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.


David Ball said...

It's interesting that the Herald describes Lucas' club as "anti-League," although the organization it would compete against most directly was Von der Ahe's AA team. The Herald was known as the organ of Cleveland's NL club, and from the League viewpoint the involvement of a brewery would be a disreputable black eye for the Unions.

I myself have read press reports about the involvement of Wainwright and also Anheuser Busch with Lucas, but only early on, when Lucas' club was just forming. Does that mean the involvement of the beer men was something exaggerated or even invented by the Herald and other anti-Union sources? Were they involved early, but pulled out? Did they remain as minor investors, or even major but silent partners? I don't know, although I doubt the last option is true, because I've followed in some detail the last stages of Lucas' involvement in the club (he pulled out in midsummer of 1886, leaving it to others to finish up) and I don't think the beer men's names come up then.

Jeffrey Kittel said...

One of the people Lucas sold out to in 1886 was Espenschied, his brother in law, and when looking at the material in 1883 I remember seeing his name mentioned. So it's likely that Lucas had minor investors in the club, including the brother in law, Wainwright and A-B.

My general thinking is that for the most part the investers mentioned were, as you said, involved early and pulled out. There doesn't seem to be much evidence of their involvement from 1884 onward. It makes sense for Lucas to be looking for partners and investers in the early stages of the project and it's also understandable that this would get leaked to the press inorder to lend credability to the enterprise.

As to being anti-League, I think it would be more fair to describe the UA as being anti-National Agreement. In that sense, it would certainly make them anti-League.