There will be one plaque missing today as the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame opens up today as a part of the Cardinals Opening Day festivities. To be technical, there are two plaques missing as catcher Ted Simmons should have been inducted by the BBWAA many years ago and the veterans committee has yet to rectify that error.
Chris von der Ahe, the founder of the franchise that became the Cardinals, will not have a plaque in the Hall of Fame. His story was shared last year in Ed Achorn’s book, The Summer of Beer and Whiskey: How Brewers, Barkeeps, Rowdies, Immigrants, and a Wild Pennant Fight Made Baseball Americas Game.
The mere fact that von der Ahe will not be amongst the inaugural class of inductees is not just a shame but a tragedy. It ought to be rectified in the same way that Stan Musial was allowed to be included in the Major League Baseball All-Century Team in 1999.
When von der Ahe bought the franchise, his chief mission, of course, was to sell more beer but he also wanted to make games affordable for lower paying spectators. This led to a two-tiered admission at the gates in the American Association. The Association also allowed for games on Sunday while the National League did not.
Achorn makes the case to include von der Ahe in the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. I agree with Achorn in that he should have a plaque. But where is von der Ahe’s plaque when the Cardinals open their own Hall of Fame?