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  • Connie Mack General Thread

    I thought it was time to start a general thread for managers and it is proper to start with one of the giants, Connie Mack. I've alwasy been fascinated by Connie Mack ever since I stared reading baseball books in the 1970s. As a kid I wanted to know why his name was "Connie" which I thought was a girl's name. Mack was famous for his proper attire, ettiquete, referring to his ballplayers by their first names, his stinginess with money, and later his his racist views. Here's a short bio:

    Cornelius Alexander Mack (December 22, 1862 – February 8, 1956), born Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, was an American professional baseball player, manager, and team owner. Considered one of the greatest managers in Major League Baseball history, he holds records for wins, losses, and games managed. He managed the Philadelphia Athletics for 50 consecutive seasons. Besides his five World Series wins and nine American League pennants, Mack's teams also finished last 17 times.

    Born in East Brookfield, Massachusetts to Irish immigrants, Mack was a journeyman catcher who played 11 seasons in the National League beginning in 1886, the last three as a player-manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1894 to 1896. In 1901, he became manager, general manager and part owner of the fledgling American League's Philadelphia Athletics. When New York Giants manager John McGraw called the Athletics "a white elephant nobody wanted," Mack adopted a white elephant as the team's logo, which the Athletics have used for all but a few years since. However, he also cut a distinctive figure himself with his personal rejection of wearing a team uniform in favour of a business suit, tie and fedora.

    He later became a full partner with Athletics owner Ben Shibe. Under an agreement with Shibe, Mack had full control over baseball matters while Shibe handled the business side. When Shibe died in 1922, his sons took over management of the business side. When the last of Shibe's sons died in 1936, Mack became the full owner.


    I shall never forget Connie Mack's gentleness and gentility.
    —Ty Cobb, New York Times [1]



    On the field, Mack was quiet, even-tempered and gentlemanly, serving as a father figure to his players as much as a coach, and was universally addressed as "Mr. Mack." He always called his players by their given names. Chief Bender, for instance, was "Albert" to Mack.

    Veteran players welcomed the opportunity to play for Mack. The 1927 Athletics, though nowhere near as famous as the New York Yankees team of the same year, was probably one of the best second-place teams in history, featuring several future Hall of Fame players including veterans Ty Cobb, Zack Wheat and Eddie Collins as well as players such as Lefty Grove, Al Simmons and Mickey Cochrane in their prime and rookie Jimmie Foxx. Once, when he visited the mound to remove the notoriously hot-tempered Grove from a game, Grove said, "Go take a ****," when Mack held out his hand for the ball. Mack looked Grove straight in the eye and calmly said, "You go take a ****, Robert."

    Mack was also tight-fisted. Seeing baseball as a business, he once confided that it was more profitable to have a team get off to a hot start, then ultimately finish fourth. "A team like that will draw well enough during the first part of the season to show a profit for the year, and you don't have to give the players raises when they don't win," he said. The most famous example of Mack's stinginess came on July 10, 1932, when the Athletics played a one-game series with the Cleveland Indians. To save train fare, Mack only brought two pitchers. The starting pitcher was knocked out of the game in the first inning, leaving only knuckleballing relief pitcher Eddie Rommel. Rommel pitched 17 innings and gave up 33 hits, but won the game, 18-17.

    Mack also had his generous side for players in need. For instance, he kept Bender on the team payroll as a scout, minor league manager or coach from 1926 until Mack himself retired as owner-manager in 1950. Simmons was a coach for many years after his retirement as a player.

    Mack managed the Athletics through the 1950 season, when he retired at age 88. His 50-year tenure as Athletics manager is the most ever for a coach or manager in North American professional sports with just one team and will likely never be threatened. He remained owner and president (though his sons took an increasing role during this time) until the Athletics moved to Kansas City, Missouri after the 1954 season.

    Through his unequaled 53 seasons as a manager, he won nine pennants, appeared in eight World Series and won five of them. He built two dynasties: from 1910-1914 (which featured Mack's famous "$100,000 infield" of Collins, Home Run Baker, Jack Barry and Stuffy McInnis); and again from 1929-1931 (which featured Hall of Famers Grove, Cochrane, Foxx and Simmons). His 1911 and 1929 teams are considered by many to be among the greatest baseball teams of all time, and his 3,776 lifetime wins are a major league record—as are his 4,025 losses and 7,878 games managed.

