Cornelius Alexander McGillicuddy, known as Connie Mack, spent part of eight decades associated with Major League Baseball as first a player, then a manger, and finally an owner. For 50 years he served as manager and owner of the Philadelphia Athletics where he set records that will likely never be matched in wins (3,731), losses, (3,948), and games managed (7,755).
One of the first two manages elected to the Hall of Fame in 1937, Mack managed some of baseball’s best teams on the way to five World Series titles, and some of the worst teams after selling off his best players. On September 3, 1894, Mack managed his first game as player-manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 22-1 thrashing of the Washington Senators. As we near the 123rd anniversary of that event, here is a look at Connie Mack’s best baseball cards.
1887 Old Judge (N172)
As a player Connie Mack was not a standout, although he did lead the league in being hit by pitches in 1890. In 1887 Mack was a 24-year-old catcher for the Washington Nationals. Like most Old Judge cards, Mack featured on a number of different variations. There is a batting pose where he is identified as either ‘C.’ or ‘Catcher’, a stoop hands on knee pose where he is again identified as ‘C.’ or ‘Catcher’, and a throw pose where he is identified as either ‘Catcher, C. Mack’ or ‘Catcher, Mack’.
1910 Anonymous “Set of 30” (E98)
In 1910 Connie Mack won his third American League pennant and, more importantly, his first World Series title over the Chicago Cubs. In the “Anonymous” Set of 30 Mack appears in lithograph form as most imagine him — seated on the bench in shirt and tie. The card features either a blue, green, orange or red back. PSA has graded 40, with 18 coming from the Black Swamp find that all have red backs, while SGC has graded 46, including one with an ‘Old Put’ back.
At least a couple of E98 Mack cards are usually available on eBay.
1910 Philadelphia Caramel (E96)
The 1910 Philadelphia Athletics posted a record of 102 and 48 and featured an impressive cast of Hall of Famers including second baseman Eddie Collins, third baseman Frank Baker, and pitchers Chief Bender and Eddie Plank. Athletics card were plentiful during this era, and the local Philadelphia Caramel Co. — based in Camden, NJ — was eager to capitalize on the popularity by including four Athletics in their 30 card set. A portrait of Mack — in suit and tie — appears in sharp contrast against a red background. PSA has graded this card 38 times, while SGC has graded 44 of them.
E96 Macks are relatively inexpensive with lower grade examples priced at $2o0-$500.
1911 Cullivan’s Fireside Phila. A’s (T208)
The Philadelphia won the World Series again in 1911, defeating the New York Giants, and nearly matching their 1910 mark with 101 wins. One abnormality was that Connie Mack did not appear in the massive 1901-11 T206 set that has become the most iconic set in the hobby.
This set, which featured only members of the world champion Athletics, is a rare example of Mack appearing on a tobacco card. It features the standard Mack portrait of the era, with the World’s Champions 1910 text and elephant mascot logo added. It marks one of the first examples of a team logo to appear on a trading card. This card is something of a rarity as PSA has only graded 1 and SGC has only graded 4.
There are often a few cards of players in the Cullivan’s set on eBay.
1911 Sporting Life (M116)
1911 marked the second of three championships for the Athletics within a three year span. It was in game two of this series that Frank Baker hit a home run off fellow hall of famer Rube Marquard of the New York Giants where he earned the moniker ‘Home Run’ Baker that would carry with him for the rest of his career.
Mack managed many Hall of Famers during his half century of managing the Athletics and this era marked one of his two great dynasties. Despite this success, finding example of Mack cards in high population figures is difficult as he was not included in mass produced, national issues such as T206 and T205. The Sporting Life set offers an affordable Mack example which PSA and SGC have both graded 29 times.
1914 Cracker Jack
Appearing within the lyrics to Take Me Out to the Ballgame Cracker Jack became cemented as baseball’s favorite snack. In 1914 and 1915 the confectioner included what would become one of the most popular and sought after trading card sets of all time. Mack appeared in both sets, but it was 1914 when the A’s won their fourth American League pennant in five years, but lost the World Series to the ‘Miracle Braves’.
According to baseball stats guru Bill James the 1914 As boasted the best infield of all time — the $100,000 Infield consisting of Stuffy McInnis (1B), Eddie Collins (2B), Home Run Baker (3B), and Jack Barry (SS). The 1914 set is found in less quantity and lower condition than the 1915 set with PSA grading 44 examples and SGC grading but 28.
By 1916 the Philadelphia Athletics made the case for the worst team in baseball posting an abysmal 36-117 record — just two years after winning the American League. Mack had sold off all of his future Hall of Famers, although he did bring in the legendary Nap Lajoie to finish out his career and perhaps increase attendance.
The M101-4 is a great image of Mack, who is shown with arms folded in the dugout. The set featured black and white photos with either a blank back or a multitude of regional advertising backs including Sporting News, Morehouse Baking, Mall Theater, Indianapolis Brewing, Herpolsheimer’s, Green-Joyce, Globe Clothing Store, and Gimbel’s. PSA has graded the Sporting News back 10 times, while SGC has graded it but once.
1923 Willard Chocolate (V100)
After losing the World Series in 1914 the Athletics did not post a winning record until 1925 and did not win another pennant until 1929. Through it all Mack served as manager, despite the losing record, due to his ownership stake in the team. Not many sets were issued in the 1920s, despite it being the era of Babe Ruth, the game’s greatest star. One set of note is Willard Chocolate, which was actually a Canadian issue.
Mack’s card features a black and white image of a now visibly aged man with the familiar white hair and a bowler hat. PSA has graded 9 examples of Mack’s V100, while SGC has graded 12. Despite the low population, Willard Macks are not usually expensive when offered.
1933 Tattoo Orbit (R305)
Between 1929 and 1931 Connie Macks’ Philadelphia Athletics won 313 games, three American League pennants, and two World Series as what some consider the greatest team of all time. The dynasty featured future Hall of Famers Mickey Cochrane at catcher, slugger Jimmie Foxx at first base, Al Simmons at left field, and Lefty Grove as pitcher. Despite this, Mack did not appear on a single card during that time period and did not appear in any of the leading sets of the era such as 1933 and 1934 Goudey. Instead, we have Mack on a Tattoo Orbit card from 1933.
A 60 card set features a grainy, black and white image of Connie Mack in fedora on a generic, colored background. 1933 is notable as the last time Mack would have a winning season until 1947 as he would once again unload his greatest stars. Three years later, in 1936, Mack became full owner of the Athletics. PSA has graded 31 examples of the card, whereas SGC has graded 26.
1951 Topps Connie Mack All-Stars
In 1951 Topps issued its first baseball cards. One of the first two sets issued featured an all-star team selected by Connie Mack who had just completed fifty years as manager of the Athletics. For his team Mack selected Grover Cleveland Alexander, Walter Johnson, and Christy Mathewson as pitchers, Mickey Cochrane as catcher, Eddie Collins as second baseman, Jimmie Collins as third baseman, Lou Gehrig as first baseman, Babe Ruth and Tris Speaker as outfielders, Honus Wagner as shortstop, and, of course, he was picked as manager.
The sides could be removed, leaving only the cutout image of the player. Somewhat fragile, cards in the set–including Mack–can be pricey although lower end cards from the set can be found for $150 and up with a mid-grade Mack at about $300.
When Mack retired at the end of the 1950 season at the ripe old age of 87 it marked the end of an era not just for the Athletics but for baseball as a hole. He would leave ownership of the A’s 4 years later in 1954 and pass away at the age of 93 on February 8, 1956 — where else but in Philadelphia.