From Player To Manager
Connie Mack was born Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy on December 22, 1862, in East Brookfield, Massachusetts. He was the third of seven children of Irish immigrants Michael and Mary McKillop McGillicuddy. Cornelius's father died when the boy was a teen, and he went to work in a shoe factory to help support the family. He grew up so tall and thin that friends nicknamed him "Slats." Cornelius became the catcher on his town team, which won the Central Massachusetts championship. In 1884, at age twenty-one, he joined the Meriden, Connecticut team as catcher, making $90 a month. His mother disapproved, because at that time baseball was characterized by drinking, gambling, and fighting. Cornelius reassured her that he would not take part in these activities. True to his word, he never drank or swore, and he forbade his players from drinking alcohol during the baseball season. He later said, "There's room for gentlemen in every profession, and my profession is baseball."
Because Cornelius's name was too long to fit in a newspaper box score, it was shortened to "Connie
Mack," and the name stuck for life. At 6'1" and 150 pounds, straight-backed and blue-eyed, Mack was popular with players and fans. Although he played every position except pitcher and third base, Mack was at his best as a catcher. He came to have great respect for pitchers and believed that pitching made up eighty percent of a game. His ability to analyze pitching became one of the skills that made him so successful as a manager.
After playing for Pittsburgh for four years, Mack was made manager as well as catcher. In 1897 his friend Ban Johnson offered him the managerial job with the minor league Milwaukee team; Mack held that position for four years. When Johnson founded the American League, he offered Mack the Philadelphia franchise. Mack kept twenty-five percent and funded the rest through a partnership with Ben Shibe, the inventor of ball-winding machines. The Philadelphia Athletics played their first game under Mack's management in 1901.