    Mack twice dismantled his dynasties. He broke up his first great team out of outrage when some of his star players started signing lucrative contracts with upstart Federal League teams. They reportedly "laid down" during the 1914 World Series, in which the heavily favored A's were swept by the Boston Braves, a team that had surged from last place on the Fourth of July to the National League pennant. Mack sold, traded or released most of the stars who didn't jump (Collins being one of the notable exceptions). The collapse was swift and total; the team crashed from 99 wins in 1914 to 43 wins in 1915 and last place. His 1916 team, with a 36-117 record, is often considered the worst team in American League history, and its .235 winning percentage is still the lowest ever for a modern (post-1900) big-league team. All told, the A's finished last seven years in a row from 1915 to 1921, and did not contend again until 1925.

    He broke up his second great team due to financial difficulties due to the Great Depression. He had every intention of building another winner, but he never invested any money in a farm system. While the Athletics finished second in 1932 and third in 1933, they fell into the cellar in 1935 and finished either last or next-to-last all but once through 1946. Aside from 1948 and 1949, Mack's teams were never again a factor past June.

    Mack was also known by the nickname "The Tall Tactician" and, in his later years, the "Grand Old Man of Baseball."

    Mack's son Earle Mack played several games for the A's between 1910 and 1914, and also managed the team for parts of the 1937 and 1939 seasons when his father was too ill to do so. In more recent years, his descendants have taken to politics: Mack's grandson Connie Mack III was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida from 1983-1989 and the United States Senate from 1989-2001, and great-grandson Connie Mack IV was elected to the House from Florida's 14th Congressional District.

    Mack was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937.
    Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 03-29-2007, 01:06 PM.
    Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

  • #2
    Seeing baseball as a business, he once confided that it was more profitable to have a team get off to a hot start, then ultimately finish fourth. "A team like that will draw well enough during the first part of the season to show a profit for the year, and you don't have to give the players raises when they don't win," he said.
    While his prominent place in baseball history is secure and undeniable, when I found out the above story about him, his stock went WAY down in my book. Then about a year ago I read the book, Connie Mack's '29 Triumph: The Rise and Fall of the Philadelphia Athletics Dynasty, since I had never studied up on him. He was just always the guy who had been old all his life.

    As I learned more about Mack, a pattern began to emerge. There's nothing wrong with viewing baseball as a business. MOF, it is essential for an owner to always keep that fact in his sights. But in looking at the history of the Phila. A's, which is inseparable from the career of Connie Mack, you realize that Mack's business approach is so complete and literal that it completely ignores all sense of accountability to the fan base. While any baseball man sometimes has to make tough, bottom-line decisions for the greater good of the franchise, the successful ones balance these interests with those of their fan base whenever possible. From what I've read, Connie never even factored in the fans in his decisions, choosing to run his team like some mom and pop grocery store.

    Those brief periods during his first 30-plus years did produce some competitive A's teams, but the moment that this became inconvenient for him, he thought nothing of tearing them down in an utterly complete fashion. Twice he did this; the first time, in 1914, seems to have been simply out of spite over rumours of player-jumping to the Fed League. Fearing that those who stayed might use the threat of leaving to gain salary raises, he sold them all, precipitating a lightning-quick into the AL cellar. There he stayed until the late '20s, but as the latter part of his career would prove, Connie was quite comfortable in the cellar. After all, it was cheaper.

    We could perhaps give him a semi-pass for the second dismantlement, begun in '32, since he had incurred some setbacks in the Depression. But for the remainder of his career, he showed absolutely no interest in building up a contender again, even after his financial situation had improved.

    Excuse me, but isn't this the implied duty and obligation of an owner: To do everything in his power to continue to improve his team? Doesn't every owner owe the fans this effort?

    When I look at the history of this franchise, I see a beleagured fan base held hostage for too long by a doddering, selfish old man who cared little about the interests of the people whose money paid his bills.

    On top of it all, he refused, even as he entered his 80s, to gracefully step aside and let younger men run the team. He saw nothing wrong with sitting on the bench, game after game, battling merely to stay awake, occasionally mustering up the effort to wave that scorecard.

