October 25, 2004

McGillicuddy and McGraw

Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy changed his last name and became forever known as Connie Mack. After eleven seasons as a catcher in the major leagues, he managed for a couple of years and then bought the Philadelphia Athletics in 1901. 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 off and on ever since.

Connie Mack loved baseball, but he never let himself forget that it was 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 tight-fistedness 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.

Mr. Mack managed the A's until 1951, when he retired at age 81. In all, he managed 7,878 games, ending up with 3,776 wins and 4,025 losses. Each of those numbers is the major league record.

In the 1890's, the Baltimore Orioles were first a National League team before moving to the American League. Their 3rd baseman during those years was John McGraw. He displayed a talent for innovation within the game and his desire to win was fierce. Among his credits, he helped develop the hit-and-run and suicide squeeze play. McGraw was an excellent player, hitting over .320 nine seasons in a row and leading the majors in runs scored twice.

After retiring from the field, he took charge as manager of the New York Giants. In 31 years as manager, his teams won 10 pennants, finished second 11 times and took home three World Series trophies.

His 2,840 wins rank only behind Connie Mack in baseball history. On July 6, 1933, John McGraw came out of retirement to manage the NL in the first All-Star Game. He died less than a year later.

One interesting article I found while researching this talks about John McGraw and the Negro Leagues.

McGraw was a man ahead of his time. He tried to sneak a man past baseball's Color Barrier nearly fifty years before Branch Rickey. In 1901 as a manager of the old Baltimore Orioles McGraw brought second baseman Charlie Grant to training camp. Claiming that Grant was actually "Chief Tokohama," a Native American, McGraw hoped to use Grant's talents in the coming year's pennant chase. The problem with this was that Grant was by no means a Native American. He had played the previous year for the Columbia Giants, a Negro Leagues outfit. Charles Comiskey caught wind of this and the hammer came down. That season Charlie Grant again played for the Columbia Giants.

The article has plenty more about not just John McGraw, but other players who could look past race and enjoy playing the game with other men who loved it too.

Posted by Ted at October 25, 2004 05:07 AM
Category: History

Great post! I love this stuff!

It still thrills me to tell Yankees fans that their beloveds were once upon a time a National League team. In fact, they date back to the American Association. When the AA broke up they were absorbed by the NL.

Then when the NL "contracted" in '00 the Baltimore Orioles were left out in the cold for a year until the AL was formed for the 1901 season. In '03 they moved to New York and were nicknamed "the Hilltoppers" for a while until the name "Yankees" stuck.

What a great time of year for baseball talk.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at October 26, 2004 12:18 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Site Meter