Thursday, October 16, 2008

Schism

The quarrel between the St. Louis Brown Stocking and the St. Louis Sportsmen's Park and Club Association is at present monopolizing the attention of the fraternity. For this reason the past week was an unusually exiting and eventful one. When the trouble commenced each and every member of the Brown Stocking team pledged himself to be governed by the action of the club's officers. During the week, however, influences were brought to bear that led to the secession of a minority of the players, and the result has been the formation of two clubs, both of which will play this afternoon. The "reorganized" Browns will meet the Buckeyes of Cincinnati, at the Grand Avenue Park, while the original Browns will entertain the Atlantics of Brooklyn, at their grounds on Compton avenue. Mr. McHenry has placed his spacious park in superb condition, and the Browns have been practicing industriously all week, so that they may show the public that they are prepared to play as brilliantly as of old. They propose to retain the patronage of the public by doing even better work than that which earned such unprecedented attendance in the past. On Saturday and Sunday next the famous Eclipse Club, of Louisville, will visit the Browns, and that team will be followed by other professional organizations. In the interim those interesting tilts between the Browns and Reds that are pleasantly remembered by all who witnessed them will be resumed.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 9, 1881


My initial reaction to this article is to view the whole thing as a schism between the Spink brothers and the St. Louis Baseball Association on one side and Chris Von der Ahe and the Sportsmen's Park and Club Association on the other-the old Brown Stockings versus the new Brown Stockings-that resulted in Von der Ahe buying out the St. Louis Baseball Association at the end of the season. But certainly a little more information would be helpful.



2 comments:

Richard Hershberger said...

This is interesting. That game with the Atlantics of Brooklyn is largely unremarked nowadays, but of historical importance. The Atlantics tour was the first of an eastern non-League going west in several years. It was another sign of the end of the dark years, and I interpret it as a direct precursor to the creation of the AA. I didn't know that there was any controversy on the St. Louis side of things. I would be interested to learn more.

Jeff Kittel said...

The piece had me scratching my head for a bit and I wasn't sure exactly what to make of it. But when you combine this with the information from the previous post about the fallout between Solari and VdA, it paints a picture of VdA seizing control of the Brown Stockings and trying to get his house in order in advance of the formation of the AA.

The problem is that the organization and management of the club is a bit murky in 1881. You have the St. Louis Base Ball Club Association which essentially was the baseball club itself as well as the Sportsman's Park and Club Association which controlled the lease on the ballpark and also had a financial interest in the team. At the end of the 1881 season, VdA basically buys out the other investors in the Sportsman's Park Association. What exactly happens to the St. Louis Base Ball Club Association is unknown but I think basically they were forced out as VdA seized control of not just the ballpark but the Brown Stockings as well.

Interestingly, in the late 1890's as VdA is fighting off bankruptcy, he was making the argument that the club and park were separate entities and that the club was controlled by the St. Louis Base Ball Club Association rather than the Sportsman's Park Association. So VdA may have kept the club association alive while forcing out the Spink brothers and Solari.

Ned Cuthbert, who also was involved with the club association prior to VdA, appears to have sided with VdA in all of this.