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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
        I date all my baseball photos using the following book. (Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century: The Official ML BB Guide, Researched, Illustrated & Written by Marc Okkonen, 1991, 1993)

        Also, the following website, hostd by the Hall of Fame, mainly using the same book above, but also using images after 1993, has assisted me in dating some of the photos. http://exhibits.baseballhalloffame.o...e.htm#database

        On this photographic gallery, I have attempted, using the book above, to date all the photos. If I caption a photo with the following, John Smith, Cubs OF, 1910-13, that means that the photo was taken sometime between 1910-13, when the player was on the Cubs. It does NOT mean that the player was only on the Cubs in that time frame. He might have been on the Cubs from 1900-18, but the photo was only taken between 1910-13.
        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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        Photos of the following individual players---Hank Aaron---Pete Alexander---Ty Cobb---Eddie Collins---Sam Crawford---Jimmy Foxx---Lou Gehrig---Rickey Henderson---Rogers Hornsby---Joe Jackson---Walter Johnson---Nap Lajoie---Connie Mack---John McGraw---Mickey Mantle---Christy Mathewson---Willie Mays---Mel Ott---Babe Ruth---George Sisler---Tris Speaker---Pie Traynor---Rube Waddell--- Honus Wagner---Ted Williams---Zack Wheat---Rare Ty Cobb ---Rare Babe Ruth---Bill's Babe Ruth---Rare Ted Williams---Bill's Rare Finds ---Babefan's Fantastic Vintage Baseball photos---GaryL's Boston Public Library Baseball Photo Project

        We also have some very nice, attractive team photo collections---New York Yankees---New York Giants---Detroit Tigers---Pittsburgh Pirates---Brooklyn Dodgers

        ---------------------------------------------------------------------------
        Cornelius McGillicuddy (Connie Mack)

        Born: December 22, 1862, East Brookfield, MA
        Died: February 6, 1956, Philadelphia, PA (Germantown), age 93

        Manager:
        Pittsburgh Pirates, 1894-96
        Philadelphia Athletics, 1901 - 1950

        NL catcher, 1886-96
        Philadelphia Athletics owner, from around the 1940's - early 1950's.

        Baseball's closest thing to a saintly person. Norman L. Macht, Connie's biograopher, insists that there was no middle name of Alexander, contrary to all reference sources.

        Connie's bio as it appeared in 1933's Who's Who
        in Major League Baseball, edited by Harold (Speed) Johnson.


        Connie's Managing Record---Wikipedia---1929


        ---------------------------1929-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1930


        Connie Mack/Lou Comiskey: 1930's------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1929



        ---Connie Mack---------------Showing his troops how, 1943-44, JoJo White------------His Derby hat sits on the ground in the background.


        July, 1952: Bobby Shantz of the Philadelphia A's is
        shown here autographing a ball for Connie Mack.-----------------1948 (All Shots Corbis)----------------------------1929


        --- John J. shakes with Connie Mack before the 1911 World Series.



        May 7, 1921: (All shots Corbis)---------------------------------------------------------------------------July 13, 1922


        August 21, 1949: Connie's Day at Stadium. Peppery and erect Connie Mack, 86-year-old president-manager of the Athletics, steps from dugout to accept plaudits of 64, 323 at the Stadium. Connie was honored by the Yankee organization on his 50th year in the American League. His team helped make the day a success by coming out on top in an exciting see-saw battle.

        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 12-25-2011, 10:14 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Mack/McGraw:

          I rate Connie Mack as the Greatest Manager Ever. I rate McGraw as having the greatest record ever compiled. Contradiction? Not in BurgessLand.

          1. Connie Mack - Pirates (1894-96), Phil. A's ('01-50) BB's closest thing to a saintly person.

          2. John J. McGraw - Balt. (1899-1902), NY Giants (1902-32); From '03-31, 28 yrs., came in lower than 3rd only 5 times.

          Explanation. From '03-31, 28 yrs., McGraw came in lower than 3rd only 5 times. That is a record I doubt can be broken. His strength came from having been a very good player. He was able to routinize his teaching of the different skills, such as fielding, sliding, throwing the ball in on one bounce, etc.

          Since he played in a big market (NY), he seldom had financial problems. He was acknowledged as a master of the trading market. Not a winter would pass by, without him trying to strengthen his squads. He tried in vain since 1920 to buy Rogers Hornsby from Branch Rickey, who wouldn't sell him, even when offered $300K. McGraw also tried to get Cobb in Dec., 1926. But Landis told him, "Lay off, Cobb."

