Trustee Von der Ahe, of the St. Louis Base Ball Club, on Tuesday afternoon advertised, in his capacity as trustee, the sale of the club, and its assets to the highest bidder on Sept. 1. Unless prevented by legal measures Von der Ahe will buy the club. He has preferred claims against the club amounting to $87,000. He can bid this amount and not leave a cent to be expended on the unpreferred creditors. Taxes, mechanics' liens, rent and salaries have to come out of the price bid. Edward Becker will furnish the money to pay these. Becker tried to buy the club, but could not get a clear title. Now Von der Ahe has taken him into partnership. After waiting almost five weeks for back salary Manager Tim Hurst and his Browns were paid off at the conclusion of the practice Monday morning. The manager and players were handed checks signed by E.C. Becker, who advanced the cash to pay all salaries.
Muckenfuss As Receiver.
President B.S. Muckenfuss, of the St. Louis Club, was to-day appointed receiver of the club and also of Sportsman's Park, by Judge Wood of the Circuit Court. He will assume charge as soon as he secures his bond of $20,000. The application for a receiver was made by the Mississippi Valley Trust Company, which stated in its petition that it was a trustee under a deed of trust to secure $20,000 worth of bonds, and that the principal and interest on the bonds were in default.
In Von Der Ahe's Interest.
Edward Becker was represented by an attorney, who claimed that his client was the heaviest creditor of the club, and that the proceedings would put the burden of the expense upon him. This shows that Becker has not given up the team, as Von der Ahe a few days ago announced. It is generally understood that the appointment of a receiver is made to enable Von der Ahe to put in the block of stock he holds in the team to secure a good bargain at the sale, which is now set for Sept. 1. It is also said that Von der Ahe wants to get rid of Becker, who is a capitalist, and who has tided him over several rough places, so that he can buy the club himself, as preferred creditor, for $87,000, and then turn it over to the Robison syndicate.
-Sporting Life, August 13, 1898
This second claim was, of course, utter nonsense and I'll show you tomorrow why that was, as we take a quick, detailed look at the debt of the Sportsman's Park and Club Association.
The other thing we're going to have to look at is Edward Becker's role with the club. Becker may not have been the largest creditor of the club but he had loaned a great deal of money to Von der Ahe, as VdA was trying to keep his creditors at bay. These loans were secured by club stock. In fact, they had been secured by enough club stock to make Becker the largest shareholder in the club. Becker was more than just a creditor; he was someone with an active interest in the club. This is shown by the fact that he was paying the players' salaries by August 1898 and by the fact that both he and VdA were at the annual National League meeting in February 1897, representing the Browns.
Becker had invested heavily in VdA and the Browns and was, in the summer of 1898, fighting to protect and recover that investment. In many ways, the story of Von der Ahe's fall is the story of his fight with Becker over control of the ball club. The whole thing degenerated into a long, drawn out court battle and ended with some byzantine machinations by National League magnates but it was really a fight between VdA and Becker.