In 1899 the Browns name and identity was gone. Instead the team would be trimmed in red. While we initially thought that Perfectos was their name for 1899, many newspaper articles tell a different story. Becoming a red team wasn’t the smoothest transition. The newspaper media called them the St. Louis team, the Perfectos, the Red Stockings, the Reds, the Red Caps, even the Indians. The Perfectos name came about early in the season when the team started with a perfect 7-0 record. Midway through the season we have many writers simply referring to their garb, as was tradition in 19th century baseball. The Browns were called the Browns because they wore Brown, and the new red identity gained similar team names.
Beyond the multitude of team names and before any official naming of the team, there are many other stories and drama regarding the ownership of the team. The original Brown’s owner Chris Von der Ahe was financially broke and his ballpark had burned to the ground the previous year. Von der Ahe was the earliest and greatest innovator to the game of baseball. He introduced beer at ballgames, opening day parades, amusement parks outside the ballpark, souvenir days, and much more. But he also ran the team into the ground.
The National League sought to protect the team and keep professional baseball in St Louis, so they foreclosed the franchise from Von der Ahe. The team was sold at auction on the courthouse steps in St. Louis to a man named G.A. Gruner, and within a couple days, he flipped the team for a profit to another man named Edward C Becker.
Becker was the Vice President of the American Baseball and Athletic Exhibition Company of St. Louis. He gained League recognition as the successor of the Sportsman’s Park and Club, and formed a partnership with Frank and Stanley Robison. The Robison brothers owned the Cleveland Spiders franchise. Cleveland was doomed to be expelled by the National League, and in order to create a more winning franchise and preserve their best players, the owners decided to transfer their strongest players to St. Louis, and their weaker players to Cleveland. Among those players coming to St. Louis was Cy Young.
With a better combination of players in St. Louis, the team also changed their colors to bright red. Looking at the team photographs, the belts worn were much lighter in color than the caps or socks, leading us to believe they were a tan/leather color instead of red.
Chicago Inter Ocean: February 20, 1899
Every club shall adopt uniforms for its players, and the suits of each team shall conform to color and style. No player shall attach anything to the sole or heel of his shoes, other than the ordinary baseball shop plate, of who shall appear in a uniform not conforming to the suits of the other members of his team, shall be permitted to take part in the game. This change is suggested that the teams may prevent a neat and pleasing appearance on the field.
Milwaukee Sentinel: March 3, 1899
It was announced that the next meeting of the league would be held in this city immediately after the sale of the St. Louis club. It was also intimated that if the Brown Stockings passed into proper hands, the circuit would be cut down to ten clubs, Baltimore and Cleveland being dropped. In the meantime, it is said, a ten club schedule will be arranged.
The Utica Observer: March 14, 1899
A Cleveland despatch says: The Cleveland base-ball team left yesterday afternoon for their training quarters at Hot Springs. Manager Tebeau spent the morning in an extended conference at the office of President Robison and at noon made the official announcement that the Cleveland base-ball team would remain in Cleveland this season. “This information,” said Tebeau, “is official and the public may rest assured that we will not only play here but that we will have one of the very best teams in the league. I have had no faith in the St. Louis story from the beginning and I am glad now to formally announce that there will be no Indians in St. Louis uniforms this year.”
The New York Times: March 15, 1899
Under the foreclosure of a deed of trust, Sheriff Pohlmann sold at public auction to-day the Sportsman’s Park and Club, including the franchise held by the St. Louis Browns, to G.A. Gruner, one of the Directors of the club, for $33,000. Mr. Gruner is Treasurer of the Phil Gruner & Brother Lumber Co. After the sale he said: ‘I bought the property for the creditors and bondholders.’ Ramell & Muerch, attorneys for the bondholders, said: ‘This is a bona fide purchase of the property by the creditors who will probably run the club themselves.'”
St. Louis Post Dispatch: March 17, 1899
It Is Thought That Becker Has an Understanding With the League Folks and Will Join Hands With Robison
Edward C. Becker has bought the St. Louis Browns.
He bought from the creditors who purchased the Sportsman’s Park and Club property at Sheriff’s sale on Tuesday afternoon.
Frank Tate, the well-known manager of the Columbia Theater, was one of the early callers at Attorney Muench’s office in the Lincoln Trust Building this morning.
He offered the creditors $35,000 in cash for the property they had bought for $33,000.
He also offered to pay up the league dues of $1153 and the Wilkesbarre and Chicago claims, amounting to $1750.
To all, Mr. Tate offered $37,903 for the club.
