The Press of (Cleveland) recently published an interview with Secretary Hawley, of the Cleveland League ball club, wherein that gentleman said he believed that the Brotherhood and Chris Von der Ahe, of the St. Louis Browns, had at the recent meeting in New York entered into an agreement through which that club was to take the place of Pittsburg in the Players League. After reading the interview Von der Ahe wrote to Hawley as follows:-The Washington Post, January 4, 1890
St. Louis. Dec. 29-You are greatly mistaken if you think that there is any understanding between the Brotherhood and myself. As I was in New York with Messrs. Whitaker and Lazarus at the time of the Brotherhood meeting, on my way to Rochester to reorganize the Association. I stopped off a few days to find out what was being done, as I was interested to such an extent that they were claiming some of my best men, and I wanted to find out what there was in that. I respect my name too much to do any such dishonorable act as playing a traitor to the association, which I was trying to build up again. I am not dependent on baseball as a livelihood. Also I always was in favor of the national agreement. As for being snubbed by the Brotherhood, as has been reported, I will say that I was never in the Fifth Avenue Hotel during their meeting. Chris. Von Der Ahe.
Nothing is ever cut and dried when it comes to Chris Von der Ahe. There's always nuance and contradiction and layers. And that's just the primary source material. I don't even want to talk about the secondary sources.
Here we have VdA explicitly stating that he was not negotiating with the Players League and that he was not even at the December 1889 meeting. This is in direct contradiction to the Post's article of December 19, 1889.
However, what else could Von der Ahe say at this point? Having attempted such a "dishonorable act" as moving the Browns to the PL and failing to do so, he had no real choice accept to deny that the machinations ever took place and that he was a loyal soldier all along. I guess he could have stood up and admitted what he was doing but what baseball magnate would have done that? These guys were always playing serious political games against each other and there was always some scheme within some plot within some plan. Von der Ahe was no different. He was always working some angle and he got caught working the PL angle.
But I guess it was easier to pull something like that in 1890 than it would be today. If Bill Dewitt tried to move the Cardinals to the Frontier League, got caught doing it, and then denied it ever happened, there would be an uproar across the internet and on ESPN.
Of course, the other way to look at this is that VdA is telling the truth here and the December 19, 1889 article was wrong. Or that there's truth and falsehood in both accounts. Or that I'm too tired to make heads or tales of this anymore.