MAR:THE BASEBALL GURU ARTICLE FROM
The name wrapped itself around STUFFY McINNESS and EDDIE COLLINS and JACK BARRY and HOMERUN BAKER. It became enmeshed in the fabric and ethos of baseball and achieved a larger than life, almost mythical quality.
It whetted the appetite of baseball fans of that era. The four players who formed the $100,000 infield wore their name well. They acted out their achievements with almost deistic certitude for four years, 1911 to 1914. Photographs show their faces. They look hardfaced, grim, unsmiling, as if aware of the fact that history would render them as immortal, superhuman.
Baseball had a different feeling then, a different cast. You played for the one run, you knew had to lay down a bunt, how to move runners along, how to run the bases, & use your spikes to good effect. The uniforms showed the results of chewing tobacco. Your gloves were barely larger than your hand. You were brushed down often. Players fought each other under the stands. Spitballs, shiners, emery balls were commonplace pitches. Balls were used that were so scuffed up that they would not be acceptable in these days. The players were basically shanty town Irish and there were a large amount of Polish and Slavic players as well. They drank hard, so did their women, and their careers were short lived.
The great names then were Heinie Zimmerman, Rube Marquard, Tris Speaker, Smoky Joe Wood, Nap Lajoie, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Christy Mathewson, Sam Crawford, & Walter Johnson. The ball was truly dead & a homerun was a sometime thing. It was fielding, & strategic hitting that ruled the day & the Philadelphia Athletics $100,000 infield was the outstanding example of that.
The man who was the creator of this was Connie Mack. For fifty years he was the owner and manager of the Athletics. For those fifty years he sat ramrod straight on the dugout bench, dressed in a jacket and vest, a stiff white collar pinching into his neck, his granite face intently looking out onto the field and taking in everything.
He is considered to have been one of the greatest of baseball tacticians to have been in the game and his assembling together of the $100,00 infield is an example of his baseball acumen. It stayed together for four years and then in 19224 Mack was forced to sell Eddie Collins and Jack Barry in order to raise some much needed money to keep the team afloat. This would prove to be a typical pattern for Mack.
Through his overriding genius he would get the best talent around, assemble it for his team, establish a dynasty for years, and then be forced to sell his best players in order to keep on going.
I remember watching him
manage those dreadful