Chris Von der Ahe recited his base ball valedictory in Judge Spencer's court [on January 19.] For two hours he occupied the witness stand and explained his complicated role of president of the St. Louis Base Ball Association, owner of the St. Louis Club League franchise, and president of Sportsman's Park and club, which operated the club. Al Spink was the first witness called and testified to the organization of the St. Louis Base Ball Association, by his brother, James Pennoyer and himself. He conducted the Browns during the summer of 1881 and then transferred their interest to Von der Ahe.
Von Der Ahe's Claims.
"Der Boss" then took the stand and continued the story. He told how it was through his personal efforts the American Association of Base Ball Clubs was formed. He insisted that Sportsman's Park and Club cut no figure with his American Association team. Finally he came to what he termed the "promulgation the National League and American Association." In answer to questions, Von der Ahe stated that improvements on the new ball grounds represented an outlay of $59,555. Von der Ahe further testified that the Sportsman's Park and Club never had a bank account; that the directors were his closest personal friends; that he named them; that not one of them ever advanced money to help the club, and that he himself had advanced over $100,000, which the corporation owed him.
The destruction of the books of the Sportsman's Park and Club in the fire last spring hampered Von der Ahe's cross-examination. Lawyer Rowell drew from him the statement that although he allowed the corporation to operate the club, he received and paid out all the money and lumped the corporation's funds at the Northwestern Bank with his individual account.
testified that on Von der Ahe's statement that unless his players received their salaries by 10 o'clock the next morning the franchise would be forfeited, he lent to Chris the money to pay the players. George P. Riecher, son of the contractor who built the grand stand, testified to Von der Ahe having paid his firm with bonds, saying that the franchise was included in them.
Evidence All In.
Von der Ahe, when recalled, denied the statements of Becker and Riecher. The attorneys said that all the evidence was in, and Judge Spencer ordered them to have their briefs in by Friday noon, saying he would pass on the case by Monday.
-Sporting Life, January 21, 1899
I'm not willing to call it perjury but there was a bit of revisionism in both Spink and VdA's testimony, especially with regards to how VdA got control of the StLBBA and how the AA was founded. Having said that, Spink and VdA were both correct in that, in 1881, there was a distinction between the StLBBA, which ran the club, and the SPCA, which ran the ballpark. The former was run by the Spink brothers and the latter by Von der Ahe. But, of course, VdA seized control of the club late in the 1881 season and, at that point, it became a distinction without a difference.
Welcome to This Game Of Games, a website dedicated to telling the story of 19th century, St. Louis baseball.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.