No base ball man in the country is better known than Chris Von der Ahe, the principal owner and manager of the St. Louis Club. Mr. Von der Ahe has always taken a deep interest in sports, and especially in base ball. He first went into the game in 1877, when, with the assistance of J.W. Beckington, he organized the St. Louis Sportsman's Association. He leased the grounds now known as Sportsman's Park in 1876, and spent some $6,500 to have the grand stand and other fixtures erected. Then he got together a club of young local amateurs and called it the Grand Avenue Base Ball Club. They played on the co-operative plan, and all the money taken in at the gate was divided among the players.-The St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 8, 1885
This bit, the third source I've found that notes Von der Ahe's involvement in baseball prior to 1881, comes from a fantastic article in the Globe about the champion Browns. It covers the reception that the team received when it returned to St. Louis, has a brief history of the club, as well as brief profiles of all the players. Good stuff. I'll definitely be posting more from this article.
The main point, however, is here is another source that has Von der Ahe involved with the Grand Avenue Club in the mid-1870's, several years before Ned Cuthbert walked into Von der Ahe's bar and had to explain to the thick German what the heck all the ruckus across the street was all about and why all his customers kept leaving the bar at a certain time of the day only to return a couple of hours later. We can now say, without a doubt, that the idea that Von der Ahe knew nothing about baseball prior to becoming involved with the Browns is nothing more than myth. The entire Cuthbert story is a myth with no basis in fact.