Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The First Game

Grand Avenue Park presented a decidedly animated appearance yesterday afternoon, on the occasion of the opening base ball game of the season, between the red-legged champions of Boston, who, owing to their skillful play and gentlemanly deportment, were always prime favorites in St. Louis, and the Indianapolis Club, which has decided to make its home here for the remainder of the year. The crowd reminded one of old times, when the enthusiasm manifested for the National game was unbounded. While the park is not as large as in previous years, it is still amply sufficient for all practical purposes, and the "diamond," thanks to Superintendent Solari, is in perfect condition. Nothing is lacking to make the visitor comfortable, and the seating capacity is equal to anything but an extraordinary emergency. That great interest is still taken in the game was manifested by the presence of so many spectators from all branches of life, and the demonstrative manner in which they received the rival athletes...Clapp, Croft and Flint were quickly recognized, and each was accorded an ovation...The Reds won the toss, and after the third inning had everything their own way, having all the luck and the best of the umpiring...It was evidently an off day for the Hoosiers, six of whom could do nothing with the stick, while all except Croft, Flint, Shaefer and Williamson were shaky in the field...No brilliant play was exhibited on either side outside of the pitching and catching, which was a model display, and a fine catch each by Leonard and Warner. While a majority of the spectators would have preferred seeing the Bostons beaten, the applause was distributed in an impartial manner.

The disagreeable feature of the contest was the boorish conduct of Burdock, who, as usual, had more to say than all others pub together, and who, by his idiotic shouting, endeavored to disconcert the opposing players at critical points of the struggle. His appeals to the umpire were based on the most childish pretexts imaginable, and the respectable people present were surprised that Harry Wright did not sit down on him.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 10, 1878

Boston won the first game of the series, 6-3.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blogger Has Gone All Wonky

For some reason, my scheduled posts have not been published as scheduled the last three days. No idea why except that Blogger is a touchy little application that I've grow tired of. Don't be surprised if one day I move this whole operation over to WordPress. But in the meantime, I have to start paying attention to things a little more closely than I usually do.

Bottom line: Google is evil.

The St. Louis Club

How St. Louis Thumped Cincinnati
[From the Cincinnati Enquirer.]

The first League series of twelve games to be finished this season is the Cincinnati-Indianapolis (or St. Louis) series, which ended last Saturday. The result was eight games won by the St. Louis Club to four by the Cincinnatis.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 9, 1878

The implication is that the Cincinnati paper was referring to the Indianapolis club as "the St. Louis Club." Of course, this could have been creative editing by the Globe.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Their Future Home

The lovers of out-door sports, should the weather prove fine, will, in all probablility, fill the Grand Avenue Park to its utmost capacity this afternoon, on the occasion of the first professional base ball game of the season, which is to be called promptly at 3:30 o'clock. The contest is for the League championship, and the contestants, the Boston and Indianapolis, or rather St. Louis clubs, two of the strongest organizations in the arena. Clapp and his comrades arrived in the city yesterday morning, and the Bostons, who played at Peoria yesterday, will reach here on an early train. Both nines are in splendid trim. The Bostons must win to-day to retain first place in the race for the championship, and as the Indianapolitans naturally desire to create a favorable impression on their first appearance in their future home, the struggle will be a desperate one, and should be witnessed by all who take an interest in the national game.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 9, 1878

A couple of thoughts:

-Putting the situation in context, it should be remembered that St. Louis had placed teams in the NA and the NL during the previous three seasons and had seen some success in 1875 and 1876. The 1877 season was a disaster for several reasons and the Brown Stockings folded in difficult circumstances. Indianapolis and Boston came to town the following season, which was the first since 1874 that St. Louis hadn't fielded a major league club.

-I really can't speak to the intentions of the Indianapolis Club and what their plans. What I can say is that this series was being sold as the first home games of a new St. Louis League Club. Was Indianapolis selling the St. Louis public a bill of goods? Don't know. Was the Globe misrepresenting the situation? Maybe. Was their a deal that fell apart? Possible-and I'll get to that later.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Indianapolis Will Finish The Season In St. Louis

I've been having an interesting email conversation with Lenny DiFranza about St. Louis ballparks and, in the course of this conversation, the subject of Indianapolis playing three "home" games at the Grand Avenue Park against Boston in 1878 came up. I had seen the box scores for at least one of the games before but never did anything with the information. Taking a more in depth look at what was going on, it appears the situation was a bit more interesting than Indianapolis simply playing three games in St. Louis. Over the next few days, I'll post what I found. I'd also be happy to get any input that I can on the situation in Indianapolis.

