March 27, 2013
Connie Mack, the Wise-Cracking Catcher
Ad Gumbert was a well-traveled right-handed pitcher who played his last game in 1896. In his nine year career, Gumbert pitched for National League squads in Chicago, Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, and Philadelphia. In 1890, he finished 23-12 for the Boston Reds of the Players League under manager King Kelly. In all this time shuttling around the league, Gumbert met many of the game's characters and walked away with a few stories.
In a 1911 issue of Baseball Magazine, Gumbert shared this tale on the greatest play he ever witnessed.
The play was made when I was pitching for Pittsburgh and Connie Mack was the catcher. No brainier catcher ever stepped back of the bat. We were playing Chicago and dear old Cap Anson was leading that team. In those days Anson was a terror at bat ...
Let's ignore for a second that this story appears to have Mack still striding behind Anson when Gumbert throws the pitch. It may have been legal, but it feels a bit unfair—not to mention rather risky with someone as temperamental as Cap Anson at the plate. Instead, we'll focus on the real discovery: Connie Mack was the wise-cracking catcher that only seems to exist in movies!
That's right. Connie Mack, the grand-gentleman of the game, was the 19th-century inspiration of this scene (the most relevant part is at 0:45 seconds).
Better yet, we saw Mack's spiritual heir nearly a century later in the Great Hambino:
This is a discovery for the ages. What are we going to learn next? That Mack secretly weighted 250 pounds? One thing is for certain: we're all going to look at every picture of Connie Mack differently now.
"Got any naked pictures of your wife? Wanna see some?"