Connie Mack was born nine days after the Battle of Fredericksburg ended, became the manager of the Philadelphia A's in the year Queen Victoria died, and was still managing them when Richie Ashburn and Robin Roberts were the Phillies' young stars.

As The Inquirer noted amid the civic grief that followed his 1956 death, it was Mack, not Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Ted Williams or Joe DiMaggio, who was the face of baseball for Philadelphians throughout the first half of the 20th century.

For generations, fans attending games at the 21st and Lehigh stadium that eventually bore Mack's name would gaze up at the cupola office where the old man tried his best to run a ballclub on limited resources.

Inside the ballpark, they would look for Mack in the dugout, where, dressed in a suit and a high collar, he would occasionally reposition fielders with a discreet wave of his scorecard.

At the end, when his once-grand Athletics had been transformed into laughingstocks, the man legally known as Cornelius McGillicuddy was viewed as a baseball relic, one whose mind and wallet were no longer up to the demands of the nation's most popular sport.

In 1954, a year after Shibe Park was renamed Connie Mack Stadium, he and his sons finally sold. The team that had dominated the American League through its early decades and had long been No. 1 in the hearts of fans in two-team Philadelphia was relocated to Kansas City, Mo.

Red Smith, the legendary sports columnist who knew Mack from his time on one of The Inquirer's vanished competitors, the Philadelphia Record, wrote that toward the end, "he was old and sick and saddened, a figure of forlorn dignity bewildered by the bickering around him as the baseball monument that he had built crumbled away."

But his demise could not obscure his accomplishments. Mack's lordly nose could sniff out talent. He signed future Hall of Famers like Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Al Simmons and Eddie Collins, though it must be noted that he also passed on a young lefthanded pitcher named George Herman Ruth.

Mack won, lost and managed more games than anyone in baseball history. His A's teams captured five World Series and nine pennants, and he is still the only manager to have won consecutive World Series twice - 1910-11 and 1929-30.

Those 1929-30 A's - with Foxx, Grove, Simmons and Mickey Cochrane - would mark the high point of Mack's 50-year career as the franchise's manager and, for a long stretch, its owner.

The 1929 Athletics went an astounding 104-48, finishing 18 games ahead of Ruth's Yankees. They would go on to defeat the Chicago Cubs in one of the most memorable World Series ever, winning one game in which they trailed by 8-0 in the seventh inning.

When they clinched that Series before a Shibe Park crowd that included the president, the Macks (as Inquirer headline writers often called them) were the lead story in the Oct. 15 Inquirer: "Macks Win Game and Series; Hoover Is Thrilled as Hectic Rally In 9th Beats Cubs, 3-2."

That team Mack assembled would forever be ranked among baseball's greatest, winning the Series again in 1930 and losing it in seven games in 1931.

"Those A's never got the credit they deserved," wrote Shirley Povich, a longtime Washington Post sportswriter. "The A's were victims of the Yankee mystique. Perhaps the 1927 Yankees were the greatest team of all time. But if there was a close second, perhaps an equal, it was those A's. They are the most overlooked team in baseball."

But the worsening Depression and his own meager resources forced Mack to sell off the team's stars. He had rebuilt the franchise before, but he would not do it again.

More than a half-century after his death, about the only tangible legacy of Mack's historic association with Philadelphia is the statue of the Tall Tactician outside Citizens Bank Park.

The bronzed figure is standing on a dugout step, holding a scorecard, no doubt directing 21st-century fans toward another Philadelphia ballpark.