          So the question might be, why would I put Mack over McGraw, if I think McGraw had the better record? Simple. They didn't have a level playing field. McGraw had advantages Mack didn't. And Mack couldn't level the conditions out.

          McGraw, in NYC, had no "blue laws", prohibiting activities on Sundays, after 1919. Mack did not receive his liberation from blue laws until Nov., 1933, and it caused, indirectly, Mack having to break up his teams in 1914, and 1933-35.

          McGraw had fans who supported the Giants no matter what. Mack had fans who refused to come out to the games, and support their local team. And since Mack was legally prevented from playing games on Sundays until 1934, his attendance stunk. Even when he won pennants, he had attendance problems. I put in red, where he won the pennant.
          Code:
          --Yr.---Attend.-----Yr.-----Attend.------Yr.----Attend.------Yr.-----Attend.
          1905-----2nd--------1910-----1st---------1925-----1st--------1930------2nd
          1906-----2nd--------1911-----1st---------1926-----2nd--------1931------2nd
          1907-----2nd--------1912-----3rd---------1927-----4th--------1932------3rd
          1908-----4th--------1913-----2nd---------1928-----2nd--------1933------6th
          1909-----1st--------1914-----5th---------1929-----3rd--------1934------6th
          So one can see from the above chart that Mr. Mack had a real problem getting his fan base to turn out and support their team. And in the days before TV money, fan attendance forms the foundation of a teams income.
          It was bad enough to not be able to play on Sundays until 1934, but poor fan interest really killed the A's. Connie had good teams in all of the above yrs. except perhaps 1934. And he failed to come in the top 3 in attendance 7 times out of 20. This is the reason why he couldn't afford to pay his players well.

          In 1914, the A's finished 1st, but placed only 5th in attendance. When his players wanted increases to match what the Federal L. was dangling in front of them, he couldn't match the Fed's offers. So Plank and Bender jumped to the Federals. And to keep the rest from doing the same, Connie sold his players off, before they could jump, and leave him with nothing.

          I believe that if Mack had no blue laws to cramp his attendance before 1934, he would not have felt compelled to break up his 2 great teams, and hence would have surpassed John McGraws great record. So that is how I justify placing Mack on top, while still feeling that McGraw had the most impressive record, on paper. Different conditions. At least that's how it looks to me.

          Since it bears so heavily on how teams create wealth, I give the following.

          The following cities received their liberation from no-Sunday baseball games "blue laws" in the following years.
          Detroit - 1910,
          Cleveland - 1911,
          New York - 1919,
          Boston - 1929,
          Philadelphia/Pittsburgh - Nov. 8, 1933.
          Wash. DC before 1919.

          Eddie Collins, Connie Mack, Kid Gleason: September 29, 1930.


          -------------1948


          --------------1948


          -------------1920's







          ----------1944-46

          Last edited by Bill Burgess; 03-08-2010, 03:20 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            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


            • #7
              Originally posted by rugbyfreak
              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.

              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.
              I am. I have felt that Connie Mack was overrated for some time. I once posted on another thread much of what you state above, although not as erudite as you have. I got bashed by several posters for besmirching Mack's legacy.
              Mack did seem to have an eye for talent considering the players he signed. But he did not have the desire or the finances to pay them once they were established. I did hear that he took a bath in red ink when the stock market collapsed.
              Another quote I have heard is that Mack said something to the effect that 'fans get bored with winning teams'. In all honesty, out of all the years he had the A's the fans must not have been too bored.
              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-17-2009, 06:47 PM.

              Yankees Fan Since 1957

              Comment


              • #8
                Connie and second wife, Katherine, at 1938 World Series.


                -----------------1912


                -----------------1912


                ------------------1929-30


                Jimmie Foxx/Connie Mack: 1935


                ----------1913

                Attached Files
                Last edited by Bill Burgess; 03-07-2010, 09:48 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  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


                  • #10
                    You know who I think was hurt more by the end of Connie Macks' 2nd dynasty? Indian Bob Johnson. I would say had the A's even won 1 WS during Johnson's tenure, he would probably be a Hall of Famer.

                    Connie shakes with John J. McGraw at 1911 World Series.


                    July, 1940, Comiskey Park.