Mr. Frank N. Scott has been sent by the managers of the Indianapolis Base Ball Club to this city, charged with the soliciting of subscriptions from parties here and the selling of season tickets. It appears, too, if the report in the Pittsburg Gazette is true, that Mr. R.E. McKelvey, of the Indianapolis Club, has been sent to Pittsburg to arrange for the transfer of the nine to that place. At the same time that these agents of the club are at work in St. Louis and Pittsburg, the Indianapolis people are given to understand that the club will still play several games there after it leaves for another diamond field of usefulness. Under the circumstances it would be well for parties in St. Louis to abstain from subscribing or purchasing season tickets until the Indianapolis Club give a guarantee that their nine will play all their Western engagements in this city, and no where else. The tickets which were sold in Indianapolis at the beginning of the season are now useless to the purchasers, although the season is not half over, and St. Louisans should not be placed in the same box. The patrons of the game would be pleased to have the Indianapolis Club come here, and will without doubt support it more liberally than any city in the Union if it plays to win all the time. The President of the club has been assured of this fact, and the Directors should rest content with the gate receipts until such a time as they state emphatically that they intend remaining here throughout the season, and desist from leading the Pittsburg and Indianapolis people to believe that only such games will be played here as may suit their convenience. If the Indianapolis folks do not like the terms, the Milwaukee Club has given notice that it will jump at them.

Mr. Scott...stated positively that the club would finish the remainder of the League season in St. Louis, and that McKelvey's mission to Pittsburg was not authorized by President Pettit...Twenty League games, he says, will be played on the Grand avenue grounds, and the purchaser of a season ticket will be assigned a reserved seat, which will be set apart for his exclusive use. The seating capacity of the grounds, as remodeled, is estimated at 2,000 and there will be ample room for all. Aside from the objectionable feature of the transfer alluded to above, the Indianapolis Club deserves well of the St. Louis public, as i playing strength it ranks with the best, and includes several home players who were always great favorites.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 3, 1878

Indianapolis played three games in St. Louis against Boston on July 9, 11, and 13 in 1878. Al Spink, writing in The National Game, mentioned that he was involved in bringing the Indianapolis club to St. Louis to play a few games but that the enterprise was a failure due to poor attendance. He portrayed the games as an attempt to revive interest in major league baseball in St. Louis.

However, it looks like what we have is an Indianapolis club that was struggling financially and looking for ways to increase revenue. If they weren't drawing well at home (and B-Ref doesn't have any attendance data for the club), it seems likely that Indianapolis may have been looking around for somewhere else to play their home games. St. Louis was a logical choice for several reasons. First, the city had proved to be a baseball hotbed but at the moment was lacking a major league club. Secondly, Indianapolis had Art Croft, Silver Flint and John Clapp on the club. Croft and Flint were St. Louis natives and Clapp had played for the Brown Stockings. If the Indianapolis club was looking to "move" than St. Louis would have been a good place for them to "relocate" to.

And this is how the games were being sold to the St. Louis public. They were being told that the Indianapolis club was now going to play its home games in St. Louis and that it was now the "St. Louis Club." As you'll see over the next couple of days, the team, for a short period of time, was actually being referred to as the "St. Louis Club" and it took awhile for people to realize that the team had not, in fact, "relocated" to St. Louis.

Friday, June 26, 2009

More On The Lucas (Amateur) Nine

Mr. Henry V. Lucas, of the St. Louis Union Club, is a great lover of the National game and is probably the only base ball president in the country who ever plays himself. All last season he kept up a club known as the Lucas amateurs, at his own expense, and played third base on the nine himself, and played it well, too. At his beautiful suburban home in Normandy he had a fine ball ground laid out on his estate and had comfortable seats erected for the accommodation of a couple of thousand of people. On days when games were played he invited out a number of friends from the city and at the conclusion of the game they were treated to an elegant spread prepared under the supervision of his charming wife.
-The Cleveland Herald, April 22, 1884

The rich are different from you and me. They have more money, form their own baseball clubs and leagues, and build ballparks on their estates.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Season Tickets Are Now Ready

Season tickets for the games at Union Park are now ready for circulation and can be obtained at the office of Henry V. Lucas, at the corner of Fourth and Pine streets. The seats in the best part of the grand stand are to be numbered and sold in regular rotation, the first comers being the first served. There will be fifty-six championship games, and the season tickets entitling the holder to admission and reserved seat to all of these will be sold until April 19 at $22...Besides the reserved seats, season tickets for the field and open seats will be sold for $11...This is the cheapest base ball ever offered local patrons.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 30, 1884

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

More On The Anheuser-Busch/Union Association Link

The Union Association was essentially a Western organization...Messrs. Lucas, Wainwright, and the Busch Anheiser Brewing Company, of St. Louis, are moving spirits in the Association...

