Excerpt from The Summer of Beer and Whiskey
The original plan was to seek admission to the National League. Von der Ahe and his friends were rebuffed. “The owners of its clubs had no use for us,” sportswriter Al Spin recalled. Gambling scandals had given St. Louis “a black eye in baseball circles the country over.” And, surely, years of poor attendance at St. Louis games, and Von der Ahe’s intention to sell oceans of beer, did not help. No one outside the immediate circle of investors seemed to have the slightest faith that Von der Ahe would turn it all around. St. Louis had a hard time finding someone to play against.
“We had a fine nine of willing players, but there were no opposition teams in sight. It was up to me to fill the breach,” Spinks said. So he pitched an intriguing idea to a fellow baseball writer, O.P. Caylor of the Cincinnati Enquirer, in another heavily German, lager-loving city that had lost its slot in the National League. He urged Caylor to round up whatever professional players were still lurking in town, slap on them the already nostalgic name of Cincinnati Reds, and bring them to St. Louis for a three-game, Saturday-through-Monday series in late May. Just as Chris Von der Ahe had hoped, thousands of people thronged Sportsmen’s Park. “The names St. Louis Browns and Cincinnati Reds proved magic in so far as reawakening interest in the game in this city was concerned,” Spink recalled. At the end of the game, Von der Ahe, “happier, apparently, than any of the rest,” grasped Spink by the hand. “What a fine big crowd! But the game, Al, the game. How was it? Was it a pretty good game? You know I know nothing about it.”