Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Sullivan Benefit

The benefit game for Tom Sullivan was played at the Union Grounds last Sunday afternoon, and there was an immense crowd in attendance. It was the biggest success in the way of a benefit scored in this country, and great credit is due for the able manner in which John T. Magner managed the affair. Tom Sullivan's friends were there in a body, and we noticed among the gathering the Sheehans, the Cullinanes, the Caseys, the McCafferys, the Lyons, the O'Neills, the Sullivans, the Hunts, the Fitzgeralds and all the rest of the Kerry Patch gang. The game between the Vets and the Peach Pies brought to the memory of the oldest inhabitant the days when base ball in St. Louis was in its infancy. In the veteran team appeared Joe Chambers, who did the pitching for the Empires twenty years ago. It is needless to say that his curves were lambasted terribly. At short field was John T. Magner, looking like Falstaff, with "good round bell," not as reliable though as when the great fielder of the St. Louis Reds of '76 and the Browns of '81. At third was Pidge Morgan who has not been seen on the field these many years, but looking like the old Dan and playing as earnestly as ever. At second was Packie Dillon, who with Morgan, played with the St. Louis Reds of '74 and '76. At left was (Ned) Cuthbert, once the prince of left fielders, running as lively as ever and capturing everything within reach, but not hitting the ball as hard as in the olden time. At right was (George) Seward, who with Cuthbert played with the Browns of '74, which was just twelve years ago. At center was Dean Simpson, the pitcher of the old Evansville club; while at first was Casey of the old Quincy's. Last but not least was Harry McCaffery, whose catching was not as effective as of old and, to cap the climax, there was Dan Devinney, of the old Louisville Brownstocking memory, officiating as umpire. Is it any wonder these old Vets failed to make a hit off Silch. They lost track of the ball long years ago. The Peach Pies on the other hand had a picnic with Chambers, while their fielding was unusually sharp and brilliant. The outfield had little or nothing to do. They played four new men who did splendidly, and proved themselves acquisitions. For the Vets, Cuthbert at left carried off the honors, making some beautiful catches of hard hit balls, particularly one from Black's bat, which was a liner, and good for two bases, which he headed off and spoiled a good hit. McCaffrey behind the bat and Dillon at second base also did well. Ingraham caught Silch splendidly for the Peach Pies and Black, Bouchard and Drissel all did good fielding. There was no mule race. The gentleman who had promised to furnish the mules brought out but one animal and it was like the Vets, too old to run. The sprint races were also postponed. The sprinters were afraid the time they would make effect them in the handicaps of May 30, and for that reason they refused to run...

From a financial standpoint the benefit was also a huge success. Mr. Magner alone sold $300 worth of tickets. The gate receipts were $500. Lew Simmons, of the Athletic Club, sent $39, te contribution of himself and players. Harry Wright sent $20. The Detroits also purchased a lot of tickets. Mr Magner desires to return thanks to Jack Sheehan, the Cullinane boys, Danny Lyons and all others who assisted him in making the benefit a success. Over $900 was realized in all, which will set Tom up in business.
-The Sporting News, May 10, 1886

I've written about Sullivan's troubles and the benefit game before and finally stumbled across the TSN article. I have to admit that, for some reason, this game ranks very high among all the historical games that I would have liked to have seen. You can have Ruth's called shot and Merkle's boner and the Homer in the Gloamin' and all that-I'll take a nice little exhibition game on a Sunday afternoon at the Union Grounds in 1886.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lew Whistler

Lew Whistler was an infielder who played four seasons in the National League and who ended his major league career by playing in ten games with the Browns in 1890. Described by The Sporting News as a "sober and reliable player," Whistler was born in St. Louis in 1868 and went on to manage several minor league clubs from 1895-1905. Whistler died in St. Louis in 1959 and is buried in St. Peters Cemetery in Normandy, Missouri. The photo below of Whistler's grave was taken by Connie Nisinger.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Photo Of George Munson

I found this picture of George Munson in one of Bill Burgess' threads at Baseball Fever. Bill always finds the best darn pictures.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Shamrocks Visit Lebanon

The North St. Louis favorites, the Shamrocks visited Lebanon, Illinois, last Sunday and administered a sound drubbing to the club of the place. The score was 21 to 1. Captain Burke, in the absence of Manager Walsh, handled the team to perfection and the quite gentlemanly behavior of the visiting team was noticeable and favorably commented on. Manager Walsh's new hand ball court will be ready for play to-morrow. His new saloon is rapidly nearing completion and his friends and all lovers of the sport should visit his popular resort.

-The Sporting News, June 24, 1893

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Highland Silver Shields

The Highland (Ill.) Silver Shields Base Ball Club has been reorganized for the season. It is composed of the following players: Julius F. Kamm, catcher; William Loyet, pitcher; Adolph Keohnen, first base; Bruce Suppiger, second base; Louis Speilerberg, third base; Oscar Lambelet, short stop; Eugene Schott, right fielder; Alois Kaufmann, center fielder; Elbert Todd, left fielder. They would like to hear from all clubs under nineteen years of age. Address all challenges to Julius F. Kamm, secretary and treasurer, Highland, Ill.
-The Sporting News, May 30, 1891

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Coldness Began To Creep In

The summers passed pleasantly, and warm friendships were made (among the members of the Cyclone Club), until the first mutterings of the approaching Civil War. As can be seen by the record already given of the different players, there were strong partisans on both sides, and coldness began to creep in where hitherto all had been so united. Finally the (Lafayette Park) grounds were occupied as a camp by General A.J. Smith with a troop of United States soldiers, and the "Cyclones" became a thing of the past.
-St. Louis Republic, April 21, 1895

I've written a few times about the effect that the outbreak of the war had on the Cyclone Club and have always been fascinated by the understated phrasing used to describe what was happening in the club as the nation fell apart. A "coldness began to creep in" is a beautiful turn of phrase and is now my favorite euphemism for the partisan divisions that took hold within the club.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Ferdinand Garesche's Unassisted Triple Play

The object (of the Cyclone Club) was exercise and amusement, and the game put up furnished any quantity of both. The ball being pitched, slugging was the order of the day and the fielders were on the run all the time. Very rarely did anyone attempt the dangerous feat of taking a ball on the fly, but preferred to wait for the bound, equally effective if caught in retiring the batter but allowing the those on base to run and even score on the hit, provided home plate was crossed before the ball was in hand. Owing to the fact that fly balls were so rarely taken by the fielders, as soon as a ball was struck those on bases started to run.