A gentleman residing in St. Louis, who is intimately acquainted with Mr. Henry V. Lucas, the president and organizer of the new anti-league St. Louis team, to-day assured me that Mr. Lucas is not shouldering the costly team that has been engaged for that city. Said this gentleman: "I have reason to think-I might almost say I know positively-that the new St. Louis enterprise is secretly backed by a big brewing company. I believe that same concern is backing the Chicago Union scheme, and, in fact, is the main support of all the Union Association clubs. Beer-selling is to be a feature of all the games, and the brewing companies probably expect to make enough money out of the sale of beer to pay the cost of supporting the ball clubs."
-The Cleveland Herald, December 17, 1883

I certainly don't consider this confirmation of Anheuser-Busch's involvement with Lucas, the UA and the Maroons but I'm having fun trying to run this down. At this point, I honestly don't believe that A-B was involved in the financing of the UA but I'm keeping an open mind. The most I'm willing to say at this point is that Adolphus Busch was probably interested in Lucas' baseball venture and the two may have talked about the brewery investing in one or more clubs.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Quick Note On Ellis Wainwright

Ellis Wainwright's name has been getting kicked around here the last couple of days and David, in a comment, mentioned that the man's name might actually be Elias Wainwright. I, as usual, had no real clue what I was talking about and had to go back and check things out. It was possible that I got the name wrong while typing up the post or that the Globe had the name wrong to begin with. So being the curious monkey that I am, I went and did the old ProQuest search on Ellis Wainwright.

Ellis Wainwright was born around 1850 and was the president of the Wainwright Brewing Company in St. Louis. He was a rather prominent member of St. Louis society and was involved with the art museum and the public library. Wainwright was also a member of the St. Louis Club and the Veiled Prophet association. In his obituary, it was mentioned that he was one of the wealthiest men in St. Louis.

There can be no doubt that he moved in the same social circle as Henry Lucas and appears to have been friends with several members of the Union Club. Interestingly, he was caught up in the "boodle" scandal along with Union Club member Charles Hunt Turner. While there doesn't appear to be much of a connection between Wainwright and baseball, he was a bit of a sportsman and was particularly involved in horse racing in St. Louis.

I did find two instances in the Globe where Ellis Wainwright was referred to as Elias but in each instance it was clear that the person in question was Ellis Wainwright. Another source that came up when searching "Elias Wainwright" was actually a reference to Ellis Wainwright and was simply an error in the soundex due to the similarities in the name.

Based on the information at hand, I have no doubt that Ellis Wainwright was one of the early backers of Henry Lucas and the Maroons. Any references to Elias Wainwright is merely a typographical error or an understandable misreading of the source material.

Edit: While I'm at it, David also mentioned that there may be references to Lucas' UA plan in the press outside of St. Louis in the summer of 1883. So far the earliest references to the plan that I see in the press comes in October 1883. The New York Times has a story on October 25 that they apparently picked up from the Globe. Earlier St. Louis references to Lucas and baseball have to do with the amateur Lucas Nine rather than to the Union club. However, if Lucas was announcing his plans in October or if the story was breaking then, certainly it's safe to assume that Lucas' plan was in development prior to that. If that's the case then it's possible that there may be earlier references to it and I'll continue searching for them.

The Intention Of The New League

"The intention of the new League is to break down this (reserve) rule in a measure," said Mr. Lucas, "by affording players an opportunity of escape from its rigid conditions. We propose to pay first-class men first-class salaries, and if one place can afford to pay a good man more than another, why let him go where he can earn the most money. We don't care to make a wagon-load of wealth at the expense of the players, but are willing to let them share our prosperity."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 13, 1883

Monday, June 22, 2009

The New Club

The new club has formed (in St. Louis) with some $15,000 capital. Henry W. Lucas, a millionaire and prominent business man, is at the head, with Anheuser Busch Brewing Company as second stockholders. Mr. Lucas subscribes $6,000 to the stock. They have outside parties interested, it is rumored. They have secured very central grounds at Twenty-fifth and Biddle streets, about a mile closer to the city than the old grounds...They will enter the new Union League and the papers have been forwarded for that purpose.
-The Cleveland Herald, October 26, 1883