                    Last edited by Bill Burgess; 06-05-2011, 01:16 PM.
                    AL East Champions: 1981 1982
                    AL Pennant: 1982
                    NL Central Champions: 2011
                    NL Wild Card: 2008

                    "It was like coming this close to your dreams and then watching them brush past you like a stranger in a crowd. At the time you don't think much of it; you know, we just don't recognize the significant moments of our lives while they're happening. Back then I thought, 'Well, there'll be other days.' I didn't realize that that was the only day." - Moonlight Graham

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Very interesting thread with some excellent posts. I have long thought that Mack has been undeservedly neglected. Some questions.

                      1) Did Mack really manage the team in the 40s or was he largely a figurehead?
                      He turned 80 at the end of 1942 and 80 in that era was probably equivalent to 90 in ours. Not many people that age would have been up to managing a ball club and coping with the rigors of frequent wartime travel.

                      2) Why did Mack agree to let the Phillies into Shibe Park in 1938? I assume he welcomed them as paying tenants, but had he said no then they finally would have been forced to move, as they should have years earlier. Surely they'd have been far better off in Baltimore or even Buffalo than in Philadelphia and the A's probably would have increased their attendance by 15-20%, a big difference in a penny-pinching operation.

                      3) Did the A's ever integrate under Mack's ownership? Had they acquired two or three Negro League players they might have been legitimate pennant contenders in 1948-49, but Mack's racial attitudes, which would have been formed in the 1870s, presumably weren't very progressive.

                      4) Is there a standard biography of Mack, such as the equivalent of Alexander's biographies of Cobb and McGraw?
                      Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-17-2009, 06:52 PM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Rome Colonel View Post
                        Is there a standard biography of Mack, such as the equivalent of Alexander's biographies of Cobb and McGraw?
                        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.
                        Last edited by Bill Burgess; 05-17-2009, 06:20 PM.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Rome Colonel View Post
                          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


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by william_burgess@usa.net View Post
                            Mack/McGraw: I rate Connie Mack as the Greatest Manager Ever.
                            I have always given Connie his just due, especially for his 30-year run from '01 to '31, during which he formed not one, but two separate teams that rate way up there as best-evers on any list. His greatest strength by far during his successes was an uncommonly keen eye for talent and a knack for running highly disciplined team environments, owing no doubt to his own demeanor, which exuded calmness, control and respect.

                            Perhaps his greatest feat during these years was taking on the mighty Yankees, fresh off two years of unparallelled dominance ('27 & '28), and not only toppling them, but absolutely dominating them--at their peak, no less.

                            But Bill-greatest ever? Wow, I don't know. You can't just ignore those last 20-plus years, which you like to excuse as simply a matter of no funding available. I see a man who stopped trying to compete, and instead challenged himself to make the dollars work out. From '32 until '54 (the A's last year in Philly), every other AL team--even the Brownies!--managed to win at least one pennant. Oh yeah, Chicago also was shut out, but they had many competitive teams during this time, but kept running into the Yankee hegemony. Bottom line: They were always trying, always tweaking, like the rest of the league, many of whom, like Mack, had razor-thin budgets to work with.

                            Besides, thin budgets are one thing. But that one story about sending just two pitchers on a road game to save train fare (!!!!!!!!) is so off-the-wall cheap that it reframes the concept.

                            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.

                            Matter of fact, many fans during his time probably knew that this was his attitude, so it's no wonder they had attendance problems! And there you are saying, poor Connie, nobody comes to his games. And while it may be true that even his finest teams drew less than one would think, they wouldn't be the first championship team in that quandary. The A's of the '70s were famous for it, so were the Yankees of the early '60s (paid attendance at Maris' 61st homer game in '61: 23,000).

                            Why do you think Brooklyn began looking elsewhere in the '50s? Attendance was dropping steadily, even on this team that won the NL pennant with numbing regularity--and finally broke through in the WS in '55, only to see attendance drop the next year. Do you know that, in their '56 opener, where they unfurled the WS banner, and love was in the air, et al, it was not a sellout?!

                            I don't pretend to know exactly what the perfect formula for attendance is, but Bill Veeck sure had it right when he said that it involves more than simply winning. You must also be somehow interesting. So the A's had the perfect non-attendance going on from '32 to '54: Not only were they God-awful, but they were not in the least bit interesting.