A little later Mr. Becker appeared, and after he had been closeted with Mr. Muench and the creditors for a few moments. Mr. Muench reappeared and, looking at Mr. Tate, said:
“Well Mr. Tate, I am sorry to say that you are no longer in it. We have sold to Becker. At the same time I want, on behalf of the creditors, to thank you for your very kind and liberal offer.”
“Then the property has been sold to Becker” said the Post-Dispatch man.
“Will you kindly give us the price?”
“No, I can’t do that just yet.”
“Has every thing been settled?”
“Everything except the signing of the papers. Mr. Becker has accepted–no, say that the credits have accepted Mr. Becker’s offer and that the sale has been made. Mr. Becker has simply gone out to get his lawyer to here and be present when the papers are signed. There is nothing else to be done as all parties have come to terms.”
Although Mr. Muench would not say how much Becker had paid for the property it is very evident that he paid more than Tate offered. The price paid was probably $40,000.
It is said that Becker has been telegraphing all over the country, asking the League men if they would stand by him in case he bought the club.
It is said he received several favorable answers and that that was the reason that he came to the front this morning and bought.
It was also said that the creditors had received telegrams from League men, telling them to do business with Becker and promising to ratify whatever contract they entered into with him.
It is said that this was the reason they sold to Becker in preference to anyone else.
Mr Muench, however, said: “We sold Becker just what we bought. We guaranteed him nothing. There is no doubt in the world though that the League will recognize him just as they would recognize any other reputable person who might have bought.”
The sale carries with it all the stands and property now in Sportsman’s Park, a 10 year lease of the grounds, and the right and title to the following ball players…. But it is not likely that Mr. Becker will try to put the above team to the field. It is more than likely that he will make a partner with Robison by which these players of the Cleveland team will be moved in here…
Nearly of the creditors who were present at Friday morning’s meeting in the office of Attorney Muench.
All of them appeared to be favorable to Becker, and it was very evident that they had been told by some one to stand by him.
Mr. Becker moved about without saying a word. A gentleman who is very close to him could not get a word out of him, and said in a reply to a question:
“I don’t believe that Becker himself knows what he is going to do with the team. But he has received several telegrams from the East advising him to buy, so that I suppose he knows what he is doing and has bought with the intention of doubling up at once with Robison.”
While waiting for the verdict, Mr. Tate, who had made the first offer, said: “Had the syndicate which I represented been successful we would have put the game back on its feet. We stood ready to spend $75,000 on the team and had picked out men to manage and run it.”
A friend of Becker’s said: “Becker bought the club for $35,000. Of this he paid $3000 down. The balance he will pay when the property is delivered over to him.”
It was sold to him for that sum because he had friends on the list of creditors, and the latter nearly all favored him.”
The above is a good likeness of Edward C. Becker, the new owner of the St. Louis Browns. Mr. Becker was Mr. Von der She’s friend through all the troublesome times at Sportsman’s Park and in good or bad weather he was always to be seen out there, chatting with Chris or Muck. Mr. Becker is a great lover of the game, and besides buying the club simply as a business transaction, he has a fondness for the sport, which had much to do with his making the purchase. Mr. Becker, until a year or two ago has been in the wholesale grocery business, but the past year or two has been in the brokerage and commission business.
Chicago Inter Ocean: March 18, 1899
Becker Buys the Plant and Franchise for $40,000
Robison is in the Deal
Cleveland’s Team of Stars to Be Transferred
Details of the Plan to Solve the St. Louis Problem– Ten-Club Circuit is a Certainty
ST. LOUIS, Mo., March 17. – The St. Louis Browns are the property of Edward C. Becker. The transfer was practically completed this morning, assurances having been received by Mr. Becker from a majority of the magnets that they would respect his rights if he were to purchase the assets so recently bought by the creditors of the old Sportsman’s park and club. The price paid by Mr. Becker is not yet known but it is somewhere in the vicinity of $40,000.
Now the preparation of a team for the season, which opens next month, will begin and that preparation means a deal between Becker and Robison and the transfer of the Cleveland to St. Louis, Robison and Becker retaining the best material of the old Browns and releasing the rest.
Frank R. Tate, who was also bidding for the team, was notified this morning that the creditors had decided to sell to Becker. Tate’s offer was $35,000 cash, the League dues of $1153, and the Wilkesbarre and Chicago claims, aggregating $1,750. Becker’s offer was not made public. The negotiations for the deal were begun yesterday afternoon, when the creditors met in the offices of their attorneys, Lubke & Muench. Mr. Becker attended the meeting, with receiver Muckenfuss, who acted as his spokesman. Mr. Frank Tate of the Columbia theater, also attended. He represented a syndicate, headed by Mr. Zach Tinker of the Columbia Brewing Company.
