Connie Mack: Biography
Summary of the life and baseball career of Connie Mack.
Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy was born in East Brookfield, Massachusetts on December 22, 1862. His father worked in cotton mills and shoe factories around Brookfield and when he died, he was forced to quit school and work to help support the family. He also found time to play baseball with some local teams. Later on, he adopted the name Connie Mack.
Mack joined Meriden of the Connecticut State League in 1884. He spent the next year playing with Hartford of the North East Connecticut League except for one game that he played for Newark in the Eastern League. Hartford joined the Eastern League in 1886 and Mack was their catcher in 69 games. In September, the Washington Nationals, who were in the National League, acquired him. Mack's batting average that year was .361 for 10 games, which earned him the starting position as catcher for the following year. After the 1889 season with Washington, Mack went to Buffalo of the Players League. He invested some of his money into the team, which most likely explains his career high 123-game appearances for that season. The Players League dissolved after its first year. Mack went to Pittsburgh in 1891, which was the first year the team took on the name of Pirates. Mack led all National League catchers in fielding average for 1892. In 1893, Pittsburgh made a strong run for the pennant but Mack was injured in a game against Boston and ended up finishing second. Boston had a runner on third and first. The first-base runner made a move toward second and Mack threw the ball and then positioned himself to block home plate from the third-base runner. The return throw wasn't directly to Mack and he had to lean to catch it and the third-base runner slammed into Mack's ankle as he came into home plate. Mack's fractured ankle cost him his speed and agility. He played only 3 seasons after that as a part-time catcher.
Late in 1894, when the Pirates were struggling, Mack was named as manager. Mack posted a winning record with the Pirates in 1895 and 1896 but was fired after a dispute with an interfering owner. In 1897, Mack became manager of the Milwaukee team in the Western League and in 1900 that league changed its name to the American League. League president Ban Johnson announced that the American League would begin competing directly against the National League.
When Ben Shibe was granted a franchise in Philadelphia named the Athletics, he named Mack to be manager. Mack was also an owner of 25% of the club. In 1902, Mack led the A's to their first pennant with help from the pitching talents of Rube Waddell and Eddie Plank. In 1905, Mack and the A's won another pennant but fell short in the World Series to the New York Giants. Over the next few years, Mack rebuilt his team and they went on to win pennants in 1910, 1911, 1913 and 1914. The A's also won World Series Championships in 1910, 1911 and 1913 before being upset by the lightly regarded Boston Braves in 1914. The Federal League began offering National and American League players very lucrative offers and luring them away from many teams they had once been loyal to. By 1915, after losing such standout players as Eddie Plank and Chief Bender, the A's went into a slump and stayed in last place for seven seasons.
Mack slowly revived the A's by adding a player at a time. He recruited future Hall of Fame players including Mickey Cochrane, Lefty Gomez, Al Simmons, and Jimmie Foxx. When they were added to his list of stable players like Jimmy Dykes, Bing Miller, George Earnshaw, Mule Haas, Rube Walberg, and Max Bishop, things began to look up for the A's. The A's finished second in the league in 1927 and 1928 and won the league pennant in 1929. Mack's team won back-to-back World Series Championships in 1929 and 1930. In 1931, they also won the league pennant before being upset in the World Series by the St. Louis Cardinals.
In the midst of the Great Depression, Mack was forced to sell off many of his big stars that had high paying contracts. By 1935, the A's were back to square one. In the following 12 years they finished in last place 9 of those years. Mack still managed to find and develop a few good young players but often had to sell them off before they became big stars.
Mack managed his last first-division team in 1948 when he was 85 years old. They finished in fourth place. Mack retired following the 1950 season when the A's again finished last. Mack's career lasted 53 seasons and in that time he amassed 3,731 wins to his 3,948 losses, which were all-time records. He was named to Baseball's Hall of Fame in 1937. Mack died on February 8, 1956 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is buried there at Holy Sepulchre.