The reference to Anheuser-Busch's involvement in the Maroons is unconfirmed but very interesting given their later involvement in St. Louis baseball. There are other reports that Lucas' main partner in the club was Ellis Wainwright and the conventional wisdom, of course, is that Lucas ran the whole show, both club and league.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The First Hint Of Lucas' Plan

For some time past rumors of a new local base ball organization have been in circulation, but nothing beyond vague intimations of undefined efforts to revive the old Stocks Park as an active ball field came to the surface. That there were efforts in that direction is vouched for by persons who were solicited to interest themselves in the project. That they have been discontinued is vouched for by persons who were solicited to interest themselves in the project. That they have been discontinued is quite probable from the fact that nothing has been heard of them recently. Another movement, and one of recent origin, has, however, assumed a tangible form, and the Globe-Democrat is able to state positively that a new base ball club, with wealthy and liberal backing, is assured, and a plot of ground, 500 by 400 feet, situated on the southeast corner of Jefferson avenue and Dayton street, has been secured as the field of operations. The organization is not yet perfected, and will not be for a few weeks, but another month will see it established on a firm basis, and bidding for first-class base ball talent. Mr. Henry V. Lucas and a number of other young men of means and enterprise will control the new organization.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 23, 1883

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Lucas Nine

The St. Louis Athletics will go out to Normandy this afternoon to play the Lucas nine, and will make a grand effort to get even with the country lads, who a short time ago defeated them...Mr. Henry Lucas has left for the East and Geo. E. Cassilly will captain the Normandy team in his absence.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, September 9, 1883

The Pony Reds, who have defeated the Grand Avenues, Florissants and the best amateur clubs in the country, will take the Narrow Gauge Road for Lucas Station this afternoon and indulge in some leather hunting with Henry Lucas' pets at Normandy. The game will be an interesting exhibition of the national pastime as well as one of the hottest contests of the season in the amateur arena...
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 7, 1883

This afternoon Henry Lucas' champion amateur sluggers played the Blues of (Lebanon, Illinois), and were beaten by a score of 12 to 6. The game was the finest ever played in (Lebanon).
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 16, 1883

I think the point of all of this is to show that Lucas had an interest in baseball prior to the formation of the Maroons and the Union Association. It appears that he not only had put together an amateur club but was also a player on that club.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Some Specifics About The Wealth Of The Lucas Family

There's an interesting article in the January 4, 1880 edition of the Globe-Democrat that provides a list of people who paid taxes on property valued at over $25, 000. Essentially, it's a list of the wealthiest landowners in St. Louis. On the list are numerous names connected to the history of St. Louis baseball. The Cabanne family, the Carrs, the Turners, and Rufus Lackland all had ties to the Union Club while Samuel Davis was the father of Cyclone Club member Jonathan Davis.

What really stands out is the wealth of the Lucas family. Henry Lucas owned property valued at $257, 580, J. B. C. Lucas $290, 810, and Robert Lucas $289, 920. Six members of the family were among the twenty wealthiest landowners in St. Louis. And those numbers don't include property owned outside of the city or any other investments.

While I'm talking about the Lucas family, I might as well point out something that I don't think I've ever mentioned. The family was involved in St. Louis baseball in one form or another across three decades. Robert Lucas was a player for the first nine of the Union Club for several years in the 1860s, J. B. C. Lucas was the president of the Brown Stockings in the 1870s, and Henry Lucas was the president of the Maroons and the founder of the Union Association in the 1880s.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Partition Of The Lucas Estate

In June, 1875, the Circuit Court appointed, at the suggestion of the heirs and devisees of James H. Lucas, Messrs. George S. Drake, Isaac H. Kelm and Julius Pitzman, Commissioners, to divide the lands belonging to said estate in eight parts or shares, of equal value, and to apportion the same amongst his children, namely: William Lucas, John B. C. Lucas, Nancy L. Johnson, wife of Dr. John B. Johnson, Robert J. Lucas, Elizabeth L. Hager, wife of John S. Hager, of San Francisco, James D. Lucas, Joseph D. Lucas and Henry V. Lucas. This partition includes all the lands belonging to said estate, situated in Iron County, Reynolds County, Ripley County and St. Louis County, of all the unimproved lots in the City of St. Louis, and of some central property not heretofore disposed of by Mr. Lucas.

Several years prior to his death, Mr. Lucas provided for his family by conveying his elegant residence on Lucas Place, two new stores on the west side of Fourth street, between Olive and Locust streets, and three large stores at the northeast corner of Fourth and Locust streets, to his wife, and by conveying most of his improved property to his children in equal parts, but the improved property in the central part of the city included in the partition was not divided by Mr. Lucas in his lifetime on account of the difficulty of making a perfect and equitable division...

