The case was called Friday morning and Mr. Von der Ahe's counsel asked for a continuance on the ground that President Nick Young, of the National League, had evaded giving a deposition, with which they expected to prove many of Mr. Von der Ahe's contentions. Judge Spencer, however, refused the request, setting the case for trial at 2 P.M., with the assurance that if Mr. Young's testimony should prove to be essential it can be secured later. Receiver Muckenfuss was the only witness called Thursday, and was on the stand all afternoon. He went into the history of the affairs of Sportsman's Park and Club, telling how it finally reached a stage of bankruptcy, and how Chris Von der Ahe was appointed trustee. He told the history of his subsequent appointment to the receivership, a condition in which Mr. Von der Ahe apparently acquiesced for some time before the action was set on foot to have him ousted.
Chris' Cash Ran It.
Muckenfuss also stated that the franchise had been operated by the corporation, and that he had never heard of the St. Louis Base Ball Association being a separate concern, holding the franchise until quite recently. He also told how contracts with players were made with the corporation. One peculiarity of the business methods pursued at Sportsman's Park was brought out in Mr. Muckenfuss' testimony. While he stated that all bills were addressed to Sportsman's Park and Club, the corporation had never had a bank account in its own name, all deposits being kept in Mr. Von der Ahe's name and the bills of Sportsman's Park and Club were therefore paid with checks signed by Mr. Von der Ahe.
The Players' Contracts.
Quite a surprise was sprung on Von der Ahe when the question of the contracts with players was brought up. Von der Ahe had claimed that all these contracts were burned up in the fire, while Muckenfuss claimed that Von der Ahe had removed them from the park before the place burned last summer. Mr. Muckenfuss, however, had in some way secured two of these contracts, and he furnished them in Court. To say that Mr. Von der Ahe was surprised to see them was putting it mildly. The Von der Ahe side of the case has all along claimed that the only weak spot in Von der Ahe's contention was the fact that the contracts with the players were with Sportsman's Park and Club, and the absence of these contracts was expected to bridge over this difficulty. The contracts produced by Muckenfuss were put in evidence. Mr. Muckenfuss also referred to the insurance paid on the park, saying that when Von der Ahe became trustee he had all the insurance made out in his own name, and that "Chris" got all the insurance, amounting to about $32,000.
On Friday Mr. Muckenfuss' testimony and cross-examination was finished. The cross-examination did not materially alter his story as told on direct examination the day before. The half-charred contract with Tim Hurst, showing that "Tiny Tim" received $2400 for his services as manager of the Browns last year, was introduced. The contract was with Sportsman's Park and Club, and was introduced for the purpose of proving that that corporation, and not the St. Louis Base Ball Association, operated the base ball franchise, and paid everyone connected with the club.
Mr. Muckenfuss made several interesting admissions. One of these was that during his connection with the club in an official capacity Mr. Von der Ahe drew between $20,000 and $25,000 annually out of the club treasury. All this time the club was losing money. Another statement was that after the fire Mr. Von der Ahe collected $32,000 insurance, paid for the erection of the new grandstand and office building and put the large wholesome balance of twenty odd thousands in his pocket. Mr. Von der Ahe was trustee of the Sportsman's Park and Club at this time, and will probably report to the court which appointed him on the disposition he has made of the money.
E.C. Becker, prominent in the case as the "angel" who supplied Mr. Von der Ahe with funds when the club began to lose money, was called, but his testimony was neither new nor important. Holly Hall, who was the official scorer in 1895, also testified. He was put on to prove that he was employed by and under the direction of the president of the League, Nick Young, but drew his pay from Sportsman's Park and Club. On cross-examination Hall admitted that Von der Ahe had paid his salary with his personal check.
With this testimony the plaintiff, Mississippi Valley Trust Company, rested its case, and the defense asked for time to again try to secure a deposition from President Young, of the National League. Judge Spencer allowed until Friday, January 13, for this purpose, and the case was set forward to that day.
-Sporting Life, January 14, 1899
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