This, on one occasion, allowed (Ferdinand) Garesche to make a play, which now would be almost impossible, namely, to put out, unassisted, three men on one batted ball. On this occasion, knowing where the batter was in the habit of knocking the ball, he as shortstop was playing down near second base, with a man on first and second. Catching the ball on the fly he ran across second base, which had been vacated for third, and succeeded in catching and touching the runner for first who had attempted to make a second, before he could regain first.
-St. Louis Republic, April 21, 1895

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Denny Lyons

No player on the St. Louis Browns has made more friends than Dennis F. Lyons, their hard hitting third baseman, a portrait of whom we present above. His first engagement was in 1883 with the Keaton Club, of Covington, Ky. In 1884 he began the season with the reserve team of the Providence Club, of the National League, but finished it with the Lexingtons, of Lexington, Ky. In 1885 Lyons joined the Columbus Club, of the Southern League, and played third base in ninety-three championship games and ranked second among seventeen men. In 1886 he was a member of the championship Atlanta team, also of the Southern League, and played third base in seventy-six champion games. He stood fifth on the batting list with an official average of .316. It was during the latter part of that season that Manager Sharsig, of the Athletic Club secured him. He came from the Athletics here and since his arrival he has done yeoman service for the Browns.
-The Sporting News, June 20, 1891

Denny Lyons played for the Browns in 1891 and 1895. David Ball writes that the Browns purchased Lyons from the Athletics on September 2, 1890 for $300. Lyons "was under suspension for drinking and did not play for St. Louis until the following season."

The First Meeting Of The Cyclone Club

In the summer of 1859 a meeting was held in the office of the old Missouri Glass Company, on fifth street between Pine and Olive. M.W. Griswold, a clerk in the company's store, who had lately moved to St. Louis from Brooklyn, N.Y., an enthusiast on baseball, aided by the exertions of Ed Bredele, had gathered together the nucleus of a club, and after one or two preliminary meetings, the Cyclone Baseball Club was formed, the first in St. Louis, and the first west of the Alleghanies. The uniform adopted was blue flannel cap, blue flannel pants, with white stripe and white leather belt. Leonard Matthews was elected president; M.W. Griswold, field captain; Rufus Gamble, catcher; Fred Garesche, shortstop, and the positions of pitcher, basemen and fielders were filled by first one and then another of the players.
-St. Louis Republic, April 21, 1895

This article in the Republic, based on the recollections of Matthews, Garesche, and Maurice Alexander, is significant because it pushes back the beginnings of the regulation game in St. Louis into the summer of 1859. My assumption, based on Griswold stating that he was playing with the Hiawathas of Brooklyn in 1859, was that the Cyclone wasn't founded until the fall of 1859 and game play was limited until the spring of 1860. Now, however, we have a source that explicitly states that the Cyclones were active in 1859.

This is in line with Tobias' statements that the regulation game was being played in the city in 1859. However, there is an interesting problem here. There is no byline on the Republic article and we can't be certain who wrote it. But I would bet dollars to doughnuts that Tobias wrote this article. I've spent way to much time with the Tobias source and know the idiosyncrasies of his writing. The style, the punctuation, the spelling, the phrasing-it all screams Tobias to me. Also, note the date. Tobias began to publish his letters (or, more accurately, his series of epistolary articles) in The Sporting News in October of 1895, just a few months after this article appeared in the Republic. One would assume that Tobias had been doing the research and putting the series together prior to October and this article was the result of his interviews with former members of the Cyclone Club as he was putting together his longer work. If this is true then Tobias is still the only source that makes the claim of regulation games in 1859.

Still, this is a significant source that's rich in details about the club. I want to thank John Maurath from the Missouri Civil War Museum for sending me a copy.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Arlie Latham, Song And Dance Man

Arlie Latham-he of the glass arm-informs me that he will again be an actor the coming season. Arlie's first stage experience was with an opera troupe. Now he branches out as a burnt-cork artist. He has made an engagement already to travel with Doakstader's Minstrels next season. Arlie will sing in the first part and fill out in the big clog dances in the second.
-The Sporting News, May 16, 1891

Seriously now, who wouldn't want to see The Freshest Man On Earth in a vaudeville show?

A List Of Union Club Members From 1869

You never know what you're going to find when you start digging. I was going through some of the collections of the Missouri History Museum on more or less of a random hunt-just kind of seeing what they had and if it would be of any use to my research-and decided to do a search on Asa Smith, who's been on my mind the last couple of days. Lo and behold, I got a hit and come to find out that the Museum has a document, dated January 1, 1869, that lists all the active members of the Union Club. Complete blind, random luck.

The usual list of suspects are on the list-Smith, Bishop, Cabanne, Turner, Steigers, Oran, etc-but one name jumped out at me. Listed among club members is John A. Dillon. I'm almost certain that this isn't Packy Dillon's brother but you never know.

Click on the photo above to get a nice look at the document.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Alex Crosman Holds A Unique Place In Baseball History

While putting together a piece on the Cyclone Club, I was researching Alex Crosman, who was mentioned by both Leonard Matthews and E.H. Tobias as a member of the club. There was some difficulty in finding information on him because his name was spelled variously as Crosman, Crossman, and Grossman. He was tough to run down. Anyway, it took me a few hours to nail it down but I finally found his date of birth, date of death, and some other biographical information.

It seems that Crosman (the spelling that I've accepted) was a graduate of the Naval Acadamy and was stationed in St. Louis in 1860. Another club member, Orville Matthews, the younger brother of Leonard Matthews, was also a graduate of Annapolis and stationed in St. Louis. During the war, Crosman commanded the Commodore M'Donough in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron.

It was really tough to find information about Crosman's date of death and after running him through just about every database that I could think of I was on the verge of giving up and calling it a lost cause. Then I decided to do a basic Google search and got a hit on a New York Times article. This article was published on February 9, 1902 and mentioned Crosman's niece who was involved in the theater in New York. It also mentioned, in passing, Crosman and the way that he died.

It seems that Alex Crosman-baseball player, naval officer, Civil War veteran-was, according to The New York Times, "eaten by sharks in Panama waters in the late sixties while trying to save the lives of two sailors."

Alex Crosman was eaten by sharks.

I don't mean to make light of what was a tragic situation and a heroic death. I certainly don't mean to mock Crosman, who was an honorable man and gave great service to his country. But seriously. It was something like four o'clock in the morning and I had been digging into this for hours without any real success-looking through census data, checking cemetery records, searching death records, etc-when I found out the guy had been eaten by freakin' sharks. Honestly, when I first read the Times article, I started laughing. And I still find it amusing.

I think it's a very real possibility that Alex Crosman is the only baseball player whose cause of death will be listed in the records as "eaten by sharks."

