Owner and Entrepreneur. Christian Frederick Wilhelm von der Ahe was a German-American entrepreneur, best known as the owner of the St. Louis Brown Stockings (Browns) of the American Association, the franchise that later became the St. Louis Cardinals. Von der Ahe emigrated from Germany to New York City, taking employment as a grocery store clerk. He later bought the store and expanded the business to include a saloon at the back of the store. Noticing that his saloon was frequented by crowds after baseball games, in 1882 he purchased the St. Louis Brown Stockings, a failing franchise in the American Association, a major professional baseball league. Von der Ahe became the first baseball team owner with a significant public persona, possessing a flair for showmanship and innovation. The Browns won four straight league championships from 1885 to 1888 as well as leading the league in attendance. Von der Ahe became wealthy from the success of his baseball franchise, beer sales and other investments. Von der Ahe even took a brief, unsuccessful turn at managing the Browns, with a career 3-14 record in games during the 1895 to 1897 seasons. In 1892, von der Ahe's Browns joined the National League, but a series of poor financial decisions ultimately resulted in his loss of the team and his wealth. Von der Ahe spent his later years tending bar in a small saloon. Von der Ahe died of cirrhosis of the liver in 1913. His grave is adorned by a statute that von der Ahe had commissioned to stand in front of the Browns' ballpark during the teams successful years in the mid-1880s.
Bio by: D. D. Thompson