A Baseball Gentleman: The Story of Connie Mack

Bleacher Report Senior Writer IOctober 26, 2008

Former Philadelphia Athletics manager is the nicest guy you've ever heard of. I guarantee it. He is a true gentleman and a pioneer in baseball.

Mack was born on Dec. 22, 1862 in East Brookfield, MA. He is the son of two Irish immigrants and was quite proud of his heritage.

His birth name was actually Cornelius McGillicudy, an awesome name, might I add. When he changed his name to Mack, he got into baseball.

Mack never made too much of his playing career, but he was rather successful. He played for 10 seasons as a catcher, mostly for the Pirates. He also played for the Washington Nationals and Buffalo Bisons. With them, he had five homers, 265 RBI, and a .245 average. Despite unappealing numbers, he could always find work.

He retired in 1896 as a member of the Pirates. Five seasons later, in 1901, he became manager, general manager, AND part owner of the Philadelphia Athletics. The A's were already pretty talented, with stars on offense like Harry Davis, Nap Lajoie, and Lave Cross. The rotation also had Chick Fraser and Eddie Plank.

Mack quickly let the league know he was a proper guy. Instead of wearing the team uniform like managers did back then and do now, he wore a business suit. He wore a suit and tie, dress pants, dress shoes, and a fedora.

Giants manager John McGraw called the A's "a white elephant." Mack didn't fire back. Instead, he adopted a white elephant as the A's team logo!

As a coach, Mack was the same as he was a guy. He was nice, well tempered, and rarely raised his voice. Instead of reaming his players, his lectures would sound like: "Don't you think you could've done this better?" And the players seldom put up a debate.

He never called his players their nicknames, always their birth names. He always called Chief Bender his real name, Albert. As a coach, he wasn't referred to as "Coach Mack" or just "Coach"; he was "Mr. Mack".

Despite being the meanest athlete ever, Ty Cobb wasn't shy to compliment others, including Mack. "I shall never forget Connie Mack's gentleness and gentility."

Mack was a baseball businessman. He noticed that teams actually make more money getting off to a blazing start and finishing fourth, fifth, or lower. "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."

Mack was loyal to Philadelphia, managing there for 50 years! People might say, "Why do people think he is so great, he had a .486 winning percentage with the A's!" Well, all I have to say to you is: 3,582 wins, nine pennant victories, and five world series rings.

Also, his winning percentage is misleading because he often was forced to rebuild his team. And every time, the team came back to where they started: a dangerous team with a driven manager.

Mack was basically the John Wooden of basketball. In all of his players' memories, he used profanity one time. When he took Robert "Lefty" Grove out of the game, Grove said, "Go take a shit, Connie." Mack didn't get mad, he said, "You go take a shit, Robert."

He retired in 1950, at the age of 87! So he is the John Wooden and Joe Paterno of baseball.

Mack was actually inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame when he was managing, in 1937. He was actually inducted 13 years before retiring. Connie Mack died in 1956.