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Down And Out

In a small saloon on the outer section of (St. Louis), Chris Von der Ahe, once a noted base ball magnate, is tending bar. Twenty-five years ago Von der Ahe owned the St. Louis Browns. Under the management of Charles A. Comiskey, who played first base and drew a $4000 salary, the Browns won four consecutive championships in the American Association and piled up a fortune for the quaint old Dutchman. As the Browns traveled over the circuit year after year Von der Ahe spent his money lavishly, entertaining hosts of friends and becoming known everywhere as a good fellow. But when Comiskey left him in 1890 to manage the Chicago Brotherhood Club Von der Ahe lost his all and troubles began to multiply. The Browns were taken into the 12-club National League, where competition was brisk. Von der Ahe soon found himself with a losing team and a shrunken bank account. In time he was forced to the wall and rival magnates employing methods peculiar to base ball, took the St. Louis Club away from him. Von der Ahe, almost penniless, could not afford to make a fight and was driven into bankruptcy. He had retired to a life of seclusion, but managed to scrape enough money together to buy a saloon, which failed. Meanwhile Comiskey after a series of ups and downs, got hold of the Chicago Americans-the White Sox-and coined a million. But Von der Ahe has never asked him for a dollar.
-Sporting Life, August 24, 1912.

I don't agree with all of the writer's interpretations regarding Von der Ahe but I really like the first sentence of that paragraph. That's a very nice piece of writing.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

I've Seen This Before

The field at Sportsmans' Park is all burnt up, and the expanse of withered turf is pretty good evidence of the red-hot time that has been prevalent in the Mound City this summer.
-Sporting Life, October 9, 1897

For those who don't know, it gets a little hot in St. Louis during the summer. We just went through a stretch of about two weeks where the high was in the upper nineties with ninety percent humidity. It was fairly miserable. If you're not careful, by the end of August the heat will kill off large chunks of your lawn. I've seen this at Busch Stadium-big blotchy brown patches all over the outfield. It's nice to know that they were having the same problem more than a hundred years ago. Of course, now I think they just paint the grass green and everything looks fine.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Funny Von Der Ahe Stories (or Somebody Please Find Me This Book!)

(Von der Ahe) had among his players several wags and jesters, among them Arlie Latham, Charlie Comiskey, Tommy Dowd, Bill Gleason, Bobby Carruthers, Yank Robinson, etc., who never were so happy as when they were retailing "a new one on the Dutchman." The players always were playing practical jokes on their employer and always laying some pitfall for his entertaining tongue. Thus "Von der Ahe stories" became so famous that a book of them was compiled at the time and had a large sale in base ball circles.
-Sporting Life, June 14, 1913

The above was taken from Von der Ahe's obituary in Sporting Life, which I'll probably post more of tomorrow. But seriously, I want to get my hands on this book of Von der Ahe stories. My contention has been that the image of Von der Ahe as a buffoon was a product of stories told after he had left baseball but the existence of this book is strong evidence that the image was a contemporary one. Of course, we need to look at the book and the stories and see specifically how Von der Ahe is portrayed and compare it to how he's viewed today but the existence of this book was certainly news to me and may force a reevaluation of my position.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Deathbed Meeting

Charles A. Comiskey, owner of the Chicago White Sox, on the night of Monday, February 17, gladdened the heart of his old employer, Chris Von der Ahe, who has a secure niche in base ball history as President of the famous St. Louis Browns, four-time pennant winners in the old American Association. Comiskey came from Chicago to visit Von der Ahe. He was met by Chas. C. Spink, who tried to inveigle him to a banquet. "I came down to see Chris Von der Ahe," said Commy, "take me to him." Spink whisked Comiskey to Von der Ahe's home. "That's the same house in which Chris lived when he first signed me to play ball at $75 in 1882," said Comiskey, as the car drew up in front of a stone house Chris built in his palmy days. "This is the proudest moment of my life," said Von der Ahe, who physicians say is stricken with an incurable malady. "It certainly makes me feel good to think that you came here just to spend three hours with your old boss." "How are you fixed," asked Comiskey. "I've got a lot and a nice monument already built for me in Bellfontaine cemetery," replied Chris as the tears began to fall. Comiskey brushed away a tear too, and into the hands of his old "boss" the magnate slipped a check. Von der Ahe wept like a child and a physician signified that the visit must end.
-Sporting Life, March 1, 1913

Chris Von der Ahe died less than four months later.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A Custom Search Bar

Over the last year, I've tried adding different search bars to the blog but was never happy with the results. They either didn't work well or didn't fit aesthetically with the template. Either too hot or too cold-never just right. But a site like this desperately needs a search function. The tags work pretty well but they're not perfect.

Today, I finally got around to creating a customized search bar (with the help of our friends/masters at Google) and I think it's going to do the trick. It's over there in the far right-hand sidebar. Give it a whirl and see what you think. If anybody has any problems with it please let me know so I can fix it up.

Sam Crane On Dunlap

Sam Crane played seven seasons in the major leagues from 1880 to 1890 and was a direct contemporary of Fred Dunlap. After his playing days ended, Crane became a baseball writer with the New York Press (1890-1898) and the New York Journal (1898-1925). He was, according to Bill Burgess, the most beloved sports writer of his day. In 1918, F.C. Lane referred to Crane as the "Dean of Baseball Writers."

In the January 6, 1912 issue of Sporting Life, Crane wrote an article about a list of the twenty best baseball players of all-time that Charlie Comiskey had compiled. Taking exception with some of the players Comiskey had on his list, Crane put together a list of his own. Among the men who he listed as the twenty greatest baseball players of all-time, Crane included Fred Dunlap.

In the article, Crane wrote that "Fred Dunlap was acknowledged to be the best second baseman of his day and was excellent from every angle. I think he excelled Fred Pfeffer, whom Comiskey picked."

I'm not arguing that Dunlap was the greatest second baseman of all-time or that he was even the best second baseman of his generation. All I'm arguing is that many of his direct contemporaries believed Dunlap was the best second baseman they ever saw and almost all contemporary references to Dunlap state that he was not only a star but one of the best players in the game.

Again, I must state that the conventional wisdom regarding Fred Dunlap is wrong.

Ned Hanlon On Dunlap

In the September 11, 1897 issue of Sporting Life, Ned Hanlon was asked to compare the 1887 Detroit champions for whom he was the captain and played center field with the 1897 Baltimore club that he managed. He prefaces his remarks by saying that "(you) must remember that base ball as played by the Detroit champions and the Baltimores is not the same article. The game, like all things, has progressed, and it is to-day more scientific than 10 years ago. It requires more thought and head work. It is in some respects like checkers and chess..."

He then says that "Fred Dunlap was at one time-I refer to his engagement at Cleveland before he came to Detroit-the best second baseman in the country. Taking his fielding, batting, base running and headwork into consideration, he was undoubtedly superior to (Heinie) Reitz or (Joe) Quinn (of the Orioles)...With the exception of second base, therefore, the Baltimore infield is faster of the two."

So Hanlon specifically states that at one time Dunlap was the best second baseman in baseball and that, despite the evolution of the game, he was superior to anything the Orioles had at second.