    Oh wait, I take it back. He did eventually bring on a younger assistant to step in when needed: His son, Earle, wholly unqualified for the job to begin with, with no opportunity to grow, since Connie never really gave him the team in--what was it, 30-plus?--all his years at Connie's side.

    Finally, even at the very end, at 88 years old and near death, Mack bitterly refused to give his heirs his blessing in the sale of the team. He quarrelled over nickels and dimes with the buyers from Kansas City. Not that the franchise was worth much at that time; he had run in so deeply into the ground, it was a miracle he had any takers at all.

    You guys think I'm being overly harsh on the "Tall Tactician?" I hope not. I consider it inconceivable for a guy who had spent eons around baseball not to recognize that you cannot run a team in a business vacuum, that a relationship with its fans must enter into the dynamic. Therefore, what choice do we have but to conclude that Mack selfishly, irresponsibly and knowingly shirked that essential element of his job? And any owner with that dismissive an attitude not only doesn't deserve paying fans, he has no business owning a team.

    Who's with me on the Connie Mack Revisionist View team? Hard to believe he has been given essentially a free pass for this long.
    Thanks for listening!

    freak

    Comment


    • #3
      'freak,

      You make some very good points. After 1932 Mack did basically nothing with the A's. Think of the all the great players he brought to the A's with his two dynasties, Baker, Bender, Collins, Joe Jackson, Grove, Foxx, Cochrane, etc. After 1932 he didn't develop any. He refused to invest in a farm system. Basically the business of baseball passed him by. Mack had two great runs:

      1901-1914
      3 World Series titles
      6 AL pennants
      2 2nd place finishes
      1 losing season

      1925-1933
      2 World Series titles
      3 AL pennants
      4 2nd place finishes


      The kind of owner that Mack was would never last today. He'd be buried by the likes of George Steinbrenner and Art Moreno.
      Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 03-29-2007, 01:04 PM.
      Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

      Comment


      • #4
        Awesome post Bill. I do see one difference, though. Mack was also the owner and McGraw was not. Even with the blue laws Mack still build two of baseball's greatest dynasties. At what point do you think that Mack should have retired? I think having a career losing record hurts his legacy in some ways. The last 15 years managing were simply a waste. He should have stepped down as manager and focused on being the GM and owner.
        ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Connie's Board of Strategy: 1927
        L-R: Kid Gleason, Ty Cobb, Connie Mack, Eddie Collins.


        March 22, 1927, Spring Training, Clearwater, FL
        L-R: Zack Wheat, Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb, Connie Mack.


        March 22, 1927: L-R: Eddie Collins, Connie Mack, Ty Cobb.


        March 12, 1927: Philadelphia training camp in Ft. Myers Florida.
        L-R: Kid Gleason, Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb, Zack Wheat, Connie Mack.



        1927: Ty Cobb veteran Star baseball Payer, bidding farewell to Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics with which team Cobb played in 1927. Cobb announced his retirement from baseball.


        February 10, 1927: Ty formally signs to play for Connie Mack's A's for the 1927 season. Tom Shibe, owner of the team, looks on.


        November 2, 1927: So soon as waivers are received from all American League clubs, Ty Cobb will be free to negotiate for another job for next year. He was cut adrift by the Athletics, who are unable to continue his high salary-believed to be 60,000 and bonus. Ty (right) is shown with Manger Connie Mack during conference preceding announcement of release in Philadelphia.



        December 22, 1935: On his 73rd birthday.

        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-31-2011, 12:34 PM.
        Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

        Comment


        • #5
          Bill,

          Do you have any photos of Mack as a player? I still can't believe he was a catcher!

          Connie Mack 1887 Washington Nationals

          Bill! You da man! :bowdown:
          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 10-24-2009, 02:28 PM.
          Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Rome Colonel
            Did the A's ever integrate under Mack's ownership?
            Not until September 1953 when they brought up a pitcher named Bob Trice:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Trice

            By then the franchise had barely a year left in Philadelphia. Ironically, the Phillies didn't integrate until 1957.

            Comment


            • #7
              If Mack had money to play with, he would have dynasties that even the Yankees couldn't match. He lived "from hand-to-mouth" with the As, and had to sell-off his stars to get money to make payrolls. Look at the number of Hall of Famers who played for him, and had to be dealt away.