Considerable time was spent in discussion, the matter of recognition by the league being the sole subject of argument. On behalf of his syndicate, Mr. Tate made his offer contingent on the leagues agreement to accept the purchasers.
Becker Was the Favorite
The offer was more favorable from a financial standpoint, but it did not receive as much favor as Mr. Beckers, as the creditors were quite doubtful of their ability to deliver the goods. Mr. Becker offered $35,000 outright, clear of his own preferred claims, but asked for delay until today to get assurances from his league friends that he would be recognized.
Mr. Becker contended that has possession of a majority of the stock of the Sportsman’s Park and Club, and his standing as a preferred creditor, put him in a position to demand recognition by the league, which an all probability would be denied an outsider. His argument had weight with the creditors, and both sides agreed to wait until this morning to resume negotiations.
When the creditors assembled this morning, although Mr. Tate and Mr. Becker were both present, Mr. Becker alone was invited into the conference.
After 10 minutes Mr. Becker left the room hurriedly and Messrs. Muench and Rowell retired to a private office with a stenographer to draw up a bill of sale.
The speed with which Mr. Becker’s terms were excepted was due to a telegram received from John I. Rogers and replied to one sent Thursday. Mr. Rogers said the league would recognize no one but Becker or Robison. After the papers were signed Mr. Becker wrote out a check for the amount, then he departed. The creditors bantered him for season tickets, but he shrugged his shoulders and said he did not have any idea of managing a ball team.
Mr. Becker will file articles of incorporation at once for a new baseball association, in which Mr. Robison will hold 49 per cent of the stock. All he gives in exchange for this is his team of ball players but it is a championship aggregation, and will bring great baseball glory once again to Sportsman Park.
Von der Ahe Is Satisfied
Mr. William Kinnerk, attorney for Chris Von der Ahe, when told that Messrs. Becker and Robison had bought the St. Louis Club from the creditors’ syndicate, said: “Everey lover of baseball will be glad to see the Cleveland club in St. Louis. We have not made up our minds about filing an apepal bond, which would have the effect setting aside this morning’s proceedings. We will push our appeal, however. If the bonds pay out in full Von der Ahe will realize about $6,000 out of the sale.”
Attorney Muench, for the creditors, said after the sale had been agreed upon: “We sold Becker just what we bought. We guaranteed him nothing. There is no doubt in the world though that the league will not recognize him just as they would recognize any other reputable person, who might have bought.”
The sale carries with it all the stands and property now in Sportsman’s Park, a fifteen-year lease of the grounds, and the right and title to the following ball players…
The American Baseball Exhibition and Athletic company filed articles of incorporation this afternoon. The capital stock is $100,000, one half paid, divided into 1,000 shares at $100 each. The stockholders and their holdings are: Edward C. Becker, 996 shares; Guy P. Billon, 1 share; John H. Blessing, 1 sahre; Samuel G. Payne, 1 share, and W. G. Sehofield, 1 share. The company will manage and operate the new Browns.
The New York Times: March 18, 1899
Edward C. Becker, a capitalist of this city, has purchased the St. Louis Browns from the creditors who bought the club’s assets last Tuesday at Sheriff’s sale.
St. Louis Post Dispatch: March 22, 1899
According to the best obtainable advices, Edward C. Becker, the new owner of the St. Louis Browns, is on his way to New York. It is given out that the National League will hold a meeting at Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York on Thursday and that then and there Becker and Robison will form a partnership. At this meeting the most important business to be transacted will be the adoption of the League schedule and the settling of the St. Louis Club muddle. It may take some time to settle the latter, but then again it may be settled in a big hurry. A man very close to the League throne said on Wednesday morning: “The matter is as good as settled now. Robison and Becker will be forced to go into partnership. The city of Cleveland will be turned over to the Western League. Baltimore will be dropped from the big League and the later’s circuit will be reduced to ten clubs. Yes, I know President Young says the present twelve-club agreement will be maintained and that the league will hold on to all its present members. But it won’t. Mark my words, Robison and Becker will have joined forces before next Saturday night, and Pat Tebeau and the present Cleveland team will play their game in St. Louis on April 15, wearing St. Louis uniforms and representing the city in the National League.”
Chicago Tribune: March 25, 1899
ROBISON CONTROLS THE CLUB.
