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A treasure trove of Philadelphia A’s records has been uncovered

Oct 25, 2011, 11:37 AM EDT

Image (3) 408px-Connie_Mack3.jpg for post 5422

Old Gator alerted me to this fascinating development. It seems that some old records — including accounting ledgers, business records and 15 canisters containing 16 mm films — belonging to the Philadelphia A’s and dating from 1915-1954 have been uncovered.

They were retrieved out of a dumpster years ago, then sat in a garage and then found on eBay. They’re now in the hands of a historian who is making a big documentary about Connie Mack.  Given the time frame, they should shed massive amounts of light on how a team that was as successful as the A’s were in the early part of the 20th century turned into a team that was basically a laughing stock as we reached the century’s middle years. Sure, Mack got old and lost his fastball, but I’m sure there were all manner of business reasons for that we still don’t know everything about.

Cool stuff.

  1. halladaysbiceps - Oct 25, 2011 at 11:55 AM

    I read this article this morning on The real treasure in this find is the film footage. Remarkably, no one has viewed it yet (I guess 16mm film projectors are hard to come by). I hope they bring in the resources of the Baseball Hall of Fame to go through this stuff properly.

    • sdelmonte - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:11 PM

      More likely, the film is possibly fragile. It might not survive more than one viewing. I would guess they are hoping to find a way to digitize the film before anything can happen to it.

      • halladaysbiceps - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:14 PM

        That’s very possible. I didn’t even think about the fragile aspect of the film itself. I guess there is probably a way of going frame by frame and copying the contents of the film without even putting it through a projector.

      • natstowngreg - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:19 PM

        There’s a film lab on the Left Coast — think it’s at UCLA — that specializes in restoring very old films. Maybe they could do it.

      • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:40 PM

        The place for these films is Martin Scorsese’s archival and preservation lab at The Film Foundation in New York City; it’s the great director’s labor of love for his revered medium:

    • natstowngreg - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:17 PM

      Good idea for the films. The documents seem to be in good hands, with someone who is already chronicling Mack’s career.

      The standard history is, Connie Mack built great teams, but couldn’t afford to keep them. The material cited in this article supports that history. The A’s became one of the “small-market teams” of its time, a status it maintained after moving out of Philly.

      • florida76 - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        It’s incorrect to say the old Philadelphia A’s were a “small market team”, rather the Philadelphia market just couldn’t support two MLB teams.

    • deepstblu - Oct 25, 2011 at 6:34 PM

      If the film is old enough it may be nitrate film, which is extremely flammable and needs to be handled with great care.

      • hcf95688 - Oct 26, 2011 at 9:41 AM

        Someone saw “Inglorious Basterds”

  2. Joe - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:20 PM

    Ooh, accounting ledgers! Given my company’s record retention policy, those would be gone long ago. And the world would be a worse place for it.

    • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:43 PM

      Can’t take credit for that. A friend of mine in San Francisco, a south Jersey expat and hardcore Feelies fan, emailed me about it last night because the historian working on the records is based at Texas State University in San Marcos, where the archives of Cormac McCarthy’s papers are also stored. I just passed it along to Craig. Butterfly effect, you know?

      • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:45 PM

        Oops – hit the wrong “reply” key. The comment above is in response to WhenMattStairsisKing, below.

  3. WhenMattStairsIsKing - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    Funny, I never realized Connie Mack grew mustaches above his eyes.

    Thanks for posting this story, Craig, and for finding it, Old Gator.

    • clydeserra - Oct 25, 2011 at 12:53 PM

      Charlie Finley paid him $300 per brow.

    • tmohr - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:00 PM

      Those are the same eyebrows as Ron Paul’s.

      • Old Gator - Oct 25, 2011 at 1:36 PM

        Paul dug up Edward Teller and shaved them off. On that idiot, they look a lot worse for wear.

  4. stackers1 - Oct 26, 2011 at 8:42 AM

    Mack’s theory was – it’s better to have a team in 1st place most of the year, but then finish 2nd or 3rd. This way you get pleanty of fans paying to get in the park, but don’t have to give the players raises because they didn’t win anything. I got this from Ken Burns Baseball documentary.

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