But still...never a legitimate star in a legitimate league.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Because I'm Not Going To Let It Go

So Fred Dunlap has passed into the great beyond, and the man whose salary figure marked the high-water limit of the long ago is gone! It seems only yesterday to me that I saw Dunlap chase the ball-and yet it was ten years or so, and most men had forgotten. I wonder how many fans who filled the parks last summer could have told whether Fred Dunlap was alive or dead...What a ball player this Dunlap was...

Dunlap was a real infielder of the type so popular ten years ago-one of the solid, bulky style through whom no grounder seemed able to pass, but who could nevertheless wave the hot ones goodbye with graceful ease when occasion demanded. With the gloves now in use to aid, Dunny would have been even a bigger wonder now than then. He was showy yet effective. He averaged up quite well with the two other kings of second base in those days-Pfeffer and McPhee. Each had his own way of going after the ball, his own style of throwing, his own methods in catching the throw and getting the runner. Dunlap never had quite the support that Pfeffer had, for it was never Dunny's luck to play in the middle of such a bunch as the stonewall infield of the Chicago champions. At least one or tow spots were always weak in Dunlap's infields, but this, perhaps, made his individual glory stand out more brilliant in the contrast.
-W.A. Phelon, Jr., writing in Sporting Life, December 27, 1902

Fred Dunlap's Obituary

Dunlap Dead

The Once Famous Star Second Baseman Ends His Days After Years of Gloom and Poverty in a Hospitial.

Philadelphia, Pa., Dec. 4.-Fred Dunlap, one of the stars of the diamond, was buried yesterday. He died on December 1 at the Philadelphia Hospital of consumption of the bowels, and his many friends took care of his body and had it interred in Odd Fellow's Cemetery. The funeral was held from the office of Undertaker Oliver H. Blair. Quite a number of the old ball player's friends attended and accompanied the remains to the cemetery. Dunlap was 43 years old.

Fred Dunlap was in the '80's one of the great players of the National League, sharing with Fred Pfeffer the honor of being the star second baseman of the profession. Dunlap was born in Philadelphia 43 years ago and graduated from the downtown lots. He first came into prominence as a professional with the Albany Club. For four years he was the star of the Cleveland National League team. In 1884 he jumped the Cleveland Club's reserve to play with Henry Lucas' St. Louis Club, of the Union Association. After two years in St. Louis Dunlap played with the Detroit, Pittsburg and Washington teams. He dropped out of the game in 1892 to follow the racing game, at which he lost the respectable fortune he accumulated in base ball, as he was always a high-salaried star ball player. The last two years of his life were spent in abject poverty and mental gloom.
-Sporting Life, December 13, 1902

I should really create a new tag called "beating a dead horse" because I think that's what I'm doing here. But we all have our biases, prejudices, and obsessions and this is mine.

Do I even have to write it?

His Sporting Life obituary refers to Dunlap four different times as a "star." But Bill James wrote that Dunlap was never a legitimate star in a legitimate league and that's now the conventional wisdom.

The conventional wisdom is wrong.

Friday, August 15, 2008

A Pair Of Significant Victories

The 19th century St. Louis clubs were never able to handle the big Eastern clubs that came to town in the 1860's and 70's, suffering a string of humiliating defeats. In fact, they were never even competitive against them. The Eastern Clubs, amateur or professional, were simply too much for the St. Louis clubs to handle. Teams such as the Empires, Unions, Reds, and Turners were not of the same caliber as their Eastern brothers. This was known and accepted at the time.

However, in September of 1874, the Oneida Club of Staten Island, "a crack amateur club," came to St. Louis and the losing streak against Eastern clubs came to an end. On September 21st, the Reds defeated the Oneidas 12-4. The next day the Empires beat them 16-10.

I had never heard of the Oneidas of Staten Island before and they're not mentioned by Marshall Wright as having played in the NABBP between 1857 and 1870. I would assume, based on that, that they were a relatively new club trying to take a big step forward by making a Western tour. The fact that they were defeated by both the Reds and Empires suggests that they weren't one of the better Eastern clubs.

However, a win is a win and these two victories mark the first time that a St. Louis baseball club defeated a club from the East.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

An Index To The Series On Known 19th Century St. Louis Clubs

Same concept as the last post (and a similiarly awkward post title): links to this week's posts on known 19th century St. Louis clubs all gathered together in one handy-dandy place.

Known 19th Century St. Louis Baseball Clubs, Part One
Known 19th Century St. Louis Baseball Clubs, Part Two
Known 19th Century St. Louis Baseball Clubs, Part Three

An Index To The Series On 19th Century Baseball Grounds In St. Louis

That's a long awkward title for a post but then again I never claimed to be Faulkner. Anyway, here's links to this week's posts on 19th century baseball grounds in St. Louis, for your convenience.

19th Century St. Louis Baseball Grounds, Part One

19th Century St. Louis Baseball Grounds, Part Two
A General Thought On 19th Century Baseball Grounds In St. Louis

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Known 19th Century St. Louis Baseball Clubs, Part Three

19th century St. Louis baseball clubs not mentioned by Tobias:

The Sporting News of March 17, 1886 mentions the Amateur League of St. Louis which contained the following teams:

St. Gotthard

St. Louis Amateur
West Ends
Union Blues

It also mentions the Business League which had six teams:

Hargadine & Co.
St. Louis News Co.
Wm. Barr Dry Goods Co.
Rice, Stix, & Co.
Brown, Daughaday, & Co.

The sixth team was the previously mentioned Sam. C. Davis & Co.

In a different article of the same issue of TSN, the Southern Illinois League and two east side teams are mentioned:

East St. Louis

The St. Louis Baseball League was founded in 1889, lasted one season, and was composed of five local teams among whom one (the Reds) has already been mentioned:

Sultan Bitters
Jolly Nine
Home Comfort

A game played in Edwardsville, Il, between the Eagles of St. Louis and the Madisons, the prominent Edwardsville team, was reported in TSN on March 17, 1886.

On October 17, 1886, the Madisons played “the Rescues, of North St. Louis” in Edwardsville.

Al Spink, in The National Game, while writing about Patsy Tebeau mentions that Tebeau, who grew up in St. Louis, learned his craft playing for the Peach Pies and the Shamrocks. This would have been in the very late 1870’s or early 1880’s.

In 1886 there were clubs in St. Louis called the Prickly Ash, the Waltons, the Jacksonvilles, and the Papins and there was also a club playing in Alton, Il.

A St. Louis club called the Standards are mentioned in G.W. Axelson’s biography of Charlie Comiskey as playing baseball in 1882.

Special mention also must be made of the Blue Stockings, an African-American baseball team that was active in St. Louis as early as 1875.

