Connie Mack was born six months before the battle of Gettysburg. He was managing a major league club before Babe Ruth was born and he was still managing one after Babe Ruth died. When death came to him last week at 93 he was an American legend. The respect and affection that surrounded him were never better revealed than in the following story, which appeared in the second issue of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. The scene was the dugout of Yankee Stadium in August, 1954. The occasion was an oldtimers' game.
Connie Mack is very old now—91—and as fragile and delicate as a cloisonné vase. He sees and hears, but sometimes not so quickly as he did years ago when the Philadelphia Athletics were a baseball team and he managed them to nine pennants and five world championships.
He came into the dugout long after the rest of the oldtimers and sat down alone on the dugout bench, his hard straw hat in his lap. The oldtimers were posing for pictures along the front of the dugout, their big meaty backs to the old man. He sat all alone, very old and all alone.
Then the ballplayers began to notice him and one by one they came over to greet him. He would put out his shrunken arm to shake hands, and peer inquiringly into each face. And the old stars, accustomed to being recognized and hailed by name, shook hands and gently introduced themselves.
February 20, 1956
"Rogers Hornsby, Mr. Mack. It's good to see you again."
"Joe DiMaggio, Mr. Mack. It's good to see you."
"Paul Waner, Mr. Mack."
"Bill Dickey, Mr. Mack."
"Frank Frisch, Mr. Mack. How are you, sir?"
Al Simmons, big and heavy and gray, and not well enough to play in the game, shook hands.
"It's Al Simmons, Mr. Mack," he said. "Gee, it's good to see you again, Mr. Mack."
When Mack was introduced on the public address system, Al Simmons took his arm and helped him as he walked into the bright sunlight. Halfway to home plate Mack stopped, turned to the crowd and waved his hard straw hat, holding it high.
He sat in the dugout during the game, talking to old Cy Young and to Casey Stengel. When the white-haired Lefty Grove came into the dugout after the first inning he crooked his left arm at Mack and said, "Give me a rub-down, Connie." And the two old men, Mack and Young, delightedly kneaded Grove's arm for a moment or two.
Before the oldtimers' game was over, Mack's chauffeur came for him. Al Simmons helped the old man to his feet and said goodby. "It certainly was good to see you again, Mr. Mack."
Mack nodded and said goodby. The chauffeur began to lead him along the dugout floor toward the steps, but Mack paused to shake hands with two or three players sitting on the bench. Joe DiMaggio saw Mack approaching and sat up straight. He took off his cap before he shook hands with the old man.
"Goodby, Mr. Mack," he said. He did not put his cap back on until the old man had gone.