Baseball Legends Revealed #15

This is the fifteenth in a series of examinations of baseball-related legends and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of all the previous baseball legends.

Let’s begin!

BASEBALL LEGEND: Cornelius McGillicuddy changed his name to Connie Mack because he was tired of writing his name on the scorecard each day.

STATUS: False

As the story goes, Cornelius McGillicuddy shortened his name to Connie Mack when he was managing the Philadelphia Athletics because he was tired of squeezing the C. McGillicuddy on the scorecard.

However, there are a few things wrong with that one…

Cornelius McGillicuddy began a ten year run as a catcher in the National League in 1886.

His first team was the Washington Senators.

And as you might notice from this old school baseball card from 1887, he was called Connie Mack back then when he was just breaking into the big leagues!

He was known as Connie (or Corner) Mack in a variety of newspapers (announcing his marriage) in the late 1900s, decades before he became a manager.

Mack was ALWAYS called Connie Mack – he did not change it for the sake of being a manager (a role he held for the Athletics, by the way, for a remarkable FIFTY YEARS from 1901-1950).

However, while he NEVER went by McGillicuddy when it came to baseball, it’s interesting to note that he also never officially dropped the name McGillicuddy from his life. To wit, in his legal documents and business dealings, he always went by McGillicuddy (which would also go against the aforementioned story, because he had to write McGillicuddy on all of the Philadelphia Athletics business documents, including accounting forms, so wouldn’t writing Mack save him a lot of time there?). When he was married for a second time at the age of 48 (well after his managerial career had begun), he signed his marriage license Cornelius McGillicuddy.

So no, he did not change his name because he was tired of squeezing it into the scorecard every day.

BASEBALL LEGEND: An ejected manager sneaked back into the dugout during the game using a fake mustache and glasses.

STATUS: Oddly enough, True

Bobby Valentine took over as the manager of the New York Mets in 1996. He would remain the manager until 2002, leading the Mets to two playoff berths in 1999 and 2000, and a National League pennant in 2000 (they would lose to their crosstown rivals, the New York Yankees), with an overall record of 536-467 (and only one full season under .500 – his last).

On June 9, 1999, Valentine was ejected from a game in the 12th inning for arguing with the umpires on a catcher’s interference call.

Valentine went to the clubhouse and proceeded to put on sunglasses, a different cap and drew a mustache on his face with grease paint. He then sat down in the dugout (or at least it certainly appeared to be the dugout) then watched the rest of the game.

Nothing happened that night, but TV cameras caught Valentine in the act, and two days later, the National League suspended Valentine for two games and fined him $5,000.

The rule he violated was:

5.1, which says: “When a manager, player, coach or trainer is put out of a game by an umpire, he shall leave the field immediately” and if ejected you “shall remain in the clubhouse until the game is ended or change to street clothes and either leave the park or take a seat in the grandstand well removed from the vicinity of his club’s bullpen.”

Valentine clearly did not do that.

Ah well, he at least gave everyone a chuckle!

I don’t know if that’s worth $5,000, though…

BASEBALL LEGEND: A baseball player stole first base.

STATUS: True.

The year was 1911. The runner was Germany Schaefer, acquired by the Washington Senators from the Detroit Tigers in 1910…

There was another runner on third base while Schaefer was on first.

A popular play in the deadball era (where fielding equipment was very poor so even routine plays might not be made all the time) in that situation was to try a double steal. The runner on first will try to steal second and if the catcher throws to second, the runner at third will try to come home and hope that he makes it in the ensuing confusion (before the second baseman or shortstop gets the ball back to the plate).

Well, Schaefer tried that play…only the runner on third didn’t budge!!

So Schaefer was now on second base.

Well, he figured, the play was still a good idea (and Schaefer was also known for being a bit of a goofy guy), so he proceeded to, on the next pitch, steal FIRST base! He just ran back to first base! He then attempted the double steal again on the next pitch, and at that point, the opposing manager came out to argue (at this time, the runner on third decided to dash for home and was thrown out at the plate).

Baseball was a lot less strict back then when it came to the rules of the game.

The game got one little piece stricter, though, in 1920 (a year after Schaefer died an untimely death from tuberculosis at the age of 42), when they added a new rule banning the practice of a runner trying to steal a base in reverse.

After he has acquired legal possession of a base, he runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game. The umpire shall immediately call “Time” and declare the runner out.

The rule almost certainly was aimed at Schaefer (who was rumored to have tried the play more than once), and while it really IS a good rule, it’s almost a shame to see baseball get that much more rigid.

Okay, that’s it for this week!

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

22 Responses to “Baseball Legends Revealed #15”

  1. I was going to ask, can’t a batter steal first when the catcher drops the ball on strike three, if he can beat the throw?

    But looking it up first, I see that’s actually a case of a runner being awarded a base after an error. It gets recorded as a K for the pitcher and an E-2 on the catcher.

    Well, you inspired me to learn something new today, Brian!

  2. All I can hope for, Mike! :)

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