b. December 22, 1862
d. February 8, 1956
Mack was involved in major league baseball, as a player, manager, and owner, for far longer than anyone else in the sport's history. He joined the NL's Washington team as a catcher at the end of the 1886 season and remained through 1889, then jumped to Buffalo in the Players' League in 1890.
The league folded after just one season and Mack went to the Pittsburgh NL team. He was named Pittsburgh's manager late in the 1894 season and remained through 1896, when he was fired. That was also his last season as a player. The 6-foot-1, 150-pound Mack was a good defensive catcher but not much of a hitter. He had a career average of .251 in 723 major league games.
In 1897, Mack began managing the Milwaukee team in the minor Western League, which was presided over by Ban Johnson. Johnson turned it into the American League in 1901 and gave Mack a 25 percent interest in the league's new Philadelphia franchise.
At a time when most managers were tough, brawling, profane men, Mack was a distinct exception. He didn't smoke, drink, or use profanity, and he wore a business suit, necktie and hat while managing from the dugout. Because he didn't wear the standard uniform, Mack was not allowed to step onto the playing field.
The Athletics won a pennant in 1902, a year before the World Series began. They were also pennant winners in 1910, 1911, 1913, and 1914, and they took the World Series every year except 1913. Despite that success, however, the franchise had financial problems and Mack had to sell off his best players to raise cash.
After seven straight last-place finishes, Philadelphia got back into the first division in 1925 and won three consecutive pennants, from 1929 through 1931, capturing the World Series in 1929 and 1930. Because of the depression, the franchise was again losing money. Mack sold four future Hall of Famers, Mickey Cochrane, Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, and Al Simmons, to pay off $500,000 in debts.
Until 1940, Ben Shibe was the team's majority owner and Mack was the manager. After Shibe's death, Mack bought enough stock from his widow to become majority owner, with 58 percent of the team. He continued managing through 1950, when he was honored with a ticker tape parade in New York and an invitation to the White House.
Mack then retired, giving control of the team to his three sons. In 1954, he sold the franchise to Arnold Johnson, who moved it to Kansas City. Mack's record as a manager reflects the fact that the Athletics had more hard times than good times during his tenure: He won 3,731 games and lost 3,948, a winning percentage of .486.