Thursday, May 13, 2010

The End Of The Interregnum, Part Two

The base ball breeze alluded to in these columns on Sunday morning culminated in a storm, and the result is that the St. Louis Brown Stockings will play no more games at the Grand Avenue Park. Their organization will be maintained intact, however, and the team that has won thirty-one of the thirty-nine games played this season will continue to represent the Brown Stockings on the ball field. The players, whose names are as familiar as household words to the base ball loving public, and who have decided to cut loose from the Grand Avenue Association, are McGinnis, Baker, Gault, McDonald, J. Gleason, W. Gleason, Magner, McCaffrey, Seward, Morgan and Levis. One and all are agreed that the association has violated faith with them. Its officers, during the last forty-eight hours, have been moving heaven and earth to induce these fine players

To Desert Their Colors,

but have miserably failed, not meeting with success in a single instance. The Grand avenue officials knew that the pick of the local profession were to be found in the Brown Stocking ranks, and that without the aid of some of them they stood no earthly chance to give an exhibition against such an organization as the Brooklyn Atlantics as would attract a corporal’s guard of spectators. While vehicles were in great demand Sunday night and seductive offers many, players when found turned a deaf ear to all entreaties, and the Grand avenue folks found that the only way to place a team in the field was to select an entirely new corps of players from such material as had been discarded when the Brown Stocking organization was being formed. The attempt to swallow up the club at a gulp, as it were, thus proved abortive. The proposition of the association to oust the officers of an organization over which they never had the slightest control, that men of their own choice might fill the positions, received just such a response as its nature was sure to bring forth. As to the guarantees that were given visiting clubs, nothing need be said. They never resulted in the loss of a cent to the association, but on the other hand were paid for by the percentage of gate receipts that the Sportsman’s Club acknowledges having received. It would have been an easy matter for the Brown Stocking Club to have given guarantees itself and made no concession as to percentage, had it not been desirous of avoiding anything like a quarrel. As before stated, the Brown Stockings players are thoroughly in accord. In the list given above, the name of

Every Regular Member

of the team since its organization is to be found. The boys will carry out all present and future arrangements at the Compton Avenue Park, which is now, as it has been all season, in superb trim. There will be no change of dates owing to the clash, but the season’s programme will be carried out as originally arranged. It has been officially stated that the team which the Grand Avenue Association proposes to put in the field is to be called the Brown Stockings. This is a move worthy of its authors, but playing the national game under false pretenses won’t work. The base ball public of St. Louis is pretty well informed on this subject. It knows that a team which includes McGinnis, Baker, Gault, McDonald, the Gleason boys, Magner, Seward, McCaffrey, Morgan and Lewis represents the Brown Stocking Club, and no other. It will have no trouble in discerning between the bogus and the genuine Browns, and the records of wins and losses in future contests will also demonstrate that there is but one Brown Stocking Club in existence. The Browns will take the field against a first-class professional Club at the Compton Avenue Park on Saturday of this week. Their successors at the Grand Avenue Park-whoever they may be-are booked for games with the Atlantics to-day, to-morrow and Thursday, Manager Barnie having been given a guarantee of $300 for the three games. The Browns, at their meeting last night, signed a document reasserting their determination to remain together as of old.

-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, October 4, 1881

I hope to post some background information on the Interregnum and the very interesting 1881 season over the next couple of days before I start showing how this rather interesting turn of events in October of 1881 ties into things. The basic point I'm trying to get at (and taking my sweet time getting around to) is that the intrigue that we see here is directly related to the formation of the American Association. The argument I'm hoping to lay out is that Chris Von der Ahe forcibly seized control of the St. Louis professional baseball market and that the entry of the Browns into the AA was part of that.

I don't think this is anything really new or earth-shattering but it is interesting, specifically when we compare the machinations of the late summer/fall of 1881 to how Von der Ahe is normally perceived. It's fascinating to look at this and see a rather deliberate and Machiavellian Von der Ahe plotting and scheming and arranging things so that, in the end, he becomes the master of the St. Louis baseball market. This isn't the bumbling Von der Ha Ha Ha falling backwards into a nice situation but rather a smart and calculating businessman maneuvering to come out on top.

Hopefully, I'll pull this series of posts together and be able to show how all the pieces fit together.

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