MAC — where major leaguers got their start

In a slide talk given June 8 at Skene Memorial Library in Fleischmanns, baseball historian Bob Mayer provided insight into the baseball-loving Fleischmann family and some of the men who played for the Mountain Athletic Club (MAC).

The club was started by Julius Fleischmann, son of yeast magnate Charles Louis Fleischmann who established the family summer compound in Griffin Corners. (The Village was renamed Fleischmanns in 1913.) The family built the local ball park to host MAC games in which a young Julius and his brother Max often played.

Two Baseball Hall of Famers – Honus Wagner and Miller Huggins – reputedly played for a time with MAC in Fleischmanns – Wagner c 1896, Huggins in 1900. (Contrary to an oft repeated story, there is no documentation that a third Hall of Famer, Ty Cobb, ever played in Fleischmanns.)

Honus Wagner

Johannes Peter ‘Honus’ Wagner – (1874-1955) — is considered by many to be baseball’s greatest all-around player. The “Flying Dutchman” spent his entire career as shortstop with the Pittsburgh Pirates and was adept at hitting, base running and fielding. He put together 17 consecutive .300 seasons and was the National League batting champion for eight of those 17 seasons. Before that. He played in the minors. Said Mayer, “It’s probable that Wagner played with MAC in 1896 since his manager in the Minors was also the manager for MAC that year, and may have brought Honus to play with the team.”

One of the first five players inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1936, Wagner retired with more hits, runs, RBIs, doubles, triples, games and steals than any other National League player. He was the first player to have his signature branded into a Louisville Slugger baseball bat in 1905.

Miller Huggins

Miller James Huggins (1878 –1929) was born in Cincinnati, where Julius Fleischmann was Mayor from 1900 to 1905. He earned a law degree from the University of Cincinnati, but chose to pursue a professional baseball career. He played semi-professional and minor league baseball from 1898 through 1903, including appearances with the Fleischmann-owned Cincinnati Shamrocks and with MAC in 1900.

Huggins played second base for the Cincinnati Reds (1904–1909), part-owned by Julius Fleischmann, and the St. Louis Cardinals (1910–1916). He managed the Cardinals (1913–1917) and the New York Yankees (1918–1929), which won six American League pennants and three World Series championships during that time.

There were quite a few other MAC players who played professionally. At least nine of them played in the Major Leagues: Nick Altrock, Andy Coakley, Tom Colcolough, Pete Cregan, Red Dooin, Bug Holliday, Barney McFadden, George Rohe, and Doc White.

Nick Altrock was considered the best left hand pitcher in the game as he won 62 games for the White Sox between 1904 and 1906. However, baseball was ultimately overshadowed by his second career as one of the most popular and longest working baseball clowns. He partnered with Al Schacht in 1919 and went out on his own after 1934. He continued until 1957 when he was 81 years old. At his peak, he had a salary that rivaled Babe Ruth’s.

Red Dooin caught 1,124 games for the Phillies, which is still the team record, and he may have been the first catcher to wear shin guards. Red managed the Phillies for five years and had a 392 wins and 370 losses. He had done vaudeville and sung on the radio during off seasons, and went back to that after retiring from baseball.

Bug Holliday played with Cincinnati 1889-98 batting .312, and in 1894 he hit .376 with 123 RBI’s and 126 runs scored. Bug played with MAC after the Majors then spent a short time as a boxing referee then a National League umpire. He was only 43 when he died in 1910.

George Rohe was a reserve infielder batting .258 in 1906, but in the third World Series, led the “Hitless Wonders” White Sox to an upset win over the powerful Cubs who had won 116 games. George had two triples, a double and four singles in the series. He played third base and managed the MAC team in 1900.

Doc White pitched five straight shutouts in 1904. He was ultimately tied by Don Drysdale in 1968. He pitched for Georgetown University in 1897, and in 1898 he struck out the first nine batters he faced against Holy Cross. He pitched for MAC in 1900, and signed directly into MLB by the Phils. He continued his education and got his dentistry degree in 1902. He won the 7th game of the 1906 World Series for the White Sox. Over his career he won 189 games with a 2.39 ERA over 13 years.

At least seven of the players spent time playing for the Cincinnati Reds when the Fleischmanns owned the team, but surprisingly, four of the MAC players (Altrock, Rohe, White, and Pat Dougherty) were on the 1906 Championship Chicago White Sox team.