He was the first and the most respected Connie Mack. He wasn’t a politician and didn’t get in drunken barroom brawls with outfielders, like his great-grandson did in 1992 with the Braves’ Ron Gant in a saloon called Calico’s Jack.
His managing records are beyond reach and beyond even comprehension.
With the news that Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony LaRussa will join the original Connie Mack in the Baseball Hall of Fame I decided to take a look at Mack’s managerial career.
The first thing fans may note is that he’s a Hall of Famer with a career winning percentage of less than .500, .486.
He lost 217 more games than he won. Yet, he won 3,371 games in his managerial career. That’s nearly 1,000 – 1,000! – more than the man second on the list, John McGraw, who won 2,763 games.
Mack managed the Philadelphia A’s from 1901 through 1950. That’s 50 seasons. He was 38 when he started managing the team and kept at it until he was nearly 90.
He brought the A’s to Fort Myers for spring training in 1925 and eventually his descendants would include a U.S. senator and congressman, the aforementioned Connie Mack IV, who mixed it up with Ron Gant in an Atlanta bar. His great-grandfather was, unlike Connie No. 4, a universally respected and sober man.
How long is 50 seasons? He started managing the A’s before the Wright Brothers’ first flight and was still on the job after Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier. When Mack started, there was no commercial radio. When he finished, there was television. When he started the game was all white and by time he finished Jackie Robinson had already played four seasons.
LaRussa is third on the all-time wins list at 2,728. That’s 1,003 fewer than Mack.
Cox is fourth on that list at 2,504. That’s 1,227 fewer than Mack.
Torre is fifth with 2,326 wins. That’s 1,405 fewer than Mack.
All told, the elder Mack spent 65 years in the majors. Can you imagine somebody breaking into the majors as a player in 1948 and just now wrapping up a managing career?
The original Connie Mack was born in 1862, made his big-league debut as a catcher in 1886 and played until 1896. He was a player/manager for three years in Pittsburgh.
In Philadelphia he built two powerhouse teams, the A’s of 1910 through 1914, who won four pennants and three World Series.
Then, after dismantling that juggernaut, the A’s stunk up the league for a few years before Mack assembled one of the greatest teams ever, the 1929-31 A’s, who won three pennants and two World Series.
Although many people nowadays don’t know much about the original Connie Mack, he was a big deal way back when. He was featured on the cover of Time magazine in 1927, the same year Babe Ruth hit 60 homers and Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic.
More recently, a writer named Norman L. Macht has written two volumes of a massive biography on Mack. I reviewed the most recent volume, “Connie Mack, The Turbulent & Triumphant Years, 1915-1931,” for Florida Weekly last year.
What I took away from both installments by Mr. Macht is what a classy gentleman Mr. Mack was in all regards.
When baseball fans talk about records that will never be broken I seldom if ever hear Connie Mack’s name mentioned.
Rest assured on this: There is no way anybody will manage a team for 50 years ever again.
And nobody will break Connie Mack’s record of 3,731 wins. By the way, he also lost 3,948 games.
Connie Mack died Feb. 8, 1956. He was 93.