If we include Von der Ahe's Browns and Whites, that would give us a list of 109 baseball clubs, active between 1859 and 1888, that I'm aware of. Of course, as I stated in part one, this is in no way a comprehensive list. Most of the clubs on this list were active between 1860 and 1875 and were merely the most prominent clubs in the city. I have no doubt that there were innumerable minor clubs that I'm not aware of. If I had to guess, I would say that this list contains maybe twenty percent of the 19th century baseball clubs in St. Louis.

There's still a lot of work left to be done.

My 500th Post (With A Special Guest Appearance By Dusty Springfield!)

So...I guess this is my 500th post here at TGOG and, while I personally tend to shrug that kind of thing off, it is a milestone which needs to be recognized. And you all know how I'll use any excuse to post off-topic video.

It's my personal opinion that the greatest singer who ever lived is Aretha Franklin. I've always said that if God had a singing voice, He'd sound like Aretha. However, I think a very close second is Dusty Springfield. While her voice isn't quit as full as Aretha's, it does have a subtleness to it that I think Aretha lacks. Her voice is just this incredible instrument with an extraordinary range. She can do old school R & B, pop, ballads-Dusty could sing anything. Plus she had that blond beehive thing going on.

So to celebrate my 500th post, here's some of my favorite Dusty Springfield songs:

Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa

If You Go Away

Don't Let Me Lose This Dream

I Can't Make It Alone

You Don't Have To Say You Love Me

Nowhere To Run

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Known 19th Century St. Louis Baseball Clubs, Part 2

When writing about the founding of the Missouri State Association of Base Ball Clubs, Tobias notes that there were “quite a number of clubs organized in the interior cities and towns” of Missouri. He also mentions that sixteen St. Louis clubs attended the “preliminary meeting” founding the State Association. Sadly, he doesn’t name all of those clubs.

Veto-Tobias writes that the Empire Clubs’ anniversary game was played in 1868 “on the grounds of the Veto Club…”

Athletic-first mentioned by Tobias as having a club member on the State Association Judiciary Committee in 1868

Mutual-played a game against the Union Club on September 24, 1868

Union, Jr.


The above clubs were mentioned as having been defeated by the Union Club in 1868. The Union, Jr. was the junior nine of the Union Club. Most of the prominent 19th century clubs would, besides having multiple nines for the parent club, also have a junior club made up of younger players. The junior players would sometimes “graduate” to the parent club or sometimes split off and form their own independent club.

Lone Star

St. Louis

All the above clubs were mentioned by Tobias as intending to compete for the championship in 1869. The Lone Stars were a club “located in the Southern portion of the city.”

Olympic (ii)-In 1869, the Union Jr.’s broke away from their parent organization and formed the Olympic Club taking up the name after the old Olympic Club had broken up.


All of the above clubs were mentioned as being represented at one or more meetings of the State Association in 1869.

Washington University-first mentioned by Tobias as playing a match against the Unions on June 2, 1870; the club, composed of college students, was certainly active before this and probably as early as 1866.

St. Louis University-mentioned playing the Unions on June 25, 1870; again the club was likely active immediately following the end of the Civil War.

Bill Kelsoe, in A Newspaper Man’s Motion-Picture of the City, mentions that the nickname of the Wash U club was “the Olympics” and that SLU’s nickname was “the Pickwicks.” The rivalry between the two clubs was great and Kelsoe relates that Shepard Barclay, a former chief justice of the Missouri Supreme Court and member of the Union Club, told him that his fondest moment was when he pitched SLU to a victory over Wash U in a game on May 23, 1867.

Olympics of Carondelet-played a game against the Unions on July 30, 1870; this is the fourth team that used the Olympic moniker (including the original Olympics, the Union, Jr./Olympics, and Wash U).

St. Louis Junior-“A new organization, named St. Louis Junior, was composed entirely of Mechanics, formerly connected with the Atlantic, Jr., and they located (in 1871) on the old Veto grounds, near the Pacific machine shops, with Joe Blong, president.” I’ve seen a reference to the possibility that Packy Dillon also played for the St. Louis, Jr.’s and if this is true there’s an argument to be made that this is the club that would evolve into the Red Stockings.

Atlantic, Jr.-see above note.

Pacific-mentioned as holding elections for officers in 1871.

Varieties-“a new club…that had been but recently organized (in 1871) and having for its foundation five seceeders from the Atlantic Club…”

Rival-played a game against the Empire Club on August 4, 1872 and Tobias described them as having been “lately organized.”

Dodd, Brown & Co.
Crow, McCreery & Co.
Sam. C. Davis & Co.

“In the latter part of (the 1872) season base ball received quite an impetus through the inauguration of the early closing movement among mercantile and other business houses on Saturday afternoons, whereby the employees of a number of these firms were brought into organized clubs named after the firms by whom they were employed such as the (ones listed above). In those clubs some fine base ball talent was developed…” On the 1873 season, Tobias wrote that “(the) Mercantile community also took a deeper interest and more wide spread participation in the game and so numerous were the matches played by the representatives of business concerns that it will be impossible in this history to do more than give such games the briefest passing notice.” There is no telling how many clubs liked this existed in St. Louis in the 19th century and, along with minor clubs that weren’t part of the State Association or didn’t compete for the championship, it makes the task of putting together a comprehensive list of 19th century St. Louis baseball clubs an impossibility.

Red Stockings-first competed for the championship in 1873; competed for the national professional championship in 1875

Stoddards-“an entirely new club of young representatives of the solid families of the city” who first began play in 1873

Modocs-played a game against the Atlantics on July 13, 1873

Niagara-first mentioned playing a game against the Turners on July 20, 1873


Marble City
Forest City
J.B. Sickle & Co.
Burns & Deguan


All of the above were mentioned by Tobias as having played games in August of 1873

National-“A new club entered the base ball fraternity (in 1874)…under the name of National and was composed of players from the former Independent, Olympic, Commercial, Eckford, Union and Rowena teams.”

Independent-see above note.

Gymnasium-members of the Gymnasium Club played as a part of picked nine in a game against the Westerns of Keokuk on June 27, 1874

Artisan-members of the Artisan Club were at a special meeting of St. Louis clubs in 1874 that met upon the death of Asa Smith

Lone Stars of Collinsille-played a game against the Niagara Club on July 19, 1874.

Jackson-“organized from ‘Home Bitters’ (in 1874)…”

Home Bitters-see above note

Peerless-“On July 28 (1874), the Union Club defeated the Peerless at Grand Avenue Park…The latter club though young was already known as a club making low scores and playing brilliantly.”

Stocks-“The Stocks, as their name implies, was made up of livestock men, most of them residing in ‘Butcher Town’ north of Easton and west of Vandeventer avenue.” First mention playing a game on July 29, 1874.

White Stockings-“(A) consolidator of players from the Rowena and Jackson Clubs” who first played in 1874.

