Irish Emigrants Son Becomes A Famous Sporting Son Of The United States Of America
The magical stories of Irish emigrants in foreign lands becoming famous and renowned in their adopted homeland and rising to the very top of their professions is seldom heard.
That is because when both parents decide to leave the land of their birthplace and set out for a new life thousands of miles away, the achievement of reaching the promised land drains their financial resources.
In this human and true story it relates to a Co. Kerry couple, who with just barely the clothes on their back as their main asset, set out for New England, not too far from Plymouth Rock, quite near Lexington and Bunker Hill, Massachutes in the United States Of America.
Their dream was to make a much better and prosperous life for themselves rather than struggle daily in the kingdom of Kerry and in a country occupied by a foreign invader at that time.
That unwanted invader was England and though the family lived at the foothills of the McGillicuddy Reeks outside of Killarney in mid 19th century Ireland, scraping an existence was a tough task.
Getting away from your homeland was the ambition of many but that was reserved for people with access to the expensive fares to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Emigrants scraped up every last penny, sold their miserly belongings and when the fares were in hand, they booked their tickets and most likely would never again come back to the Emerald Isle.
Michael McGillicuddy and Mary McKillop McGillicuddy travelled to Cobh, Co. Cork, and embarked on a ship they believed would take them to an entirely new life. The prospects for themselves of becoming rich and famous was a target beyond the vast majority of Irish emigrants and many Irish parents emigrated to provide their own children with opportunities they would never experience in Ireland. That factor alone was the goal of many Irish emigrants.
On 22nd December 1862 at East Brookfield in Masschusetts, a new arrival in the McGillicuddy family was christened Cornelius McGillicuddy and this was later amended to Connie Mack. The new child had six more siblings and at the time of his birth, his father Michael was serving in Lincoln’s Army fighting for the Union.
At the end of the war Michael McGillicuddy returned to his job at the Cotton Mill, where he earned about ten dollars a week to support a family of nine. Times were very tough, the family lived in a rented small house and the monthly rent was six dollars.
Tragedy struck the family not too long after their arrival in America when a contagious disease swept their neighbourhood and claimed the deaths of two of the McGillicuddy children. Further misery struck when the head of the household, Michael McGillicuddy, died aged just fifty two.
However this article would not be going live on our Irish Heritage Hall Of Fame website if the McGillicuddy family story was all doom and gloom.
The boy christened Cornelius had a mighty passion for Baseball and it was at this American sport that Connie Mack became famous and well known throughout Baseball Stadiums all over the United States Of America.
From the age of four he served his Baseball apprenticeship around the family homestead playing in local parks with his school friends and neighbours. He was sent to work at the local Cotton Mill at just nine years old and his monthly pay packet was just six dollars, enough to pay the monthly rent on the McGillicuddy family home.
Connie also worked on local farms picking vegetables and did every odd job that came his way.
Baseball would be his route to great prosperity and he reveled in this unique sport. He became an American professional Baseball player, manager and even a team owner.
Cornelius McGillicuddy (Connie Mack) set a record as the longest ever serving manager in Major League Baseball history and he holds records for wins, losses and games managed. His career in Baseball spanned seventy one years from the age of twenty two when he entered the professional ranks. He died at age ninety three.
His maiden voyage was as a catcher for a minor league team at Meridan, Connecticut, before signing for the Washington DC team in 1886. He later transferred to Buffalo Bisons in the new Players League but this ambitious team went out of business.
Next assignment for Connie was Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League and he was now a much sought after player in the United States. His playing days ended in the colours of Pittsburgh Pirates.
Staying with the Pittsburg Pirates he was appointed as manager and so began a new chapter that would elevate an ancestral son of Ireland to become a household name all over America. Leaving the Pittsburg locality he progressed to manage many more teams but the ambition to own his own team was budding inside Connie Mack.
He became part owner of Philadelphia Phillies and his Baseball dynasty began there as he acquired business acumen that led him to owning several more Baseball teams. His relationship with Philadelphia Athletics set him up for fifty years as their manager and during that time he was a major shareholder from 1901 to 1954.
With such esteem in American Baseball, Connie Mack, son of Irish emigrants from Kerry, was inducted into the American Baseball Hall Of Fame.
Further recognition was bestowed when the Philadelphia Stadium, originally called Shibe Park, and the home ground of Connie’s Philadelphia Athletics, was rechristened as Connie Mack Stadium in 1953.
Cornelius McGillicuddy, trading as alias Connie Mack, is an anglo Irish Famous Sporting Son Of Ireland and he is also now Inducted into the All Ireland Hall Of Fame as a Famous Ancestral Son Of Ireland @ www.scoreboardmemories.com
Connie Mack born on 22nd December 1862 died on 8th February 1956.
Derry JF Doody