(THE TALL TACTICIAN)
Connie Mack was born Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy but changed his name so that it would fit in a box score. The public during most of Mack’s long tenure as manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics (1901–1950) saw the conservative and dignified gentleman, later elderly gentleman, attired in suit, high collar, and straw hat motioning players into their correct positions with a scorecard seemingly forever in his hand. Mack, when other managers wore the same uniform as their players, was always somewhat apart, almost a stranger in the modern world, a throwback to the early days of baseball when gentlemen played the game, the most conservative of baseball symbols.
It was not always so. As a young man, Connie Mack was far from conservative. A light-hitting catcher from 1886 to 1896, Mack used his defensive ability and quick wit to help his team defeat the opposition. He was not averse to bending the rules a bit. His specialty was imitating the sound of ball against bat by flicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth to get a strike call. When John Montgomery Ward led the creation of the Players League in 1890, the young catcher was one of the jumpers. A decade later, as manager of the Athletics in the new American League, he stood ready to raid the older league and hired away crosstown hero Napoleon Lajoie from the Phillies. When the Phillies succeeded in getting an injunction against Lajoie, Mack traded him to Cleveland.
As the decades passed, however, Mack assumed the persona by which he is still remembered. Along the way, he built and demolished two dynasties and continued to lead the Athletics into his late eighties. Altogether, he won nine pennants and five World Series, accumulating 3,731 wins in 53 years of managing, including three earlier years heading Pittsburgh in the National League. His first great Athletics team dominated in the second decade of the twentieth century. They won their fourth pennant in five years in 1914 with an AllStar cast: pitchers Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, and Jack Coombs; and the $100,000 infield of Stuffy McInnis, Eddie Collins, “Black Jack” Barry, and Home Run Baker.