The total value of the estate divided in this partition amounts to about $3, 500, 000, according to the estimate of the Commissioners.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, April 23, 1876

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Bitter August Solari

Up to about a year ago August Solari was the proprietor of the Grand Avenue Park which, under his management, was not an overpowering success, and an association was formed last spring known as the St. Louis Sportsman's Park and Club Association, with Chris Von der Ahe as President. Under the new auspices the place became popular and successful, which fact it appears did not please Mr. Solari, who threw impediments into the way of the club, and resorted to some means of ruffling the feathers of the club at large and Von der Ahe in particular. He caused them trouble about their liquor license and about their shooting privileges, but was usually checkmated. As a final piece of spitework, the clubmen say, he erected a high fence on the grounds in front of Von der Ahe's house, to shut out the view of the park to that gentleman's family, and caused the arrest of Von der Ahe on a charge of making false affidavits on a question of resident tenants in the vicinity of the park. Yesterday the case came up in the Court of Criminal Correction. On a motion to quash, the motion was sustained and charge dismissed, Solari thus scoring another defeat.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, July 31, 1881

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trouble With The Bookkeeper

Ernest Rother, late book-keeper in the grocery store of Von der Ahe, of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, was arrested in (Columbus, Ohio) to-day on a telegram from the Chief of Police of St. Louis, asking that he be detained on a charge of embezzlement. Rother waived all formalities of a requisition, and left with an officer this evening on his return to St. Louis. He states that he does not know what the special charges can be against him, though there is nothing wrong with his accounts or books, and he can make the matter clear when he arrives. He thinks the arrest was made through the connivance of his enemies.

Rother was on his way to Germany. While in (Columbus) he sent for James Williams, late manager of the St. Louis Club, who visited him at the prison and heard his story of the alleged outrage.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 1, 1884

Ernest Rother, late book-keeper and cashier for Chris Von der Ahe, arrived in the city yesterday morning from Columbus in charge of an officer under charge of embezzlement. The prisoner was placed in the holdover to await further developments, where he was interviewed in reference to the charge by a Globe-Democrat reporter yesterday. According to his statement he had been in Mr. Von der Ahe's employ a little over two years, handling in the mean time about $150,000. The books and accounts of both the grocery and Base Ball Park were kept by him. Sometimes the account overran and sometimes it was short, but Rother says he is positive that it was not out of balance more than ten times during his service. The greatest shortage was $100; he does not remember what the largest surplus was...

The difficulty which induced him to quit Von der Ahe originated in his employer opening a letter addressed to him by a lady friend. When he went away he said he parted on the best of terms with his employer, who promised to keep his situation open for him. The first intimation he had of any trouble was at Columbus, where he was spending a short visit with James Williams. When Williams showed him a telegram from Von der Ahe, accusing him of stealing, he told him he would take the next train back to St. Louis. The train was two hours late, otherwise he would have arrived here without an officer Tuesday night. As it was, he was placed under arrest when he went to get his trunks rechecked, and readily consented to come on without requisition. Said he: "If I am $2,000 short in my accounts, I do not know it."
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 2, 1884

Monday, June 15, 2009

An Inadvertent Fireworks Display

About noon yesterday the pipe of the stove in the fireworks house at the Sportsman's Park fell and threw hot embers among the pyrotechnics stored there, setting fire to them. Several small explosions occurred, but none of them were of any consequence. The building and contents were entirely destroyed. The loss on the building was $200 and on the stock $1,500. There is no insurance on either building or stock, both the property of the Sportsman's Park Association. The building was erected on a permit issued by the Commissioner of Public Buildings, calling for the erection of a storehouse. It was obtained by Congressman-elect O'Neil for Mr. Chris Von der Ahe. When it was ascertained that the building was to be used for storing and manufacturing fireworks material, several citizens called upon the Commissioner of Public Buildings and endeavored to induce that official to revoke the permit. No action, however, was taken by the Commissioner.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, December 31, 1882

In his entry on fireworks in A Game of Inches, Peter Morris notes that Von der Ahe "initiated the use of fireworks at the ballpark..." Morris cites Hetrick's book but checking the reference it says that "Once a week (in 1882), revelers could enjoy dancing to their hearts' content as fireworks burst overhead from a bamboo Japanese cannon." No mention of fireworks at a ballgame.

