns' viability. Most likely, this news was disseminated to the stockholders and the public in order to lessen a potential uproar over the breaking up of the championship team. It was probably easier to say that we need to move these players to strengthen our financial position in the face of a grave threat from the Eastern clubs rather than to talk about how Von der Ahe needed to squeeze more money out of the Browns' in order to fund his other ventures, how Comiskey was unhappy with attitudes of some of his star players, and how Von der Ahe felt it was in the Browns' best interests to strengthen some of the other AA clubs.

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