Mountain Athletic Club
The Mountain Athletic Club (M.A.C.) was established in Griffin Corners (present-day Fleischmanns), New York by Julius and Max Fleischmann, sons of Charles Louis Fleischmann, a co-founder of the Gaff & Flesichmann Co. in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1868. The family had been vacationing in this tiny Catskill Mountain town since 1883 when the first of five stately summer residences were built on a hill overlooking the Ulster & Delaware Railroad.
The Fleischmann brothers were rising stars in the family's yeast-making and distilling empire. They were also avid sportsmen and baseball fans. So in 1895, they used the family purse to purchase and clear 4-acres along the Bushkill on the west end of town and constructed their own private "field of dreams" where they could play ball. What began as a summertime hobby, developed into one of the finest teams outside of professional base ball at the turn of the last century.
During the heyday of the grand hotels in the Catskills - summer populations would swell into the thousands and legions of spectators would flock to the "M.A.C. Grounds" for ball games. The Mountain Athletic Club, or Mountain Tourists, as they were also referred to, was comprised of amateurs, minor-leaguers and professional ball players (many from the Cincinnati area) paid handsomely by the Fleischmanns and treated like royalty to play alongside the brothers. Julius served two terms as the Mayor of Cincinnati, OH (1900-1905) and with Max, was an owner of the modern-day Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies.
At least a dozen future and former major league ballplayers spent all or part of a season with the M.A.C.; the most famous of which are Honus Wagner (HOF '36) (though proof is shaky) and Miller Huggins (HOF '64). The M.A.C.'s best season likely came in 1900 when the team went 56-4, defeating the Reds in an exhibition game in Cincinnati.
The M.A.C. also starred three players in 1900 that helped the Chicago White Sox "Hitless Wonders" defeat the 116-game winning Chicago Cubs in the 1906 World Series: Nick Altrock is best known for his second career as the most famous baseball clown of the twentieth century, but he was a lefty pitcher with 189 career wins and also was the oldest player to hit a triple in the majors at age forty-eight; Doc White, another southpaw who pitched five consecutive shutouts in 1904 (a feat not matched until Don Drysdale did it with the Dodgers 64 years later); and George 'Whitey' Rohe, who played a key role in winning the pennant.
Other future and former Major Leaguers on the M.A.C. include Charley "Red" Dooin who held a 91 year Phillies franchise record for number of games caught, two-time home run king James Wear "Bug" Halladay, Tom Colcolough (pronounced Coke-ly), Barney McFadden, Black Jack Keenan, Kingston- born "Peekskill" Pete Cregan and Griffin Corners' slugger, Jay Kirke - the finest ball player ever to emerge from the Catskill Mountains.
On August 10&11, 1903, the all-black professional baseball team the Cuban Giants played a contest in Flesichmanns that featured Bill "Hippo" Galloway. In 1899, Hippo had become the first black hockey player of note in an amateur league and the last black player in the integrated Canadian League before Jackie Robinson debuted with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.
Even the famous concessions magnate Harry M. Stevens is purported to have been involved with the M.A.C. for a time. Stevens is credited with inventing the modern scorecard, the drinking straw and perhaps the hot dog.
In 1914, Julius Fleischmann donated the M.A.C. grounds to the village with the stipulation that the community be able to enjoy the park amenities free of charge and that it be "maintained as a park for all time". In honor of his donation, the village was renamed Fleischmanns.
To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Club's founding, the M.A.C. Grounds at Fleischmanns Park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November of 2020.
John Thorn - Official Historian of MLB: Mangled Forms, Our Game Blog: October 11, 2016 (originally printed in Woodstock Times, July 29, 2004).
MAC - Where Major Leaguers Got Their Start, Historical Society of Middletown, Tin Horn blog, July 1, 2018.
Robert Mayer - presenter at Headwaters History Days, Skene Memorial Library, Fleischmanns, New York, 7 June 2018.
Brian McKenna - Baseball History Blog, Mountain Athletic Club - June 13, 2011.
M.A.C. Grounds National Historic Register Nomination - New York State Office of Historic Preservation, June 11, 2020.
Postcard: "Flesichmann's Mansion, A City In Itself" Fleischmann's N.Y.
"Peekskill Factory, The Fleischmann Co. - Largest Yeast Factory in the World" - Opened in 1900 and was the largest employer in Peekskill for over 70 years.
"Fleischmanns. Private Baseball Park"
Riverside Daily Sun, 6/24/1899
Souvenir silver spoon depicting the M.A.C. Grounds at Fleischmanns, NY. Courtesy of Robert Mayer
Mountain Tourists c. 1897. This image is what most people refer to when alleging that Honus Wagner, (perhaps shown on the bottom row, far right) played in Fleischmanns. The claim has yet to be proven by other means. Uniforms are blue with maroon trimmings. Harry M Stevens is shown in the top row in jacket, turtleneck and cap. Photo coutesy of the late John Kelly, former postmaster of Griffins Corners.
Cincinnati Enquirer, July 8, 1900. Mayor, Julius Fleischmann with his M.A.C. featuring future major-leaguers "Peekskill" Pete Cregan, Red Dooin, Miller Huggins (HOF '46), Barney McFadden. George "Whitey" Rohe, and Doc White.
M.A.C. ca. 1904 Griffin Corners' own and future major leaguer, Jay Kirke appears middle row, far right.
Source: Fleischmanns Museum of Memories
Sign along old New York State Route 28,
the original thoroughfare into the Village.
M.A.C. Grounds - New York World, August 20. 1899
1906 post card image of the M.A.C. Grounds.
"Fleishmann's Ball Grounds - Catskill Mountains"
Part II: Resurrecting the M.A.C. 2007-2011