Prof. Wm. Hand will give a closing display of fireworks at Sportsman's Park to-morrow evening, and a brilliant programme is promised. Amongst the sets are the mammoth battle scene and the base-ball set, with motto. Miss Hand, who is reputed as the only female pyrotechnic expert in America, will fire the pieces.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, November 5, 1882

This somewhat confirms Hetrick's statement about fireworks at Sportsman's Park but we still have nothing on fireworks at a game. I'm going to try to run this down and see what else I can find. I'll certainly post anything relevant or interesting.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Wild West Show Comes To Sportsman's Park

Buffalo Bill's Wild West show met with a large and flattering reception at Sportsman's Park yesterday afternoon. This exhibition is certainly one of the most realistic and instructive shows ever seen in any country...The rifle shooting and horsemanship of the handsome Buffalo Bill excites the admiration of all. Sitting Bull, the renowned Sioux Chief, looking unconcerned and stately as a veritable king, was observed of all observers. The Indians in their many colored costumes and war paint, the dashing appearance of the hunters, trappers and cowboys, the many beautiful horses, the hunters' camp, with its tents and backwoods appliances, all pleased and inspired the vast audience, and for the time being gave the impression that it was in reality living amongst the scenes of which the show was only a tableau vivant. Too much can not be said in favor of this grand entertainment. Every man, woman and child in the country should see it, not only as a means of an hour or two's amusement, but as a matter of historical education. To those most skeptical as to the merits of the Wild West, one visit to it will be a revelation and make them warmest friends in its praise. There will be a performance this afternoon and then daily performances during the remainder of the week.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 4, 1885

Two grand attractions for one admission price are offered at the park to-day. Buffalo Bill's Wild West will give its regular performance, including Sitting Bull and his staff of chiefs, and a game of base ball will be played between the St. Louis champion Browns and the Cincinnatis. Game will be called at 2:30 in the afternoon, and at its conclusion the great Wild West show will be given complete.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 11, 1885

I always figured that if I could go back in time and see one game it would be the May 6, 1875 game between the Brown Stockings and Chicago, when St. Louis beat the White Stockings 10-0 and the city went nuts. I believe it's the most significant game in the history of St. Louis baseball. But if I can only go back in time once, how could I pass up the opportunity to see the Four Time Champions (even if at this point they were only the One Time Champions and they were only playing an exhibition) and Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Who wouldn't want to see that?

I'm sure somewhere Von der Ahe has been mocked as the guy who brought in the Wild West Show and had horses and buffalo running around on his ball field but this was a brilliant business move. You have a wildly popular, championship baseball club coming off the most successful season in St. Louis baseball history combined with the most successful touring show the nation had ever seen. Off the top of my head, I'd guess that the baseball game/Wild West Show double header drew a pretty good crowd.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Augustus Charles Bernays And Baseball At McKendree College

(Augustus Charles Bernays) spent considerable time in the college gymnasium, and took part in some of the public exhibitions given there. He was fond of outdoor sports, and joined the first base ball club organized at McKendree College. When Bernays received the degree of Bachelor of Arts on June 13, 1872, he lacked four months of being eighteen years old. He was the youngest member of his class and one of the youngest graduates in the history of McKendree College.
-from Augustus Charles Bernays by Thekla Bernays

McKendree College (which is now known as McKendree University) is located in Lebanon, Illinois and is about fifteen or twenty miles east of St. Louis. Established in 1828 as a Methodist seminary, it is the oldest college in Illinois.

According to Connie Nisinger, Bernays was one of "the nation's most eminent surgeons of his time...(and was) famous as a contributor to the literature of anatomy and surgery...Dr. Bernays performed the first successful Caesarian section in St. Louis in 1889. He went on to perform the first successful coeliotomy (organ or body cavity surgery) and the first successful gallstone operations in Missouri. Bernays was made Professor of Anatomy in the College of Physicians and Surgeons of St. Louis before the age of 29." He was certainly an interesting guy and his biography has a bunch of entertaining stories about life in the St. Louis area during the antebellum era.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Redmond's Whereabouts Is Unknown

I'm back from my little sabbatical and feeling much refreshed. Hope you didn't miss me too much.

The following is from an article that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal in June of 1895 regarding former major league players:

(John) Peters is connected with the water department in St. Louis.

(Daniel) Morgan is a successful businessman in St. Louis.

