Baseball Wiki
Baseball Wiki

Connie Mack baseball card, 1910

Cornelius Alexander Mack (December 22 1862February 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.

Baseball Hall of Fame
Connie Mack
is a member of
the Baseball
Hall of Fame

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 shit," when Mack held out his hand for the ball. Mack looked Grove straight in the eye and calmly said, "You go take a shit, Robert."

Connie Mack, Time Magazine, 1927

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. Al 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. His coaches actually did most of the "managing" in Mack's final years, particularly his son Earle Mack. Jimmy Dykes did most of the actual "managing" in 1950 as Mack rounded out 50 years in the Philadelphia Athletics' dugout. Dykes took over as manager of record in 1951 and Eddie Joost managed the Atletics in 1954, their last year in Philaelphia.

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." Connie Mack and Burt Shotton of the Brooklyn Dodgers, both of whom managed their last game of record on October 1, 1950, were the last 2 major league managers to manage in civilian clothes (no team uniform).

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 selected to the Hall of Fame in 1937.


  1. Woolf, S. J.. "Tyrus Cobb -- Then and Now; Once the scrappiest, wiliest figure in baseball, 'The Georgia Peach' views the game as played today with mellow disdain", New York Times, September 19, 1948, p. SM17 (Magazine section).

External links

Preceded by:
Al Buckenberger
Pittsburgh Pirates Managers
Succeeded by:
Patsy Donovan
Preceded by:
First Manager
Philadelphia Athletics Manager
Succeeded by:
Jimmy Dykes