Brown Stockings-the National Association club made up of Eastern professional players that began play in 1875; moved to the National League in 1876 and disbanded after the 1877 season; remnants of the team would form an independent professional team in 1878, also called the Brown Stockings; two years later Chris Von der Ahe would become involved with the club and, by 1882, would have the team playing in the American Association.

Elephants-mentioned as a “prominent club that still existed in 1875 under the old amateur organization”

Besides the Elephants, Tobias mentions the Empire, Rowena, Atlantic, Olympic, Nationals, Niagara and Haymakers as the prominent amateur clubs still playing in 1875. There were questions as to whether any of the amateur clubs would be able to survive the presence of two professional teams in the city in 1875. “Many amateur clubs disorganized but the Empire and a few others determined to hold fast for the season at least.” While he was talking specifically about the Empire Club, Tobias could have been talking about the entire era of 19th century amateur baseball when he wrote that “(as) the season (of 1875) advanced it was made apparent that the famous old Empire Club was in its declining days…with the exception of an occasional spurt recalling its former glory, its record was that of a sick old man with the grip of death on his vitals.”

Grand Avenues-a club organized in 1875 by August Solari; played its home games at the Grand Avenue Park; on the board of directors of the club that year was Chris Von der Ahe, later to become famous as the owner of the St. Louis Browns.

Cote Brilliants-first mentioned playing a game against the Haymakers on August 21, 1875.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Known 19th Century St. Louis Baseball Clubs, Part One

“(It) would be an utter impossibility to publish all the games of the local clubs and therefore only such will be included in this record, with some few exceptions, as had a bearing upon the state championship and consequently the games between (St. Louis) clubs…must be restricted to such clubs as belonged to the State Association.” As E. H. Tobias wrote in The Sporting News, it’s an “utter impossibility” to discover and list all the clubs that existed in St. Louis in the 19th century. Tobias is certainly one of the best available sources for information about these clubs. It’s entirely possible that a thorough search of contemporary St. Louis newspapers would reveal names of more clubs but there is no doubt that Tobias has mentioned the most prominent and important baseball clubs in St. Louis between 1860 and 1875.

A quick note on club names: While I refer to clubs such as the Empire or Union (or sometimes the Empires or Unions), the official name of such a club would be the Empire Base Ball Club of St. Louis or the Union Base Ball Club of St. Louis. The actual name of almost all of the clubs on this list would take this form.

Morning Star

The above were, according to Tobias, “Among the very first of regularly formed clubs in St. Louis…” Of the antebellum clubs, Merritt Griswold, in a letter to Al Spink written in 1911, mentions the Cyclones, Morning Stars, Empires, and Commercials as the first clubs in St. Louis. Griswold makes the claim that the Cyclone Club was the first organized baseball club in St. Louis and there is enough evidence backing up Griswold’s claims to take this seriously. Tobias claims that the Union Club was the first club in St. Louis, forming in 1859 (or 1860; the text is difficult to make out). There is no evidence backing up Tobias’ claim that I’m aware of and several factors that make it unlikely. Any claims that Jeremiah Fruin was the first person to bring baseball to St. Louis and that he formed the first club in the city are demonstratively false.

While there is a substantial amount of information about St. Louis baseball in the antebellum period, the history is still obscure. We know that baseball was being played by 1860 and that season was an active one. We also know that most of the clubs that had formed by the summer of 1860 disbanded due to the pressures of the Civil War. The only club that I’m aware of that was active during the war years is the Empires. That the Empires continued their baseball activities during the war years is rather remarkable and generally unique in baseball history. There are very few clubs that had formed in the late 1850’s that not only survived the outbreak of the war but were active during and after it.

Information on baseball activity prior to the fall of 1859 is difficult to come by. There is enough circumstantial evidence and vague references in the source material to believe that something was going on prior to the 1860 season. There were certainly bat and ball games being played in St. Louis prior to 1860-town ball, cricket, etc.-and there were organized clubs that played these games. But the best evidence to date suggests that the Regulation Game of baseball was not introduced in St. Louis until the fall of 1859 and that the first match games were not played until 1860.

The organization of the clubs listed above date to this period. Griswold came to St. Louis from Brooklyn in the fall of 1859 and, along with his co-worker Ed Bredell, formed the Cyclone Club. That winter, Griswold also published the rules of the game in the Missouri Democrat. In his letter to Spink, Griswold states that he found the Morning Star Club (whose members were mostly employees “of the firm of Ubsdell, Pierson & Co.”) playing town ball and convinced them to try the new game of baseball. The Union Club was formed by Asa Smith around the same time, possibly as early as 1859, and was made up of high school students. The Empires were organized at a meeting on April 16, 1860 and, according to Tobias, “was largely composed of men who had been connected with the old volunteer fire department…” It had the largest membership of all of the antebellum clubs, “(outnumbering) most all the other clubs put together…,” and was most likely founded by Joseph Hollenbeck, the first secretary and centerfielder of the club. The Commercial Club was made up of “young business men.”

The first mention of the Olympics by Tobias was in reference to a June 7, 1866 game against the Unions.

The first mention of a game by the Hope Club was a June 20, 1867 match against the Unions.

Excelsior-Mentioned by Tobias “as being one of the ante-bellum organizations…” Evidence suggests that they were another town ball club that switched to playing baseball.

Laclede -The Laclede Club was mentioned by Al Spink, in The National Game, as one of the early opponents of the Empires. It’s unclear if the club was active in the antebellum period. Tobias states that the club was made up of master mechanics and describes them as one of the “early” clubs.



These clubs (along with the Resolute and Hope clubs) were mentioned by Tobias as taking part in a torchlight parade in 1865 honoring the Empire Club, who were returning from the first road trip by a St. Louis club.

Pickwick-Played a game against the Unions on May 9, 1867.

Magnolia-Played matches against the Olympics and Unions in 1867 and were a club “located in the Southern portion of the city.”

Sherman-A club founded by Louis Schrader in 1867 and named after Gen. Sherman; “existed only for a year or so…”

Star-Another club founded by Schrader and another “short lived” club.

Turner-Schrader’s third attempt at starting a baseball club; William Medart also was involved in the original organization of the club; the club was composed, as the name suggests, largely of lathe or machine operators; “one of the strongest” clubs in the city, according to Tobias.

Aetna-Another club that Schrader belonged to.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

A General Thought On 19th Century Baseball Grounds In St. Louis

Because I can't leave well enough alone:

Al Spink, in The National Game, wrote that “(up) to that time (1860) indeed games were played on the prairie in North, South and West St. Louis by the boys of the town, who gave no heed to club organization or anything of that sort.” Spink’s observation is extremely relevant to any discussion of the growth of the game in St. Louis and the number of places where the game was played in the city. The growth of the game and where the game was played is intertwined in such a way that the latter propelled the former.

