Chris von der Ahe

  • Card series: Beginnings: 1880's
  • City: St. Louis
  • Team: Browns (AA)
  • League: American Association

Christian Friedrich Wilhelm von der Ahe (1851-1913) put the beer in the “beer and whiskey league” as the American Association came to be known, perjoratively by National League purists and proudly by the upstart organization’s devotees. Von der Ahe had emigrated from Germany, bringing a zeal for making it big in the New World. His saloon in St. Louis hosted so many baseball fans that Chris decided to buy the bankrupt Brown Stockings. Perhaps recognizing his ignorance of the game, Chris had the sense to hire Charles Comiskey to play and eventually manage the club which went on to a string of pennants from 1885-88. The boss’s meddling hurt (Comiskey left) but his showmanship helped as a carnival atmosphere brought in the “fans” (possibly coined by von der Ahe.) The big, bluff German was always a center of controversy and drama. He lost the team in ‘98 after a ballpark fire following an earlier fire sale of the players to Brooklyn. After a year as the Perfectos, the team would ever after be known as the Cardinals.

  • Von der Ahe was the first to promote baseball to the great unwashed of his adopted country’s midsection, the blue-collar heartland of the game
  • While von der Ahe does have one pose in the Old Judge series, this image was taken from a Guerin Studio cabinet photo

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