Secures Fifty-one Per Cent of the St. Louis Baseball Stock Before Signing His Players.
St. Louis, Mo., March 24. – [Special.] – Frank De Haas Robison of Cleveland is the President of the St. Louis Browns; Seward C. Becker is Vice President; Stanley Robison, treasurer; William Scofield, secretary. They were elected at a meeting held in this city several days ago.
During the last ten days the presence of Mr. Robison in this city was known, although he persistently kept under cover. He was a guest at the Southern Hotel, where he received his mail and where had several consultations with Becker and others. With him was his attorney, Tom Russell of Cleveland.
During his stay he arranged many details of the deal which ended in his election as the head of the new organization. In the afternoon of the day Mr. Becker bought the St. Louis Club from the creditors’ syndicate he organized the American Baseball and Athletic Exhibition company. The following day he was elected President.
Mr. Becker owned 966 shares of the capital stock and the others one share each. Then Mr. Becker and Mr. Robison began negotiations, the St. Louis man offering the Cleveland President stock in the new corporation in exchange for the Cleveland baseball players. Mr. Becker wanted to make the division on a basis of 51 and 49 per cent, he to hold control, and finally Mr. Becker acquiesced. Mr. Robison now holds 51 per cent of the stock and will have control.
He intends to bring the Cleveland club here in its entirety. The St. Louis players will be transferred to Cleveland unless the league circuit is reduced. Messrs. Robison and Becker intended to make no announcement of their plans until they had been approved by the league magnates, but it leaked out.
Cincinnati Enquirer: March 30, 1899
Brown stockings, so long identified with the St. Louis Club, will not be in evidence this season. Tho home suits of the club will be of white flannel, with crimson trimmings, stockings and cap. It will hardly be possible to call them the Browns. The traveling suits will be gray, with crimson trimmings. The new uniform is said to be a very handsome one. Tebeau did not eliminate the brown stockings with malice or forethought, but he is not sorry that It turned out that way. So says that he does not desire any other names beyond that of The St. Louis club.” “No Browns or Reds or Spiders or Indians for me,” said the manager to-day. “The St. Louis Club is plenty good enough.”
The Utica Observer: March 31, 1899
Edward C. Becker, Vice President of the new St. Louis Browns, has returned to St. Louis from New York. Becker announces that Robison’s intention is to retain the entire Cleveland team, in which case the make-up of the Browns will be as follows: Catchers, Zimmer, Schrecongost, O’Connor. Criger; pitchers, “Cy” Young, George Cuppy, John Powell, C.R. Bates, Bert Jones, Lou McAllister, Frank Wilson, Peter McBride; first base, Oliver Tebeau; second base, Clarence Childs; short stop, Ed McKean; third base, Robert Wallace; left field, Jesse Burkett; right field, Harry Blake; centre field, Mike Griffin; substitute, Emmet Heidrick.
Becker would not discuss the interview of John I Rogers, in which he declared the action of the league in giving Louisville the worst of the schedule, was the result of a conspiracy to freeze out the team. Local base-ball enthusiasts, however, are inclined to agree with Rogers, for it is the belief that the freezing out of the Louisvilles would mean the dropping of Cleveland, which is regarded as quite desirable. No secret is made of the fact that Cleveland will be a “farm” for St. Louis should it remain in the league.
Denver Evening Post: April 1, 1899
Chris Von Der Ahe is to sue the National League for expelling him from that body and thereby causing him to lose about $40,000 at the recent sheriff’s sale of the Browns.
St. Louis Globe Democrat: April 5, 1899
Switching this Cleveland team to St. Louis and starting out with the hurrah that is certain to follow in that city is going to spur those Indians onto more war dances than they have held in two years. They are going to be a tough lot to beat.
Grand Rapid Herald: April 1899
The new rule requiring all players of a team to be uniformed alike will be enforced so far as it can consistently be done, but accidents often happen during a game when it becomes necessary to change clothes, and without duplicate uniforms, the uniformity cannot always be kept up.
St. Louis Post Dispatch: April 16, 1899
The Clevelands had on their traveling suits of white stockings and gray trousers and shirts, a dingy effect contrasted with the new white suits and cardinal stockings and caps of the new St. Louis club. Tebeau’s men made a great hit with the crowd as they swung down the field a second later. The sun was shining brightly to add to the picture. Big Cy Young headed the line, with little Cupid Childs tagging behind. When the procession reached the plate the men wheeled 18 abreast, so the line-up became as an inclined plane. Both teams were applauded in preliminary practice, but it was evident that the crowd didn’t want practice. Championship action was what was demanded.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: April 17, 1899
A St. Louis paper says: Mr. Christopher Von der Ahe, late owner of the St. Louis Baseball Club, was the recipient of the first season ticket issues by the St. Louis Club. As far as could be ascertained he failed to take advantage of it. It was stated that he saw the morning parade at Fifth and Oliver streets, smiled and turned away.
