Chris Under Fire.
Attorney Rowell, for the Mississippi Valley Trust Company, then began his cross-examination. The opening questions were of such little importance and of such a humorous kind, that Chris blurted out, "What are you trying to do, make fun with me?"
According to Von der Ahe's figures, Spotsman's Park and Club was indebted to him to the extent of over $100,000. He had at different times, he stated, asked the different stockholders to contribute their share to the expenses according to their holdings, but they had always refused, and he was forced to advance the money himself, in order to keep the club on its feet. Accordingly the corporation was indebted to him to the amount above named.
He had attended, with few exceptions, all the meetings held by the present twelve-club League, as well as the old Association, and had always been recognized as the representative of the St. Louis Base Ball Association. Von der Ahe admitted that the lease on the old grounds, as well as on the present home of the Browns, was in the name of Sportsman's Park and Club. He added that during his connection as president of Sportsman's Park and Club he had not drawn more than $5000 a year, which represented the salary paid him as the executive officer. He never drew more than that, he said, except when he sold players, whom he considered his individual property. He pocketed in 1887 $28,000 in this way. All the receipts collected from every source were deposited in the Northwestern Savings Bank to Von der Ahe's private account.
Squirming Out Of A Corner.
The case of ball player Newell against Von der Ahe to recover salary due him was referred to, and Chris was asked to explain how, in defending the suit, he had permitted the affidavit of his son, Edward Von der Ahe, to be introduced to the effect that the St. Louis Base Ball Association was all a myth. "Der Boss" replied that his son was under age at the time the affidavit was taken, and that he had no right to testify and that it was done without his knowledge or consent. He, himself, he stated with emphasis, had made no such statement at that or any other time.
The Two "M's" In Evidence.
A letter in the handwriting of George Munson, who was Von der Ahe's secretary at the time Newell brought his suit, was next shown. It was addressed to Colonel Rogers, and signed by Munson "Chris Von der Ahe" stating that Newell's suit was not brought properly, as there was no St. Louis Base Ball Association. This was disposed of by Von der Ahe saying that Munson had no authority to sign his name to any communications.
At the last hearing of the case, Muckenfuss, who was a bookkeeper in Von der Ahe's employ at the time Munson was his secretary, and who afterward succeeded Munson to the secretaryship, stated, while on the witness stand, that Munson often signed Von der Ahe's name to business communications, and that he had heard "Der Boss" give George that authority on numerous occasions.
Some Other "Franchises."
Von der Ahe was asked to place a value on the "franchises" owned by Sportsman's Park and Club. He replied that the "bicycle franchise" was worth $10,000, the "beer franchise" almost as valuable, and other "franchises" worth considerable. In answering to what the "beer franchise" consisted of, he said the privilege of getting beer and ice from a local brewery, the one he patronized. He denied that on August 6, 1898, he had made the remark to E.C. Becker that his base ball franchise belonged to Sportsman's Park and Club. He added that in 1891 that corporation owed other parties, besides himself, upwards of $38,000.
The strain was too much for Mr. Von der Ahe, whose irascibility is noted. He was decidedly excited before his cross examination concluded.
-Sporting Life, January 28, 1899
The flip side to that, of course, is VdA's contention that the club owed him $100,000. It's ludicrous. He wasn't putting money into the club; he was taking it out. When the club was struggling financially, he wasn't putting money into the club because he didn't have that kind of money to put into it.
One of the reasons the Muddle is so difficult to sort out is because it's almost impossible to separate the club's finances from Von der Ahe's personal finances. We've seen testimony during the hearing that implies the two were one and the same. When VdA went bankrupt, the club went bankrupt. Or vice versa. When the club stopped being profitable, Von der Ahe lost his most important source of income. He was able to juggle his complicated personal finances with the constant influx of cash the Browns brought in but once that cash flow dried up, he was no longer liquid enough to operate the club and stave off the creditors.