              I remember Mack directing his players from the dugout, with a rolled-up scorecard. He was one of the two managers allowed in the dugout in civvies, after the rule was changed.

              Bob

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by rugbyfreak
                And the clincher, the bombshell: That statement about his ideal team being competitive, but ultimately falling short, because then no raises were in order. I'm sorry, once I hear that from my owner, he and I are through.

                I agree. That comment plus the one he made saying something to the effect (I can't remember the exact words), 'That fans get bored with winning teams', really upsets me.

                I give Connie Mack his due for putting together, not one, but two of the greatest dynasties in baseball history. But he broke apart those teams for whatever reason. Strangely, both times were after losing a WS. When the A's lost to the Boston Braves in 1914 and later after they lost in 1931 to the Cardinals.

                The 1914 version has been mottled with suspicions tha the A's threw that WS. Connie may well have believed they did too. Connie Mack was very upset with his team after that WS. Specifics were shaded. Mack hinted that some things were not right. This comes out of the biography of Chief Bender: Money Pitcher. Mack comes out in that book in a very good light. Bender had lots of respect for Mack despite feeling he was well underpaid. Both Bender and Plank were nearing the end, threatening to jump to the Fed League. Mack let them go. He got rid of Eddie Collins. Others as well and the A's fell to the bottom of the AL.

                In 1931, I do suspect that Mack may have broken up the team due in part to financial constraints. I don't think Mack was as strapped for cash as some claim. He wasn't Jacob Ruppert but he also wasn't on a shoestring either. look at what he paid out for to sign some of his stars. I think he took a serious hit when the stock market crashed.

                But like RugbyFreak, what transpired after that, all the losing seasons, is what in my opionon drags Mack down in my estimation. many say, 'Poor Connie, he just couldn't compete'. I say I'm not sure he wanted to anymore. I think the end for the A's really came when the Carpenter's brought into the Phillies. With the tons of duPont money at their disposal, the A's days in Philly were numbered.

                Is Connie Mack in the top 10 greatest managers ever? For sure. Is he the greatest ever? No, not by a long shot in my opinion.

                Yankees Fan Since 1957

                Comment


                • #9
                  Anyway, what's the story about Mack suspecting some of his boys were on the take during the 1914 World Series?
                  Last edited by Honus Wagner Rules; 04-09-2007, 10:14 AM.
                  Strikeouts are boring! Besides that, they're fascist. Throw some ground balls - it's more democratic.-Crash Davis

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Back to Mack...although he did have some success, it's small in comparison to the amount of inept teams he put out. It's safe to say that the 7 consecutive last place teams he had after winning the 1914 pennant is a record no other manager will match. And in his final 17 years as manager, only one time did he have a team that didn't finish in the second division. Included in that run were 10 last place teams.

                    Of course, the reason he was never fired was that he owned the team. I'd imagine in those days that he pretty much got a free pass by the press. Today, the pressure brought on by the media to resign would be too much, even if someone owned and managed the team. There would be a daily Connie Mack "Senility Update" on ESPN or something.

                    Mack reminds me a bit of Henry Ford, someone else who had some great success in the early part of the 20th Century, but had trouble adapting to the changes and hung around waaay too long. I read somewhere that Ford Motor Co. was virtually bankrupt by the late 1930's, due to Henry's arcane marketing and accounting practices and probably would have vanished, like so many of the early auto companies, had WW2 and the switch to military production saved Ford. By post WW2 Henry Ford was finally out of the picture-no such luck for the Philly A's and their fans, Mack wouldn't leave.
                    It Might Be? It Could Be?? It Is!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Saturday, January 7, 1933 Philadelphia: Baseball's elite gather in the City of Brotherly Love for the funeral of Kid Gleason, veteran baseball legend and manager of the ill-fated 1919 White Sox.
                      L-R: John J. McGraw, Commissioner Landis, Connie Mack, Thomas Shibe (Athletics' president).

                      Brownie31
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 08-17-2009, 08:52 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Wow! mack was 88 when he retired; I was thinking he was that old when he died! And I thought Bob Feller looked in good shape at that old-timers game a couple weeks ago!

                        If he doesn't take that cruise, then he probablyi does sign Ruth to manage the club? That would be interesting? And, it might have been the death of the Phillies. Which, as you say, might have helped attendance a bit.

