The St. Louis Brown Stockings were a professional baseball club based in St. Louis, Missouri, from 1875 to 1877, which competed on the cusps of the existences of two all-professional leagues—the National Association (NA) and the National League (NL). The team is the forerunner of, but not directly connected with, the current St. Louis Cardinals Major League Baseball team. After the conclusion of the 1877 season, a game-fixing scandal involving two players the Brown Stockings had acquired led the team to resign its membership in the NL. The club then declared bankruptcy and folded.
The Brown Stockings did not meet a complete demise, however. Organized by outfielder Ned Cuthbert, a few members of the former club continued to play the following year, though not now bound to any league. They played whomever they could, wherever they could, and still managed to draw crowds and make a profit, leading to play again the following two years. The Brown Stockings regained some of their former success—enough of it that, despite the recent scandal, fans of the team seemed to exhibit a short memory and began to show interest in recreating another professional St. Louis baseball team. In 1881, when German immigrant Chris von der Ahe—owner of a grocery store and saloon who was initially ignorant about baseball—saw the popularity of the club, he bought them out and soon became interested in having the team compete in a professional league. Together with beer magnates in five other cities, the American Association was formed in late 1881, and professional baseball flourished in St. Louis—this time, with the resurrected Brown Stockings the next year.