(Billy) Redmond's whereabouts is unknown

Billy Redmond was actually dead. Based on Peter Morris' research, we now know that Redmond, who had been working in St. Louis as a bricklayer, died on either April 2 or 3, 1894 and was buried at St. Matthew's Cemetery in St. Louis. His last name, and that of the other family members buried near him, is spelled "Redmon" in the cemetery records and on the tombstones.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Von der Ahe's Plan

Mr. Christ. Von der Ahe's plan for a joint stock company, to be known as the St. Louis Sportsman's Association, has found such favor with the fraternity as to assure its being carried out.  Articles of incorporation will be applied for on Monday or Tuesday, and the work of improving the club grounds on Grand avenue will be proceeded with at once.  Mr. Von der Ae has secured a lease of the Grand Avenue Base Ball Park, as it was in the professional days, the strip that was cut off about three years ago having been again added thereto.  The park will, therefore, be the most commodious in the country and will be admirably adapted to athletic sports of every description.  A cricket field, dept in order throughout the season, a base ball diamond, cinder paths for "sprinters," a hand ball court, bowling alleys and everything of that sort will be laid out and constructed, comfortable accommodations for spectators will be erected, and nothing will be left undone to make the institution a model of its kind.  $2,500 will probably be spent in the work of improvement.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, March 20, 1881

More then ten years before he built New Sportsman's Park, Von der Ahe was already thinking of a ballpark as something more than a place to play baseball.  As he began his foray into major league baseball, Von der Ahe was thinking in terms of a multi-sport facility that could generate revenue year round and wasn't simply dependent upon a ball club.    He was a visionary businessman who was ahead of his time when it came to using a ball club and ballpark to generate ancillary revenue and he was roundly mocked and attacked for his ideas.  In an age with hotels, restaurants and bars attached to ballparks, not to mention waterfalls in centerfield and hot tubs in the bleachers, it's safe to say that Von der Ahe's vision was been accepted as a conventional business practice.  

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Baseball Without License

"St. Louis Sportsman's Park and Club (Christ. Von der Ahe)" was read on the docket of the Second District Police Court yesterday, and after it, under the head of "Alleged Offenses," the words "Base ball, cricket, etc., without license."  Lovers of sport assembled to hear all about it, but they were disappointed, for the case was continued until the 12th, next Wednesday.
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 9, 1881

So I guess Von der Ahe didn't bother to get a business license for the operation of Sportsman's Park.  I couldn't find anything else about the case and I'm assuming, given Von der Ahe's political connections, that the entire thing went away.  

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mr. Von Der Ahe Understands But Little About Baseball

Manager Sullivan, of the St. Louis Club, yesterday asked President Von Der Ahe for his release.  On Wednesday, when the Metropolitans were batting hard, the President requested Manager Sullivan to change the pitchers.  The manager refused to do so, saying: "It's no use now.  The Mets have a deciding lead."  After the game, it is said, the President spoke harshly to the manager.  "I have brought this club up to its present standing," said Mr. Sullivan yesterday, "and it is hard, after putting it in a fair way to win the championship, to be treated thus badly.  Mr. Von Der Ahe understands but little about base-ball, and if I had obeyed all of his orders during the season, the club would be nearer the foot than the head in the race."
-New York Times, August 31, 1883

While this account of Sullivan's resignation as Browns' manager is essentially correct, several details have been left out.  About two weeks previous to this, Pat Deasley and Fred Lewis got drunk, assaulted Sullivan, and spent the night in jail.  This story leaked to the press and the Browns had a PR problem on their hands, especially after everybody involved denied the story and were proved to be disingenuous.  The Post-Dispatch started digging and published numerous stories of fights and drunkenness involving Browns' players.  As the Browns were in the process of falling out of first place and losing the pennant, the Post was hammering them about the conduct of their players and stating that a lack of discipline was costing the club a championship.  

Von der Ahe and Sullivan's relationship was already strained after Sullivan refused to support Von der Ahe's fining of Arlie Latham in late July.  After the manager again defied his boss during the New York game and the club again lost, Von der Ahe decided to conduct a surprise curfew check and found most of the players absent from their rooms.  He went to confront Sullivan about the situation and that's when a screaming match broke out and Von der Ahe "spoke harshly" to Sullivan.  

In Before They Were Cardinals, Jon David Cash has the Post's take on Sullivan's resignation:

It is announced from New York that Sullivan has withdrawn from the management of the St. Louis club.  The reasons for the withdrawal are alleged to be dissensions in the club, some accounts of which have already been given by the Post-Dispatch, and the truth of which are pretty well proven to by the final result.  It is also stated that President Von der Ahe took Sullivan to task for not enforcing stricter discipline, and that a stormy scene occurred between the two men.  Sullivan, at any rate, has withdrawn, and his place is filled for the present by Charley Comiskey.

