The Legacy of MLB – Who Will Carry It On?

September 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully acknowledges spectators before the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
September 25, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully acknowledges spectators before the sixth inning against the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

With a few that have carried the legacy of MLB forward for over 100 years, who will be the next torch-bearer in the game?

You may want to prepare yourself for this fact, as it may blow your mind – 2017 is the first season since 1901 that there will be an MLB season that does not involve Connie Mack and/or Vin Scully. That is 116 seasons of baseball involving two men.

Who could be involved in MLB now that could continue that sort of longevity that 40-50 years from now, we’ll be adding that person to that pair? We’ll examine that, but let’s first examine these two men who spanned so many years of the game we love…

Connie Mack

Connie really was involved with baseball for 15 years prior to his managerial affiliation in 1901 that began a consecutive run as manager and/or owner that lasted until 1954 in the game.

Mack played for 10 seasons as a light-hitting catcher before he left to manage, but even then he was an innovator, considered to be the first catcher to “block” the plate as a runner attempted to score and also one of the first to position himself right behind the plate instead of significantly behind the plate as a catcher.

He finished his playing career as a player/manager with the Pittsburgh Pirates in his final two seasons before being fired, leading to his retirement as a player and pursuit of managing.

From 1897-1900, Mack managed the Milwaukee Brewers, a minor league team. He left in 1901 to become part-owner and manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, and he would manage the Athletics for the next 50 seasons.

Mack left the role of manager as the career leader in wins of any manager in baseball history. He won five World Series titles, and he remains the only manager to win consecutive titles multiple times in his managerial career.

One of his biggest contributions to the game was his code of conduct for his players in 1916:

"I will always play the game to the best of my ability.I will always play to win, but if I lose, I will not look for an excuse to detract from my opponent’s victory.I will never take an unfair advantage in order to win.I will always abide by the rules of the game—on the diamond as well as in my daily life.I will always conduct myself as a true sportsman—on and off the playing field.I will always strive for the good of the entire team rather than for my own glory.I will never gloat in victory or pity myself in defeat.I will do my utmost to keep myself clean—physically, mentally, and morally.I will always judge a teammate or an opponent as an individual and never on the basis of race or religion."

Mack would have been a sabermetric darling of a manager. While his team led the league in successful sacrifices multiple times, he rarely bunted compared to the rest of the league and abhorred the intentional walk.

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Vin Scully

Born 26 years into Mack’s managerial career, Scully would seem an odd one to have taken the mantle from him as the game’s connection to history, but in 1950, when Mack was in his last season as a manager, Scully broadcast his first game for the Dodgers.

After just 67 seasons, Scully signed off for the final time last season, a career that spanned the Civil Rights movement, the entirety of the Cold War, and the explosion of the Information Age.

He had seen tremendous change in the game as well, seeing expansion in the league, the move out west of his own team along with others, and the addition of the designated hitter among many things.

Scully has a tremendous style that covered more than just baseball, having covered football, including one of the most famous games ever, the 1982 NFC Championship Game, which featured “The Catch” by Dwight Clark in the end zone to help the San Francisco 49ers defeat the Dallas Cowboys. Scully also covered golf and tennis in his career.

Who Can Carry Things Forward?

Obviously with an announcer and an owner/manager being the two guys who are referenced, I’m not perceiving that it must be a guy that is directly on field to be the next guy who will be around MLB for multiple decades.

To carry that forward would require someone relatively young (Scully was 24 when he broadcast his first big league game), in a position that he would like to maintain for years to come, and loyal to his organization.

What is remarkable is the organizational loyalty that both Mack and Scully had, with Mack spending 55 seasons in some role with the Athletics and Scully spending 67 seasons with the Dodgers.

A few who could possibly fit the bill:

Brian Cashman
Cashman is probably not going to make it another 50 seasons in the game, as he’s already 49 years old, but he could feasibly be in the game in 2051, bringing a trio of impactful persons in the game to 150 seasons with him and Mack. That would make him 84 years old, however!

Cashman has been with the Yankees since 1986 in some capacity, and he’s been the team’s general manager since 1998, so he’s definitely got the loyalty down already, having over 30 years with the Yankees organization under his belt.

John Coppolella
Of a number of young front office people who could be mentioned here, “Coppy” has likely the most tenure, youth, and likely organizational loyalty to be a possible guy in this mold.

He broke into the game, interestingly enough, working for Cashman, but he’s been in Atlanta with the Braves for 10 seasons already. He is entering his second season as the Braves’ general manager and is 37 years old.

Jessica Mendoza
Mendoza was a college softball star that went on to star with Team USA. She’s cut her teeth as a trailblazing broadcaster with ESPN, becoming the first woman to cover multiple levels of baseball as an analyst. She currently works in the booth on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball broadcasts. Mendoza is 36.

Those are three possibilities, though any number of current players could stay in the game and be that bridge by playing and then staying in the game in some capacity for many years.

One of the challenges to “legacy” persons in the game like Mack and Scully in today’s game is the money involved. A player after a 10-year career would be financially set for life, if he chose to be such.

Mack was working for every dollar he could earn until the moment he left the game, and that was a big reason that drove him on. Scully wasn’t pinched financially, but he certainly worked a lot of his career before big media contracts were the norm, hence his working in multiple sports for many seasons.

It would be very intriguing to look back in 50 seasons to see who has lasted in the game that long, as there certainly could be someone who does!

Next: Baseball Is Beautiful

Thinking of Vin Scully, April 8 was the 43rd anniversary of the day that Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth‘s career home run record. While many are familiar with Milo Hamilton’s call of that famous home run, Vin added his own special take that is incredible in its own right: