I have said in the past there are certain personalities that transcend the game itself. Usually they are players that fall into this category, mainly because of their own field exposure. There are always exceptions to that rule and easily Connie Mack is one of them. The Grand Old Man of Baseball is one of the patriarchs of the game and through all time is a name that will be known to all. A person who had an entirely different contribution to the game as Ty Cobb or Babe Ruth, but still a name that is just as recognizable as many of the games greats. Norman L. Macht has recently completed his third installment of his Connie Mack trilogy and it completes in print the life of one of baseballs true pioneers.
Obviously I read a lot of books, but no series of books I have ever come across has made me go WOW!, like this one has. The first volume of this set was published in 2007 with subsequent volumes in 2012 and 2015 respectively. All three book take a look at a specific portion of Connie Mack’s life and the events that helped shape his life and career. These books show how he forged his personality and the steps he had taken to amass his baseball empire. Each book also shows the baseball dealings he conducted on a daily basis, how he constructed teams and eventually dismantled teams to pay the teams bills. Various financial struggles are addressed throughout the years, power struggles within team ownership and family infighting that eventually led to the final downfall and removal of the Athletics from Philadelphia.
Norman L. Macht has dedicated a good portion of his life to this project. Starting in 1985 the research he did was in depth and led him essentially to every location Connie Mack ever stepped foot. He spoke to as many people who were friends, colleagues or family of Connie Mack and got the inside scoop on what the man was really like. The amount of time and research that was dedicated to this project is just mind blowing to me. I can’t imagine dedicating three decades to one subject and then being able to narrow it down to only 2,000 pages of details for a publisher. Usually, most publishers would shy away from a multi volume biography anyway.
For me growing up in Philadelphia there were always a lot of stories floating around. From just having the local ties and being a fixture in the city itself to the part that my Grandfather put a roof on his house in the late 40’s, Connie Mack for me was always an intriguing figure. This book dispels a lot of the myth’s that I had accepted as fact about Mack. Through the stories you hear growing up in Philadelphia, many of them you just accept as fact and don’t dedicate the time to looking for the truth. He truly was one of the games great owners and we will never see another one like him. In reality how many owners have a rival team name their stadium after your team leaves town, as the Phillies did out of respect for Mack. The respect that people had for him was astounding, so much so that as of my last conversation with Bobby Shantz about a year or so ago, he still referrs to him as Mr. Mack, over 60 years after his death.
Baseball fans should really check these books out. They are a vast wealth of knowledge for the fans of a very popular subject of the game that has not had many books dedicated to him. Norman L. Macht should be commended, and rightly so, on a great job writing these three books and completing his 30 year journey to show fans the real Cornelius McGillicuddy.
You can get these books from the nice folks at the University of Nebraska Press