                            You want to give him a pass on the dismantlement of '14, owing to the Fed League threat. Look at your history, Bill (I'm currently writing a book on the Fed League days): MLB was hurling threats at prospective jumpers left and right, saying they would never be welcome in MLB again. And while this proved somewhat hollow in some cases, at the time it was plenty good to deter most of the game's big stars from ultimately making the move. Take a look: The Feds, in the end, most got has-been stars with very little to lose, or unproven youngsters looking for that first big break. But they did NOT bag the big-game fish (Johnson, Cobb, Speaker, etc.), because those guys took the threats seriously.

                            So, given that environment, I say Mack showed no balls at all. He should have called his big stars' bluffs, and said, OK, go if you must, knowing full well that most of them would not. Then he would have kept his team together, or at least a good piece of it.

                            But such a strategem presupposes that an owner cares about a winning team. But Mack, as we know full well, did not care about fielding a winning team--or at least not as much as he did about maintaining the bottom line.

                            As for comparisons with McGraw, I have always given JM the edge. Not even close on game-management, I hope you will agree. And sure, the Giants had a financial edge on the A's, but not as much as you might think. I just read a little bio on Harry M. Stevens, who built an empire from scorecards and hot dogs, and parlayed that into a gold-mine concession exclusive at the Polo Grounds.

                            I read that, when the Grounds burned down in 1911, where did the Giants get the money for the renovation? A personal loan from Stevens, without which it would have been impossible. Then, from 1913 to 1922, they allowed the Yankees to play there. You think they enjoyed that? No, they needed the rent money desperately. (Remember, they, too, were hamstrung by Sunday blue laws until '19, which in NYC had to have cost them millions in lost revenues over the years.)

                            Here's the bottom line: In the franchise's final 20 years in Philly (1935-'54) they finished dead last 11 times, including a particularly brutal run from '35-'46, when they occupied the cellar 9 of 12 years, and next-to-last another 2.

                            I mean, you really have to try to attain that level of ineptitude, because it defies normal, random statistical probability. If you do nothing at all, you'd probably do better. But Connie was doing something, all right. He was on a last-place agenda, where life is cheap, comfortable, and completely devoid of expectations.

                            And who the hell needs expectations, anyway? They're just a pain in the ass. You end up needing better players, who cost more, and if you're not careful, you might end up in the post-season, which means more games and--you guessed it--more train fare. And we simply can't have more train fare.
                            Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-05-2007, 12:36 PM.
                            Thanks for listening!

                            freak

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by rugbyfreak View Post
                              I have always given Connie his just due, especially for his 30-year run from '01 to '31, during which he formed not one, but two separate teams that rate way up there as best-evers on any list. His greatest strength by far during his successes was an uncommonly keen eye for talent and a knack for running highly disciplined team environments, owing no doubt to his own demeanor, which exuded calmness, control and respect.

                              Perhaps his greatest feat during these years was taking on the mighty Yankees, fresh off two years of unparalleled dominance ('27 & '28), and not only toppling them, but absolutely dominating them--at their peak, no less.

                              But Bill-greatest ever? Wow, I don't know. You can't just ignore those last 20-plus years, which you like to excuse as simply a matter of no funding available. I see a man who stopped trying to compete, and instead challenged himself to make the dollars work out. From '32 until '54 (the A's last year in Philly), every other AL team--even the Brownies!--managed to win at least one pennant. Oh yeah, Chicago also was shut out, but they had many competitive teams during this time, but kept running into the Yankee hegemony. Bottom line: They were always trying, always tweaking, like the rest of the league, many of whom, like Mack, had razor-thin budgets to work with.

                              Besides, thin budgets are one thing. But that one story about sending just two pitchers on a road game to save train fare (!!!!!!!!) is so off-the-wall cheap that it re-frames the concept.

                              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.

                              Matter of fact, many fans during his time probably knew that this was his attitude, so it's no wonder they had attendance problems! And there you are saying, poor Connie, nobody comes to his games. And while it may be true that even his finest teams drew less than one would think, they wouldn't be the first championship team in that quandary. The A's of the '70s were famous for it, so were the Yankees of the early '60s (paid attendance at Maris' 61st homer game in '61: 23,000).
                              I will agree with you that Connie should have turned over management of his team somewhere in the mid-1930's. He was just too old to give a game 100% of his mental energy. At that age (73 in 1935), not everyone can sustain the level of mental acuity a ballgame requires. So, I do agree with you on this point.

