Owner Profile: Chris Von der Ahe
Christian Frederick Wilhelm Von der Ahe was born in Hille, Germany on October 7, 1851. His parents were grain farmers and by most accounts, very successful. In 1867, as a teenager, left Germany for the United States to avoid service in the Prussian military.
He landed in New York City where he spent six weeks before moving to St. Louis, Missouri. He got a job as a grocery clerk where he saved enough money to buy the grocery which doubled as a saloon in 1870.
It was on March 3, 170 that he married a native Missourian with German heritage. They opened a bigger establishment four years later at Grand and St. Louis Avenue that was a grocery, delicatessen, saloon and beer garden.
It was a few years later that he got involved in baseball. Near the end of 1879, Browns owner August Solari decided he would not renew the lease of $6500 for the next season and the team would be dismantled. Left fielder Ned Cuthbert was a bartender for Von der Ahe at a saloon (The Golden Lion Saloon) that was only a block from the stadium. He had been trying for months to get Von der Ahe to purchase the team.
Von der Ahe was basically oblivious to the fact that his saloon and baseball were connected. He notices players coming in and drinking quickly and leaving. He wandered over to the players table and asked them why his saloon was full at 2pm and then again at 4pm but not in between. The answer was, “They’re all at the ballgame.”
-more to come –