The St. Louis Red Stockings were defeated to-day [June 18] in the last inning after a prettily played game with the Kentucky champions [the Eclipse], the score being [6-4]…
-St. Louis Globe-Democrat, June 19, 1881
And that may be what this series of posts is all about, in the end. Yes, we're going to be talking about how the AA came about and how Von der Ahe got control of the Brown Stockings. That all goes to the return of major league baseball to St. Louis in 1882. That's what I mean when I call this the Restoration. But none of that happens if the economics of the game hadn't improved. If clubs in St. Louis, Cincinnati, and Louisville couldn't draw a crowd and make money on the road then the AA doesn't happen. There was a demand for baseball in 1881 that wasn't there in 1878 or 1879. I have no idea how to quantify that or show you that other than to point out that clubs like the Reds and the Brown Stockings weren't visiting Louisville in 1878. The Chicago clubs weren't coming to St. Louis in 1879 and 1880. The country was struggling to overcome the effects of the Long Depression and you weren't getting big enough crowds at the ballpark. Teams weren't making money and, therefore, weren't making the road trips that they had in the past.
But things were changing in 1881 and there is some evidence that they had begun to change in 1880. By the end of the 1881 season, it was evident that the baseball economy was growing and that the market could bear another league. Things like the Reds going on the road to Louisville and Cincinnati was a sign of a healthy baseball economy.