                              Originally posted by rugbyfreak View Post
                              I don't pretend to know exactly what the perfect formula for attendance is, but Bill Veeck sure had it right when he said that it involves more than simply winning. You must also be somehow interesting. So the A's had the perfect non-attendance going on from '32 to '54: Not only were they God-awful, but they were not in the least bit interesting.
                              I also happen to agree with you on this point, too. The Mets proved that losing isn't necessarily fatal, if you have an innovative 'exploding scoreboard', and cater to the fans at the ballpark.

                              Originally posted by rugbyfreak View Post
                              You want to give him a pass on the dismantlement of '14, owing to the Fed League threat. Look at your history, Bill (I'm currently writing a book on the Fed League days): MLB was hurling threats at prospective jumpers left and right, saying they would never be welcome in MLB again. And while this proved somewhat hollow in some cases, at the time it was plenty good to deter most of the game's big stars from ultimately making the move. Take a look: The Feds, in the end, most got has-been stars with very little to lose, or unproven youngsters looking for that first big break. But they did NOT bag the big-game fish (Johnson, Cobb, Speaker, etc.), because those guys took the threats seriously.
                              You might be right about this scenario, but how can we speculate 100 years later? How can we know if that would have worked? Maybe it would, maybe not.

                              Originally posted by rugbyfreak View Post
                              So, given that environment, I say Mack showed no balls at all.
                              Actually, only Connie, his wife, and personal physician would be qualified to comment on that, and we have no credible reports to this effect from them. Have you read or have access to confidential diaries from secret girlfriends?

                              Originally posted by rugbyfreak View Post
                              He should have called his big stars' bluffs, and said, OK, go if you must, knowing full well that most of them would not. Then he would have kept his team together, or at least a good piece of it.
                              Your scenario is interesting, but what can we do with this theory today?

                              Originally posted by rugbyfreak View Post
                              But such a stratagem presupposes that an owner cares about a winning team. But Mack, as we know full well, did not care about fielding a winning team--or at least not as much as he did about maintaining the bottom line.

                              As for comparisons with McGraw, I have always given JM the edge. Not even close on game-management, I hope you will agree. And sure, the Giants had a financial edge on the A's, but not as much as you might think. I just read a little bio on Harry M. Stevens, who built an empire from scorecards and hot dogs, and parlayed that into a gold-mine concession exclusive at the Polo Grounds.

                              I read that, when the Grounds burned down in 1911, where did the Giants get the money for the renovation? A personal loan from Stevens, without which it would have been impossible. Then, from 1913 to 1922, they allowed the Yankees to play there. You think they enjoyed that? No, they needed the rent money desperately. (Remember, they, too, were hamstrung by Sunday blue laws until '19, which in NYC had to have cost them millions in lost revenues over the years.)

                              Here's the bottom line: In the franchise's final 20 years in Philly (1935-'54) they finished dead last 11 times, including a particularly brutal run from '35-'46, when they occupied the cellar 9 of 12 years, and next-to-last another 2.

                              I mean, you really have to try to attain that level of ineptitude, because it defies normal, random statistical probability. If you do nothing at all, you'd probably do better. But Connie was doing something, all right. He was on a last-place agenda, where life is cheap, comfortable, and completely devoid of expectations.

                              And who the hell needs expectations, anyway? They're just a pain in the ass. You end up needing better players, who cost more, and if you're not careful, you might end up in the post-season, which means more games and--you guessed it--more train fare. And we simply can't have more train fare.
                              I have already agreed with you that Connie should have turned over the dugout management to a younger man around 1937. It was around that time that Connie was able to successfully conclude negotiations with the Shibes to sell him the franchise, if my memory still serves me well. After that, he was owner/manager. He might have been better off as only the owner, with the proper professional advice/counsel. He could have left the dugout commander-ship to someone like Jimmy Dykes, Ty Cobb, Durocher, Frisch, Ruth, etc. For me personally, I think the perfect solution would have been to hire Cobb as his GM, and Babe Ruth as his dugout manager, thereby keeping two wonderful, colorful personalities in the game, and giving the Babe his shot that was his life's desire. And having those 2 work together would have been wonderful for the game too. Don't you agree? Both were available.

                              Actually, Connie did consider bringing Babe in to manage. But after going for a cruise with him around 1933-34, Connie saw how Babe's wife, Claire him completely. She wore the pants, and Connie said, "If I were to turn over my team to him, his wife would be running my team in 2 weeks time."

                              Maybe he could have included a clause in his contract to dump his scag, and then to manage.
                              Last edited by Bill Burgess; 04-07-2007, 09:43 AM.

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