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Detailed Book Review
   
   
   
Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns         
Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns
By J. Thomas Hetrick
ISBN: 978-1-929763-49-8
Price: $21.95
Shipping: $4.00
        
Bearing uncanny similarity to the iron-willed personas of contemporary baseball owners such as Marge Schott and George Steinbrenner, Von der Ahe was embroiled in legal battles and baseball disputes throughout the 1880s that culminated in his own kidnapping and his stadium being burned to the ground. Such a financial disaster is only one of the many bizarre events discussed in this insightful and evocative biography of one of America’s early baseball owners.

Chris Von der Ahe emigrated from Germany to the United States in 1867 and settled in St. Louis, Missouri. Starting out as a clerk in a grocery store, he soon succeeded in buying the grocery store and establishing a saloon in the back. Although Von der Ahe had no special interest in sports, he did notice that fans liked to drop by after a ball game and have a beer. Seeing a natural link between baseball and his saloon, Von der Ahe sponsored an American Association baseball team called the St. Louis Browns, the head of a lineage that includes the present day St. Louis Cardinals. Although the American Association lasted for only ten years, Von der Ahe’s Browns captured the pennant four years in a row. This roller-coaster ride through early American baseball makes for a story of luck, pluck, and bravado.

Chris Von der Ahe and the St. Louis Browns is also available as an e-book for Amazon Kindle.

        
Book Review Details:
        
Reviewed Appeared In: Der Poss Bresident and His St. Louis Prowns (Amazon)
Reviewed By: Bill Emblom
Text Of Review: What a wonderful job author J. Thomas Hetrick has done in bringing to life the St. Louis Browns of Der Poss Bresident Chris Von der Ahe of the 1880s and 1890s. The book is not only baseball history but a book loaded with funny anecdotes of the team's owner. More modern-day past owners such as Charley Finley, George Steinbrenner, and Bill Veeck came to mind. Von der Ahe knew little, and dare I say nothing, about the game in which he attempted to inject himself into. His fractured English added amusement to his players and had them imitating him. He would fine his players for errors and other incidentals which were often forgotten about the following day. He told his players to avoid hitting the ball in the air and to keep the ball "on the floor" instead. Von der Ahe watched as a smallish man was having a tryout at Sportsman's Park at third base. Chris suggested, "Dot little feller! Take him out to the Fairgrounds track and make a "hoss yockey" out of him. That "little feller" was none other than the great John Joseph McGraw.

With Charles Comiskey at the helm Von der Ahe's Browns were in their heyday in the mid-to-late 1880s and won the championship of the American Association, known derisively as "The Beer and Whiskey League", and then defeated the Chicago White Sox of the National League in a playoff. The egotistical Von der Ahe had a trophy made with the inscription "Monarchs of the Sphere."

This was an era of loose regulations and umpires often were subjected to a great deal of abuse from fans and players alike. Many players were fined for their liberal use of alcohol and not being in condition to play. Von der Ahe had his own personal troubles by having a mistress or more while married to yet another woman. The Sporting News wrote that he was his own worst enemy and "An affront to the community."

Yes, this book has a heavy price tag but if you are interested in the early days of baseball this book should be a must for you to have in your library. The book contains a photo of the life-sized statue of Chris Von der Ahe standing on a pedestal appearing to survey his domain which he had commissioned years before his death. Do yourself a favor and buy the book. If you like humorous anecdotes this book is loaded with them.

Date Reviewed: 8/13/2015
Link To Web Site:    
Author Appearances:
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