In But Didn’t We Have Fun?, Peter Morris speaks to the connection between the growth of the game and the availability of land upon which the game could be played. For the game to thrive, there had to be, obviously, land which could be used as a baseball field but also land that was accessible to both players and spectators. At the same time, the field could not be located in a downtown urban environment where flying baseballs and running athletes might do damage to windows, passer-bys, and the like.

St. Louis, unlike almost any Eastern city, had an abundance of open land easily accessible to its citizens. In 1860, as the game began to take off, St. Louis had been settled for less then one hundred years. It was a small town that, for the most part, still hugged the river and didn’t stretch more than a handful of blocks west. As Spink noted, to the north, west, and south of the city was an abundant amount of open land that, upon the founding of the city, was designated as common farm land. While the commons were eventually swallowed up by the growth of St. Louis, in the 1860’s and 1870’s this area was just outside of the city proper, cleared for agricultural purposes, and easily accessible to those living in the city itself.

An example of the nature of the area can be seen in the Camp Jackson affair. At the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861, the pro-Confederate Missouri State Militia was sent by Gov. Jackson to St. Louis. Without delving into the details of the affair, the militia camped just outside of the city of St. Louis in a location that was quickly named Camp Jackson. In pictures of Camp Jackson taken at the time (see photo at top of post), the area appears to be a wide-open prairie bordered by groupings of trees. The significance of this to the history of baseball in St. Louis is that the area where the Militia camped would after the Civil War become the Veto Grounds and eventually the Compton Avenue Park.

The St. Louis commons were perfect for playing baseball. Open and accessible, they gave the baseball fraternity in the city a variety of places to play. On can see that the location of most of the known 19th century baseball grounds in St. Louis were located in areas that had formally been part of the commons. The Grand Avenue Grounds in the north, the Veto Grounds in the west, the Lone Star Grounds in the south-all were built in areas that had only recently been farmland and was only just beginning, in the post-Civil War era, to be developed.

The availability of open land just outside the city of
St. Louis and easily accessible to the people of the city is one of the most important factors in the growth of the game in St. Louis. The numerous places where the game was played in 19th century St. Louis clearly illustrates this.

19th Century St. Louis Baseball Grounds, Part Two

Que the fanfare, strike up the band-heres's part two of my list of baseball grounds used in St. Louis in the 19th century:

The Grand Avenue Grounds-“The subject matter of providing a permanent habitation and home for the Empire Club had long been under consideration by leading members of the club and early in this season (of 1868) assumed a tangible form by the appointment of a committee to select suitable grounds. They reported favorably upon what became known as the St. Louis Base Ball Park, the property being then a cornfield and owned by John Dunn. At the same time the Union Club, having become dissatisfied with their own grounds further South on Grand Avenue and opposite where now stands the Rock Church, also discovered the availability of the tract selected by the Empire committee. The main recommendation of this ground was its near proximity to the Fair Grounds which was then the objective point of several street car lines built and to be built. August Solari, a member of the Empire Club, secured a five-year lease of this property and entered into an agreement with the Union Club whereby upon the payment of a small rental and giving him the lumber contained in their old grounds for use in the erection of grandstands, fencing, etc., in the new park, Solari was obligated to provide necessary accommodations, keep the grounds in good order, the Union Club to have the exclusive right to use of the park on certain days. The Empire Club rented from Solari two days in each week, one being Sunday. It was in the foregoing manner that old Sportsman’s Park, as it was known eventually, became the main base ball center of the city and for several years thereafter it remained so…The first game on the new grounds was played Saturday, May 3, 1868, between the first and second nines of the Union Club and next came the first regular match of the Empire Club for this season…on May 21 with the Commercial Club, resulting in a score (unintelligible) in favor of the Empires.”

Note: The Grand Avenue Grounds was the scene of most of the major baseball matches in StL between its creation and 1874. As home to both the Empires and Unions, “the base ball park,” as it was commonly referred to, would see uncountable championship matches as well as all of the most important baseball visitors to StL. It would also serve as the home of the Brown Stockings from 1875 to 1877 when they played in the NA and NL (when it would be the scene of the first NL game played in StL). After the collapse of the Brown Stockings following the 1877 season, the park would fall into disrepair until it was rebuilt by Sportsman’s Park and Club Association in 1881.

“The former Grand Avenue Park had long since fallen into disuse. With monies from the Sportsman’s Park Club and Association, the rotten bleachers were replaced with a double-decker grandstand and bleachers. Capacity was 8,000, including comfortable chairs for ladies and a special section dedicated exclusively to the ‘howling’ element of fandom.” J. Thomas Hetrick Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns

Note: The park would be home to the Browns until they moved to New Sportsman’s Park in 1892. The AL Browns would build the “modern” Sportsman’s Park on the grounds in 1902 and the grounds would be the scene of professional baseball until 1965.

The Abbey Race Track Grounds
-“The Atlantic Club having established itself on new grounds at the Abbey race track played an inaugural game on Sept. 14 (1870) with the Empire Club, defeating the latter 25 to 19. The grounds were not in suitable condition but one prior game having been played upon it.

The Wash Home Grounds-“…on June 1 (1873)…the Niagaras played the Hermans…on the Wash Home grounds…”

The Rivals Grounds-“The Red Sox defeated the Rivals on June 1 (1873) by a score of 47 to 5…on the Rivals grounds…”

The Lone Star Grounds-“…(on July 20, 1873) the Red Stocking and Rival Clubs played on the old Lone Star grounds back of Lafayette Park…” Al Spink, in The National Game, mentions a grounds just south of Lafayette Park where the Rowenas and Vanities played; this is probably the same grounds.

Red Stocking Park-also known as the Compton Avenue Park, built in 1874 by Thomas McNeary on the site of the old Veto grounds; “On May 24 (1874) the Empires and Red Stockings opened on their series of championship games at Red Stocking park.” Was the site of the first game between two “professional” clubs on May 4, 1875 when the Reds took on the Browns in the first National Association contest in StL. Of course, the evidence suggests that there were professional teams in StL prior to this and the first game between two professional teams in StL probably took place in the late 1860’s. Baseball was played at the Compton Avenue Park until it was torn down in the 1890’s.

Stocks Park-“The Stocks, as their name implies, was made up of livestock men, most of them residing in ‘Butcher Town’ north of Easton and west of Vandeventer avenue. Their grounds were located between (unintelligible).” I’m unable to read the Tobias text at this point and establish the location of the Stocks Grounds although one would assume that it was located somewhere around Vandeventer, near the site of what would become New Sportsman’s Park. Al Spink, in The National Game, mentions that the Stocks Grounds was located “just off Easton, near Vandeventer avenue” which, naturally enough (since Spink owned and edited TSN) seems taken directly from the Tobais material. Spink writes: “In 1875 William L. Cassidy, Josh Rothschild and other baseball enthusiasts and livestock dealers built the Stocks Park which was located near the car sheds in the vicinity of Easton and Vandeventer avenues.”

