Connie Mack E96 Philadelphia Card a Rare Early Managerial Only Issue

Connie Mack’s managerial card is one of the most unique cards in the Philadelphia Caramel series

The E95 and E96 Philadelphia Caramel card sets are among the more popular of the early candy baseball card issues. Combined, they’ve got just about every big name in the game at that time. Released in 1909 (E95) and 1910 (E96), the sets include players such as Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson, Eddie Plank, Nap Lajoie, and many other Hall of Famers.

As I wrote here, the E95 set is by far the more appealing of the two since it has most of the biggest names. And if you like pointless rankings, here are my rankings for both the E95 set and rankings for the E96 set, slotting the cards from worst to first. The sets are both small — E95 includes only 25 cards and E96 has 30 cards.

One of the more interesting cards in either set is for a Hall of Famer. But instead of a player, it’s actually a managerial card of the legendary Connie Mack. The thing that makes Mack’s inclusion in the set is that it is the only card featuring a non-active player. Mack is pictured in his customary suit and tie on the card. Most pre-war sets, in fact, rarely included only managers with few exceptions, like the popular John McGraw, who appears quite frequently.

This wasn’t the only 1910 set to feature Mack. The Hall of Famer is also in other sets, including the anonymous E98 issue and the E104 Nadja set, to name a few.

e96-02-mack

It should be pointed out that cards of managers do exist in the E96 set. Specifically, Hughie Jennings, Fred Clarke, and Red Dooin are all included. All of those, however, were still playing, even if only barely. Jennings participated in only one game in 1910 as a player and had played in only a couple the previous season. Jennings was basically just a full-time manager at that point but Mack is the only manager that did not play at all that season and he hadn’t been a player for a very long time.

Mack’s last major league game came in the 1896 season — 14 years before E96 was distributed. He was not only a full-time manager but he was long removed from his playing days, unlike Jennings. Additionally, Mack is pictured wearing the suit on his card while Jennings is in a traditional player uniform. It’s just a different sort of card.

That trend of mostly avoiding managerial cards was seen even more in the preceding 1909 E95 Philadelphia Caramel set. In that release, only one card existed of a manager — and that was Frank Chance of the Chicago Cubs, who was also still playing. Again, no cards of those fulfilling only a managerial role exist in that set.

So, why Mack? What made him so important that he deserved inclusion in such small sets?

Some collectors might point to his Hall of Fame managerial career but the bulk of his success actually came after this set was produced. He won a couple of pennants with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1902 and 1905 but his first World Series title did not come until 1910. He would go on to win four more of those.

When thinking of why Mack got into such a limited set, two possibilities come to mind.

First, if the set was released after the World Series, it would have made sense to include the World Series winning manager. Could artwork have been secured and printing occurred all within that short window by the end of the year? I suppose it would have been a stretch.

But before you rule that out entirely, understand that Mack was also in the E104-1 Nadja set, also believed to have been printed in 1910. That is important to note because some of those cards have a special World Champions printing at the top, denoting their World Series title. That clearly would have been added towards the end of the year meaning those were printed late. Other E104-1 Nadja cards are known without the printing, so it would seem likely that the champions overprint was easy to add after the fact as opposed to producing the entire set all at once. Still, food for thought, I suppose.

Another (perhaps, better) explanation lies in the set’s issuer. The cards were distributed by the Philadelphia Caramel Company and Mack was the manager of the Philadelphia Athletics. Now, the company had moved to Camden, New Jersey a few years prior to the issuance of this set but the Philadelphia Caramel name was retained. And with no professional team in New Jersey, anyway, it made sense to focus on the nearby Philadelphia teams, which were literally only about ten minutes from Camden.

Reinforcing that is that the aforementioned Dooin, one of the few player/managers in the E96 set, managed the Philadelphia Phillies. Including the managers for both Philadelphia teams was a nice link for a company that had its roots in Philadelphia and was still basically a stone throw away in Camden.

Is it really all about the Philadelphia Caramel name? It’s impossible to say, really. And while Mack did appear in those other 1910 sets produced by other companies, look at the context. We don’t know the producer of the E98 and the Nadja set that Mack is in, E104-1, was a Philadelphia Athletics only set, making his inclusion entirely easy to understand.

Whatever the reason, the Mack card is incredibly unique and one of the things that makes the Philadelphia Caramel sets so special. It’s one of the more desired cards in the E96 set and, even in low-grade condition, usually commands $150-$200 as a starting point.

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