CHAPTER SIX

1899 —1900: St. Louis Blues

HE PLAYERS' situation became clearer early in 1899 when Frank Robison and his brother Stanley, acting with the support of T the National League, effectively secured the rights to the St. Louis franchise. The brothers now controlled two ball clubs — one in Cleveland and one in St. Louis — and were free to distribute players between the two as they wished. Such multiple control was called “syndicate baseball.” It is now impermissible, largely because it allows the person who controls the two clubs to cluster his talent in one of them and reduce the other to a joke — a path that the Robisons almost immediately embarked upon. St. Louis was famously a good baseball town, unencumbered by any law banning Sunday games. In the 1880s its team had won four consecutive American Association pennants and one World Series. Of late, however, under the direction of Chris von der Ahe, the St. Louis club had become a laughingstock, and its record of 68 wins and 213 losses over the course of the 1897 and 1898 seasons remains even today the poorest two-year performance for any club in the history of the major leagues. 1 With little to cheer about, St. Louis fans had been staying away from games. But informed observers said that interest remained high among St. Louisians, who were ready to respond to any team that could contend. To the Robisons, stung by their inability to draw a crowd with their fine stable of players in Sabbatarian Cleveland, the laxer atmosphere of St. Louis seemed a fit alternative. To maximize their chance of winning the hearts of St. Louis fans they shifted virtually every Spider, including, of course, their greatest star and drawing card, Cy Young, to the new franchise. And to make the move more palatable to Young, they increased the sub rosa por

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