The Elephant and Saw Log Grounds-“The Elephant and ‘Saw Log’ Grounds on the river front, open field east of Broadway and north of North Market street, where the Elephant and ‘Saw Log’ teams played their games in the early seventies.” Al Spink, The National Game

Note: The Elephant club didn’t become prominent until around 1874/5 so Spink might be a bit off with his dates here.

Kensington Garden Grounds-“The game (between the Home Comforts and the Sultan Bitters) was played (in 1889) on the Kensington Garden grounds and the Comforts were the winners by a score of 3 to 2.” Al Spink The National Game

Spink mentions that the grounds were located at “Union and Page avenues.”

The St. Louis Amateur Grounds-mentioned by Spink as being located at “Missouri and Russell avenues” and, along with the Kensington Garden Grounds, as the site of games between teams in the St. Louis Baseball League in 1889

Union Park-“(Henry Lucas) built Lucas Park on his own land, with a capacity for 10,000 fans. Lucas believed in comfort and aesthetics. Features included a huge grandstand, upholstered folding opera chairs, and leisure facilities. Patrons entering were serenaded by a cage full of canaries. With such amenities, the park was dubbed ‘The Palace Park of America.’ Fans weren’t the only pampered guests. The grounds housed a dressing room and reception area. One room was for reading and lectures. Another was designed for hygiene. The washroom had no less than nine bathtubs. For the fifty-six-game (1884) home schedule (of the Maroons), ball cranks could purchase a reserved season ticket for $22. Bleacher season tickets sold for $11.00.” J. Thomas Hetrick Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns

New Sportsmans Park-“The New Sportsman’s Park, built in 1893 at the corner of Vandeventer Avenue and Natural Bridge Road, was one of (Chris) Von der Ahe’s many risky real-estate ventures. On April 16, 1898, a disastrous fire virtually destroyed the ballpark. Von der Ahe sank his dwindling cash reserve into rebuilding it…” Jon David Cash Before They Were Cardinals

Coney Island of the West,” as it was dubbed, was a forerunner of the modern day sport complex with its racetrack, bicycle track, water ride, etc coupled to the attraction of the baseball game. After the fire, it was quickly rebuilt and no games were cancelled. However, it was rebuilt on a less grand scale and was little more than a simple ballpark. Would be renamed Robison Field after the Robison brothers acquired the Browns early in 1899. The soon-to-be renamed Cardinals would continue to play at the ballpark until (if memory serves) 1920.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Sullivan Writes About Von Der Ahe

Should three volumes of 500 pages each be written on Chris Von der Ahe's base ball life it would not contain all the humorous and exciting incidents in his meteoric career. The particular incident that is to be recited here has never been written, although the writer remembers it well.

The writer, when he managed the famous Browns for Chris, also joined him in a business venture in base ball supply and general sporting goods on the corner of Sixth and Pine streets in St. Louis. This was the headquarters for the Browns and general public. Genial Chris was seen here both morning and night on some important matters that he wished to impart to his manager. On this particular day there was a great crowd at the game with the Cincinnati Reds. It took place on a Saturday and Chris counted 10,000 people. "Honest John" Kelly was the king of umpires at that time and he officiated on this Saturday afternoon.

Chris, that season, was in high feather. It was his second year in base ball but the first successful one, as in the year previous, in 1882, he had a tail-end club in a league of six cities and before that season ended he had seven managers, eight groundskeepers, 20 gatekeepers and 10 secretaries at different times of the year. That year, '83, his club, the Browns, was at the top. He was drawing from 4,000 to 10,000 spectators on week days and from 12,000 to 17,000 on Sundays and giving only $65 to the visiting clubs, which was the commercial rule in the association that year.

In the second inning on that particular day, "King Kel" made a decision which told against the Browns but nevertheless was just, in the writers opinion. Chris took exception to it, upon the advice of his "hot air" friends, and made a bee-line for the telegraph operator, who was on the grounds. In his haste and excitement to get to that individual, he bumped up against a tray of beer that was in one of the waiter's hands and sent the glasses flying. When he reached the operator, he sent the following dispatch to James Williams, of Columbus, who was then secretary of the American Association:

"Take Kelly at once from my grounds, he is stopping my Browns from winning, and send me up Charley Daniels from Louisville to St. Louis for tomorrow's game."

Chris then turned to his friends and remarked: "'King Kel' will have a chance to make those decisions tomorrow in Louisville," and trotted off at a pompous gait.

The writer was oblivious to this act of Chris until John Kelly came to him after the game and showed him the wire from Williams, ordering him to leave for Louisville at once. Neither of us understood (the order) but thought that it came from Williams himself. That night at about 10 o'clock Chris (came) into the base ball headquarters and said, "What do you think, Ted? Daniels got left by the regular train and I had to get a special engine and coach to bring him on here from Louisville, and the railroad company charged me $300. But he will be here in time to umpire tomorrow's game."

I looked at him in dumb amazement and said: "What is getting into you? Kelly was all right and here you are making a laughing stock of yourself by paying a railroad company$300 dollars to bring a man here who should have been left in Louisville."

The grand Teuton reflected for awhile when he saw the wisdom of my remarks and said, "We can't stop the train now, for Daniels has certainly started, but you see the advertisement we will get out of it by paying $300 for a special train to bring an umpire to St. Louis."

So it has gone on record that Chris Von der Ahe, of St. Louis, the (then) president of the boss club paid the highest price on record for the services of one umpire for one game...
-Ted Sullivan, writing in The Sporting News, March 8, 1902

This is a perfect example of how Von der Ahe was turned into the buffoonish character that is portrayed in most histories. Sullivan was a great baseball man and I don't think anybody in the game was more respected. But the man was a raconteur who enjoyed telling humorous and entertaining baseball stories. In fact, shortly after Sullivan published this piece in TSN, he published Humorous Stories of the Ball Field (which I've yet to read but would love to get my hands on). Sullivan actually told a couple of different versions of this story one of which involved Von der Ahe denying to Sullivan that he had anything to do with the umpire switch only to have some flunky burst into the room talking about how they could get a train for Daniels but it would cost $300 dollars.

It's a good story and I'm sure Sullivan, in person, told it well but how much truth is there too it? Difficult to say. The story at its core my indeed be true and there may have been an umpire switch instigated by Von der Ahe that forced him to pay the $300 for a special train. But in the end that isn't the real point. It's the way Sullivan tells the story, the details about Von der Ahe he includes, the way he describes him that paints him as a clown and damages his reputation.

Sullivan, without any malice, did more to damage Von der Ahe's reputation as anybody (except for maybe Von der Ahe himself).