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Connie Mack (baseball)

From Academic Kids

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Conniemack.jpg
Connie Mack baseball card, 1910

Cornelius Alexander Mack (December 22, 1862 - February 8, 1956), born Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, was an American professional baseball player, manager and team owner.

Born in East Brookfield, Massachusetts to Irish immigrants, Mack was a journeyman catcher who played 11 seasons in the National League beginning in 1886, before he managed the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1894 to 1896 and then, in 1901, took ownership 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 off and on ever since.

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". Once, when he visited the mound to remove notoriously hot-tempered pitcher Lefty Grove from the game, Grove said, "Go take a [expletive]", when Mack held out his hand for the ball. Mack looked Grove straight in the eye and calmly said, "You go take a [expletive], 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 tight-fistedness 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. His former star pitcher Chief Bender was on the team payroll as a baseball scout from shortly after his retirement as an active player in the 1920's until Mack himself retired as owner-manager in 1950. Veteran players welcomed the opportunity to play for Mack. The 1927 Philadelphia 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 of future Hall of Fame players including veterans Ty Cobb, Zack Wheat and Eddie Collins as well as players such as Grove, Simmons and Cochrane in their prime and rookie Jimmie Foxx. 

Mack managed the Athletics through the 1950 season, when he retired at age 88.

Through his unequalled 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 Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Jack Barry and Stuffy McInnis); and again from 1929-1931 (which featured Hall of Famers Grove, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmie Foxx and Al 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; the first out of outrage when some of his star players started signing lucrative contracts with upstart Federal League teams, and the second due to financial difficulties due to the Great Depression. Besides his five World Series wins and four AL pennants, Mack's teams also finished last 17 times.

Mack was also known by the nickname "The Tall Tactician".

Mack was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1937.

Mack's grandson Connie Mack III was a member of the United States Congress from Florida from 1983-2001. Mack's Great-Grandson Connie Mack IV is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Florida's 14th Congressional District.

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