Nebraska State Journal, April 23, 1899
The St. Louis newspapers are devoting acres of space to the new Tebeau Reds, and the Mound City fans are baseball mad, recalling the flower of Chris Von der Ahe’s days in St. Louis.
The Grand Island Daily Press: April 27, 1899
St Louis Patrons Pleased
Baseball has been resurrected in St Louis and Tebeau and his team of championship calibre will represent it in the next National League race.
This desirable change has been anticipated for months and its consummation completes the happiness of the local enthusiasts who have been loyal to the game in the darkest days at Sportsman’s Park. The coming of the Clevelands has effaced the disagreeable memories of successive seasons of defeat and humiliation and whetted the appetites of the followers of the national game for the real article of ball with which they will be regaled In 1899. The new Browns are owned by the American Baseball and Athletic Exhibition Company officered as follows: Frank De Hass Robison president, E C Becker vice president, M Stanley Robison treasurer, W C Schofield secretary. President Robison will make this city his home and give his attention to the club’s business interests, the management of the players being entrusted to Oliver Tebeau. Reference to the “Said by the Magnates” and “Tips from Managers” columns will reward the reader with the respective views of Messrs Robison and Tebeau on the future of the new Browns. The purchase of Mike Griffin’s release for $4000 is a forerunner of the progressive policy which the new owners will pursue in operating the club. Tebeau’s team is strong in all departments and figures on form to finish one two three in the pennant race. The uncertainties in baseball not only make it enjoyable but render it difficult to forecast a race in which such grand combinations of playing talent as those which will represent St Louis, Boston, Brooklyn, Cincinnati, and Chicago, will compete for the honors. One of these five teams will be the National League pennant winners of 1899 with a strong probability that the close of the championship will be marked by an exciting finish between the first three, and the closer the struggle and the faster the pace, the better will be the chances of the Tebaultes, for a gamer lot of players never wore uniforms. They know the game and play its points and their great leader and his able lieutenant Jack O’Connor are always on the alert to turn a trick and score an advantage.
Detroit Free Press, May 1, 1899
Nine of Tebeau’s Indians batted .300 or better during the first week of the championship season. No wonder the team won all of its games.
Pittsburgh Press, May 4, 1899
McKean and Tebeau made six of the 13 hits made by the red caps off Pink Hawley yesterday.
Kansas City Times: May 7, 1899
St. Louis’ splendid start in the pennant race has given Pat’s Perfectos a great advantage over Boston, Brooklyn, Chicago and Cincinnati, their most dangerous rivals, says the Sporting News.
Dayton Herald: May 8, 1899
Bass ball is booming in two of the western cities of the National League – St. Louis and Chicago – and is in a healthy condition in Cincinnati and Pittsburgh. The record-breaking crowd of 27,489 at Sunday’s April 30 game between the Chicago and St. Louis clubs, and fine attendance at the Cincinnati games, give Chicago the post honor in patronage. The first eight games played at the St. Louis Park were witnessed by 55,000 spectators, an average daily attendance of close to 7000. The weather was threatening on six of the eight days, and on two of them rain fell. Pat’s Perfectos are drying well, and will continue to have crowds as long as they play first-class ball. Pittsburgh can be depended on for paying patronage.
Harrisburg Daily Independent: May 8, 1899
The splendid start made by the St. Louis club is gradually being cut down, but they still have a good lead over Boston, Brooklyn and Cincinnati, their most dangerous rivals, while Chicago and the Phillies are tie for second place only twenty-two points behind Pats Perfecto’s. Boston and Brooklyn may be expected to begin to climb soon and once the big B’s start upwards the Perfectos will need all the advantage they may be able to enjoin beforehand…
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: May 25, 1899
This patterning the ball teams after cigar signs is funny. Now that the Brooklyns have attached to themselves the name of “Superbas,” the St. Louis have been styled the “Perfectos.”
Brooklyn Daily Eagle: July 12, 1899
The red caps and red stockings of the St. Louis team make them very conspicuous on the field. They are no longer the Browns, although the name still adheres to any team representing St. Louis. The members of the team have their old hair still clinging to them, that of loud coaching from the bench.
Red – PMS 200