“Slats” to his friends on the baseball field, Cornelius McGillicuddy to the government, and Connie Mack to the world, Philadelphia’s legendary baseball manager left a mark on the sport, the city, and the country.
Mack began his career as a ball player for the Washington Nationals in 1886, the first of 10 seasons in the National League (plus one other in the Players’ League). As one of the first catchers to position himself behind home plate, Mack would have been known to posterity for that sleight innovation – if it weren’t for his prolific and legendary managing career that followed.
Following his playing career in 1896, Mack began working as a manager for a minor league team of the Milwaukee Brewers. Success there (which included a cut of the proceeds) led him to a larger position with the American League’s new Philadelphia Athletics, for which Mack would serve as manager, treasurer, and part owner.
Mack would lead the Athletics for 50-years winning 5 World Series and one American League Championship in the years before the major series had been introduced. “The Tall Tactician” this steely-faced Irishman preached personal discipline, but in person he was easygoing and kind. Mack believed strongly in personal character and self-motivation. This was the era of progressivism and self-improvement, no doubt.
It’s difficult for any person to have a career that long without suffering some incidents. At the time there were accusations of mismanagement and cheapness, common complaints even today for a Philly sports fan. After these complaints reached a boil when the Athletics fell into the second division, and the neither Mack nor the Philadelphia Athletics would never seriously chase the pennant again.
Mack said when he retired, “I’m not quitting because I’m getting old, I’m quitting because I think people want me to.”
Shibe Park (located on Lehigh Ave between 20th and 21st St), where the A’s had played, was renamed Connie Mack Stadium in 1953.
Shibe Park was also home to the “$100,000 infield”, a nickname for a group of players, based on the the purported market value of the four infielders who lead the Athletics to championships in 1910, 1911, and 1913.
After that, the new and well-financed Federal League enacted regulations that shifted the power balance and made it more difficult for Mack to compete.
Mack is buried in the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery located in Glenside, PA, although he had lived in Mt. Airy while he was a manager.