An attempt was made here yesterday in the interest of the American association by President Von Der Ahe to arrest Mark Baldwin for conspiracy. Baldwin is here signing Association players for the League. Von der Ahe and his secretary demanded a warrant of the prosecuting attorney against Baldwin, which was refused, on the ground that the case could not be made out.
-Rock Island Argus, March 4, 1891
At the instance of President Von Der Ahe, of the American association, a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Mark Baldwin, of the National league, charging him with conspiracy in the securing of American association players for the National league.
-Rock Island Argus, March 6, 1891
This is the basis for the conspiracy charge. Von der Ahe believed that owners in the National League were conspiring to steal players from the American Association and that Baldwin was acting as their agent. He believed that to entice someone to abdicate their contractual obligations was a crime and had the agent of the conspiracy arrested.
The Baldwin Affair was, essentially, a battle between the American Association, represented by Von der Ahe, and the National League, represented by Mark Baldwin. This battle was just one small part of a larger war between the AA and the NL, as the National Agreement, which had been signed in 1883, fell apart. That's the real context of the Baldwin Affair and I'm working on a long piece that covers all of that. I'll post that as soon as I can wrap it up but, for now, we'll just keep moving forward, trying to document the details of this little affair.