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Monday, May 2, 2011

Who is Mr. Baseball in Philadelphia?

Today, Roy Halladay(notes), Cliff Lee(notes), Ryan Howard(notes) and Chase Utley(notes) could accurately be referred to as 'Mr. Baseball.' The Philadelphia Phillies are the toast of the town at the moment. Back in the day, Connie Mack owned the city. He and his Philadelphia Athletics were quite a story.
Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy
Connie Mack managed until he was 87 years old.
Sean O'Brien
'The Tall Tactician' also known by another nickname, Connie Mack, began his professional baseball playing career with the Washington Senators in 1886. He spent four years with them before shuffling off to Buffalo. After playing for the Buffalo Bisons in 1890, he went to the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he would spend the last six years of his professional playing career.
Mack had versatile fielding skills. Though he mostly caught, he did spend time at every infield position except third base and also played in the outfield. He finished his career with a .930 fielding percentage and a .245 batting average.
Something happened while he was playing in Pittsburgh that changed his career and the history of baseball. Mack also took on the role of managing the team during the 1894 season. He went 12-10 at the end of that year and then managed two more seasons with the Pirates.
Driving from Pittsburgh to Philly
Mack retired as a player and as a manager in 1896. Five years came and went until he drove across the state of Pennsylvania and became the first manager of the newly formed Philadelphia Athletics in baseball's American League. He was in charge of that Philadelphia team for an astounding 50 years, leading the Athletics to 9 Pennants and 5 World Series Championships. He managed 7,755 total games through the 1950 season, winning 3,731 of them.
The ever dapper Mr. McGillicuddy always wore a suit while in the dugout and also held another interesting distinction. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame by Baseball's Centennial Committee in 1937. So, 'Mr. Baseball' managed for over a decade while being a member of one of sports most distinguished fraternities.
Most people don't have a stadium named, or a statue erected, in their honor. But, most people weren't like Connie Mack and never could have been.
Growing up in the Philadelphia region during the late 1970s and early 1980s naturally enabled everyone to become Philadelphia Phillies fans. My friends and I learned the game on little league fields, through trading cards, and by playing APBA. That era became an important part of our young lives.
Supportive family members and friends, as well as relentless persistence, created an opportunity for me to work in the front office for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in the early 1990s. Today, a new golden era has sparked a resurgence of baseball passion in everyone who never surrendered that feeling of their old school days.

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