The second attempt to secure the release of Chris Von der Ahe on a writ of habeas corpus was made before Judge Buffington in the United States Circuit Court yesterday [February 23]. Judge Buffington took the case under advisement and will not render a decision for several days and in the meantime Chris will remain in jail. It was intimated before the proceedings opened that there was a side to the Von der Ahe story which had not been made public. It had been related that there was an agreement between W.A. Nimick, bondsman, and Von der Ahe back from St. Louis to surrender him to the Allegheny County authorities.
Attorney J. Scott Ferguson was on hand to argue in favor of granting the writ. Mr. Von der Ahe's St. Louis attorney, J.M. Glover, was not present. He had been expected to assist Mr. Ferguson, but sent word this morning that he could not possibly be in Pittsburg to-day. Attorneys O'Brien and Fording appeared for the State. The attorneys for both sides agreed to submit the testimony taken at the previous hearing just as if it had been heard this morning. This closed the proceedings and Judge Buffington promised to have the final order ready as soon as he can look over the paper. Attorney Ferguson, in reply to Judge Buffington, said the Mercantile Trust Company would put up the necessary security for the bail. Attorney O'Brien said there was no question about the genuineness of the bail. His contention was there should not be any bail at all. Attorney Ferguson thought differently and continued to say so while the court adjourned.
The Other Side's Claim.
Attorney O.R. Fording, who appeared for Nimick and Constable Bendel, said if the Court decided to adhere to its previous decision that Von der Ahe had been legally brought into this county he would not care whether Von der Ahe is now released or not. After the proceedings this morning it appeared to be the general opinion among attorneys and others that Von der Ahe will be released on bail within the next few days.
-Sporting Life, February 26, 1898
When it comes down to it, we can talk about the significance of the Baldwin Affair with regards to the Players' Revolt and the trade war between the American Association and the National League in the early 1890s and that's all interesting and valid. That really is the background of the whole thing. But the true significance of the Baldwin Affair is the fact that it ended up with Von der Ahe in jail for a couple of weeks and the damage that this did to his historical reputation.
When I argue about Von der Ahe's significance and his historical legacy, it's difficult to overcome the damage that the "kidnapping" and his bankruptcy did to his reputation. It adds to the buffoonish caricature that is presented in the 20th century baseball histories. It's a tough thing to overcome and I usually deal with it by stating, simply, that Von der Ahe was a man with flaws, who made mistakes, but that shouldn't take away from his accomplishments.
Von der Ahe's fall - the end of his story in baseball - is ugly and it has done lasting damage to a historical legacy that is, in my opinion, second to none in history of St. Louis baseball. But truth is truth and fact is fact and I have no problem digging through the ugliness of Von der Ahe's fall. For me, it doesn't take away from what the man achieved. But it is really ugly.