So basically Sullivan is letting the players run wild, the team is losing, and he can't get along with his boss but, in the New York Times, Von der Ahe is the bad guy (based on the testimony of Sullivan).  Of course Von der Ahe shouldn't have been interfering in game decisions and his fining of Latham in late July was uncalled for but Sullivan's real failure was his inability to deal with Von der Ahe.  History has glossed over Sullivan's failures and his resignation as Browns' manager has become part of the Von der Ahe myth.  Von der Ahe is the guy who tried to force his manager to change pitchers in the middle of the game rather than the guy who had problems with a manager who had a championship-caliber club but was letting the pennant slip away because he couldn't maintain discipline.  Sullivan is the hero who resigned with honor rather than a failed manager.  

I think that most of us have had demanding bosses as well as bosses who were erratic in their demands.  As an employee, it's part of your job to deal with that and, to a certain extent, manage your boss.  Sullivan was unable to do this and, if he didn't resign, he probably would have been fired.  One of the strengths of the man who replaced Sullivan, Charles Comiskey, was his ability to manage Von der Ahe.  He established a relationship with his boss that grew over time and Von der Ahe came to trust and respect Comiskey.  A good manager manages people and Sullivan doesn't appear to have been particularly good at that especially in comparison to Comiskey.              

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Griswold Back In New York

Glassmaker's Clay-Evens & Howard's
Cheltenham Fire Clay, of Missouri, used for
years in St. Louis, Cincinnati, Pittsburg, &c.  For Sale
Merritt W. Griswold
sole agent, 101 Maiden Lane, N.Y.
-Boston Daily Advertiser, August 8, 1863

We know that Griswold was still in St. Louis in August of 1861 when he mustered out of the Home Guards and we know that at some point he moved back east.  However, we don't know exactly when he returned to New York or under what circumstances.  Actually, there's quite a bit about Griswold that we don't know but that's neither here nor there.  The point of all of this is to show that Griswold was in New York by August of 1863 and, having already set up a business, had most likely been in the city for at least a few months.  Therefore, we can state that sometime between August of 1861 and the summer of 1863, Griswold left St. Louis and moved back to New York.  

I had always assumed that Griswold left St. Louis during the war years to escape the chaotic political and military situation and return to a more familiar and normal setting.  And it certainly looks like he did leave St. Louis during the war.  But the more I think about it, the less comfortable I am saying he left because of the war.  Certainly, St. Louis was not an enjoyable place to be during the Civil War.  The city was under martial law and the threat of attack by Confederate forces.  The population was divided and there was a large number of Confederate sympathisers in the city.  And Missouri itself was a battleground, just as divided as St. Louis.  Griswold's experience in St. Louis as a Yankee outsider in a militantly divided, slave-owning city may not have been particularly pleasant.  

But then it dawned on me that New York wasn't exactly a calm oasis during the war years and was probably just as divided as St. Louis.  You had the draft riots and talk of making New York some kind of neutral, free and open city.  New York certainly wasn't a Republican, pro-Union stronghold.  So if Griswold was trying to escape from the chaos of the war, he probably shouldn't have moved back to New York.  

In the end, the question of why Griswold left St. Louis remains unanswered.   

Monday, June 1, 2009

Football And Shinny

The following communication will be devoured with great avidity by our sporting readers, particularly those lovers of the manly game of football, of whom our city boasts so large a number:

Mr. Editor:  On Friday last...arrived in St. Louis, by the Alton packet, Phelim O'Murphy, the world's champion of football...On Saturday he was waited upon by a deputation of St. Louis football players, who invited him to a trial of skill...Measures have been taken to form a football club under the artistic instructions of O'Murphy.  The enthusiasm for this scientific sport is rapidly increasing...
-Daily Missouri Republican, October 25, 1858

Our review of the past week contains interesting meetings for mumble peg, marbles, peg top, shinny, &c.  The weather has been more propitious, the oppressive heat of midsummer having given way to a delightful touch of autumn, making out-door games beautiful and pleasant.
A very interesting match at shinny was played on Tuesday afternoon, at Washington Square, between the Hickory and Chiukapin clubs.  The beautiful weather, together with the noted reputation of the players, brought on the grounds a large number of spectators, among whom we noticed a fair sprinkling of ladies.  The play on both sides was very good indeed...Chiukapin won the match, having scored seventeen "homes" to only thirteen of their opponents.
-Daily Missouri Republican, August 23, 1858 

These references to outdoor sports are noted simply to illustrate the sporting culture that existed in St. Louis during the antebellum era.  The New York game in St. Louis didn't develop in a vacuum.  It's popularity and success can be traced to the fact that it was introduced into a well-developed and healthy sporting culture.