                        I wonder if, after easing himself out of managing lik4e that, he'd have sold the club? Might have been nice to get the Carpenters into Philadelphia to run the Athletics in time for the Whiz Kids to be there. He'd need to ease himself out, but perhaps he culd bring in some coowners who had some money.
                        If Baseball Integrated Early - baseball integrated from the beginning - and "Brotherhood and baseball," the U.S. history companion, at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/Baseballifsandmore - IBIE updated for 2011.

                        "Full House Chronology" at yahoo group fullhousefreaks & fullhouse4life with help of many fans, thanks for the input

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by [email protected]
                          Norman Macht has been working on the definitive Connie Mack biography for many, many years. Last time I spoke with him, he was up to 1925! But that was about 6 years ago. He might be up to the 1930's, by now.

                          Hope it's worth the wait.
                          I would like to serve notice that Norman L. Macht's biography on Connie Mack will likely go on the market by September, 2007. It will only goes up to 1914. He has divided the biography into Volume 1 and Volume 2.

                          He is still working on his research on Volume 2. Here is an email he sent me.
                          -----------------------------------
                          Date: Fri, 24 Aug 2007 05:53:23 PM PDT
                          From: [email protected] Add to Address Book Block Sender Allow Sender

                          To: Bill Burgess <[email protected]>
                          Subject: Mack family Allow Subject

                          Bill:
                          Just a quick note to let you know I divided Mack's bio into two; volume 1 goes through 1914 and was supposed to be out by June; it's now due in September from U of Nebraska Press.
                          Norman
                          ----------------------------------------------
                          Hope this helps. His book should be a good, well-research one. He's been working on it for a very long time.
                          -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                          Good brothers and sisters. I have good news. Norman L. Macht will register here and for a brief time, straighten out some inaccuracies for us with respect to Connie, that I did not know.

                          Norman has been working on Connie for 22 years, and it has all went into his first volume on Connie, which will come out this September. And it will be about 800 pages! He is still working on completing the second volume which will cover 1915-1955.

                          With all that researching, I'd say that Norm is the most knowledgable Connie Mack guy I know. He should have good photos too. I think Connie's son, Connie Mack, Jr., helped him. He tells me that Connie was never the 100% owner of the Athletics.

                          So, he will give us the details of when Ida Shibe sold the team to him, how big a majority owner he was, etc.
                          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 09-02-2007, 12:35 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Connie Mack myths

                            There has been more misinformation written and believed about Connie Mack than any other baseball personality. Much of it resaults from so-called istorians who simply repeat other historians, with nobody ever doing any research. That's why I ignored what has been written and took 22 years to research just the first half of Mack's life - through 1914 - for my book due out this month.
                            To answer a few of the myths repeated on this website:
                            Mack had no middle name Alexander.
                            None of Mack's star players jumped to the Feds. Mack was already through with Bender and Plank when they jumped after the 1914 season. Bender did nothing after that; Plank had a winning season in what was really no more than a minor league.
                            Mack had no reputation for being stingy or tight-fisted until latter-day "historians" started pinning it on him The example cited of the July 10, 1932 one-day trip to Cleveland when he took only two pitchers was typical of the time for eastern teams that couldn't play at home on Sundays.
                            Every team cut salaries when the NL and AL signed a peace treaty, and again after the Federal League folded. Every team traded or sold players for payroll reasons - just as they do today.
                            The story that the A's "reportedly laid down" in the 1914 World Series is pure bunk. There were no such reports, then or later. Somebody made it up as a reason Mack "brokeup" his team immediately after the Series, which is also nonsense. The fact is he sold only one player - Eddie Collins - in December 1914. Just one - and for the reasons behind that sale - you'll have to read the book.
                            Connie Mack was never the sole owner of the team.
                            Norman

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Did Mack do well financially on a personal basis?

                              His contemporary Clark Griffith owned a big house on diplomat's row, supported two families and did well with rentals of his park to the Negro leagues and the Redskins. In fact, Griffith's partner never even directly paid his loan to purchase the club - he just used the yearly dividend checks from the club to pay off the loan.

                              Griffith owned about 20% of the Senators as of the mid 1910s and 60% as of December 1919.

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