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Veeck -- As in Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck (Holtzman Sports Classics Limited Edition)

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Bill Veeck was an inspired team builder, a consummate showman, and one of the greatest baseball men ever involved in the game. His classic autobiography, written with the talented sportswriter Ed Linn, is an uproarious book packed with information about the history of baseball and tales of players and owners, including some of the most entertaining stories in all of sports Bill Veeck was an inspired team builder, a consummate showman, and one of the greatest baseball men ever involved in the game. His classic autobiography, written with the talented sportswriter Ed Linn, is an uproarious book packed with information about the history of baseball and tales of players and owners, including some of the most entertaining stories in all of sports literature.


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Bill Veeck was an inspired team builder, a consummate showman, and one of the greatest baseball men ever involved in the game. His classic autobiography, written with the talented sportswriter Ed Linn, is an uproarious book packed with information about the history of baseball and tales of players and owners, including some of the most entertaining stories in all of sports Bill Veeck was an inspired team builder, a consummate showman, and one of the greatest baseball men ever involved in the game. His classic autobiography, written with the talented sportswriter Ed Linn, is an uproarious book packed with information about the history of baseball and tales of players and owners, including some of the most entertaining stories in all of sports literature.

30 review for Veeck -- As in Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck (Holtzman Sports Classics Limited Edition)

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    It’s been 50 years since Bill Veeck unleashed his autobiography Veeck—as in Wreck on the literary world. As popular with readers as it was reviled by baseball executives, the book climbed best seller lists in the summer of 1962 and has never faded from sight. In 2002, it claimed a place on Sports Illustrated’s list of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, ranking 33rd. Veeck—as in Wreck is still as entertaining today as it was in the ‘60s, though time has tempered some of the harsh criticisms of It’s been 50 years since Bill Veeck unleashed his autobiography Veeck—as in Wreck on the literary world. As popular with readers as it was reviled by baseball executives, the book climbed best seller lists in the summer of 1962 and has never faded from sight. In 2002, it claimed a place on Sports Illustrated’s list of the Top 100 Sports Books of All Time, ranking 33rd. Veeck—as in Wreck is still as entertaining today as it was in the ‘60s, though time has tempered some of the harsh criticisms of the baseball establishment. Biographer Paul Dickson, in his forthcoming release Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick, notes sportswriter Red Smith described it upon its release as “380 pages of aggravated assault.” Many observers felt Veeck had gone overboard in pummeling Commissioner Ford Frick, with whom Veeck rarely saw eye to eye. But Veeck had sufficient reason to take the offensive, having basically been run out of the game in the mid ‘50s after trying to relocate his St. Louis Browns to a city that would support them. As Dickson notes in his Prologue, “he spent a lifetime challenging baseball’s staid establishment, cultivating enemies the way others cultivate friends.” Simply put, the other owners resented his showman’s approach to running his clubs, and it got very personal. So when it came time for Veeck to record his life (or at least the first five decades, he lived until 1986), he exacted his revenge, taking his side of his skirmishes with Frick, Yankees general manager George Weiss, Yankees co-owner Del Webb—honestly, just about every significant figure in baseball—public. Veeck’s career, of course, was about much more than political infighting. Though he acknowledges in the first chapter that he’ll forever be known as the man who sent a midget to bat, the significance of that stunt often overshadows what Veeck sought to achieve by signing Eddie Gaedel to a one-game contract. It was all about making the game fun to draw fans to the park, and nobody was better at it than Veeck. But there was much more to it than gimmicks. Veeck built winners in Cleveland and Chicago, capturing a World Series title in 1948, just his second full year at the helm of the Indians. He recognized what most of his fellow owners would not publicly acknowledge in the 1940s: the Negro Leagues were brimming with talent that could help his major league club. Veeck sought to purchase the Philadelphia Phillies in 1942 and stock the roster with Negro League stars. Frick and then-Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis squelched the deal, and baseball waited five more years until Jackie Robinson broke the color line. Veeck integrated the American League a couple months later, signing Larry Doby for the Indians. In 1948, he was denounced for signing an aging Satchel Paige, though Veeck had the last laugh when Paige went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA in 72.2 valuable innings as a swingman, helping spur the Tribe to the pennant. Out of baseball at the time he and Ed Linn collaborated on the book due to health problems, Veeck ended the book with a bit of showy foreshadowing. “Sometime, somewhere, there will be a club no one really wants. And then Ole Will will come wandering along to laugh some more. Look for me under the arc-lights, boys. I’ll be back.” It took more than another decade, but he eventually did return to the game, buying back the White Sox in 1975. While his reputation among the old establishment was forever tarnished, the younger generation appreciated his approach as an apostle for baseball, drawing new fans by the tens of thousands in every city in which he operated. In 1991, five years too late for him to enjoy it, Veeck was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. While many of his critics have fallen along the dusty road of time, Veeck—and his reputation—have only improved with age.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    "All I was saying was that a losing team, plus bread and circuses, was better than a losing team and a long, still silence." Thank Bill Veeck for floppy hat night and bobblehead giveaways at the ballpark. He started them. He also was responsible for planting the ivy on the Wrigley Field outfield wall. A great read for anyone who hopes to own and run a service-related business. BONUS: I was in a junk shop in Knoxville before my sister's wedding in 2000 and happened upon a slightly worn hardbound edi "All I was saying was that a losing team, plus bread and circuses, was better than a losing team and a long, still silence." Thank Bill Veeck for floppy hat night and bobblehead giveaways at the ballpark. He started them. He also was responsible for planting the ivy on the Wrigley Field outfield wall. A great read for anyone who hopes to own and run a service-related business. BONUS: I was in a junk shop in Knoxville before my sister's wedding in 2000 and happened upon a slightly worn hardbound edition. I opened it to find Veeck's autograph on the first page. Best 14 bucks I ever spent.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nils Samuels

    The best baseball biography I have read, with a first person voice akin to Saul Bellow's =Henderson the Rain King=. Grand and playful and a fascinating look at the now lost world of maverick do-it-yourselfer as major sports team owner. The carnival quality of some of Veeck's stunts reminds us that sports should be fun.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Doug

    The best baseball book ever. End of story. Forget the nostalgic, sugary and superstitious story of baseball. Here's the real history of the forties and fifties, told by one of the game's true heroes.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Dan

    5 stars. This was one of the funniest baseball books that I’ve ever read. Veeck was one of the hardest working and unconventional characters to manage or own a baseball team. Not always politically correct Veeck had a devil may care attitude to baseball management, promotion and ownership. He was never a terribly wealthy man and was never a majority owner. In fact he was often leveraged to the hilt by borrowing from many sources. There are numerous stories of Veeck needing cash from a Sunday gam 5 stars. This was one of the funniest baseball books that I’ve ever read. Veeck was one of the hardest working and unconventional characters to manage or own a baseball team. Not always politically correct Veeck had a devil may care attitude to baseball management, promotion and ownership. He was never a terribly wealthy man and was never a majority owner. In fact he was often leveraged to the hilt by borrowing from many sources. There are numerous stories of Veeck needing cash from a Sunday game to prevent default on Monday morning. I tend to be circumspect about the full truthfulness of any auto-biography. It is also true with this book since there aren’t many negative portrayals of himself. There is humility to be sure but nothing too serious. But with that I was amazed with the following events and people who intersected with Veeck: 1. Al Capone (a Cub’s fan) gifted Veeck and his father with a vintage wine delivery after Capone learned that Veeck’s father (President of the Cubs) was losing a battle with leukemia. 2. Veeck signed Larry Doby and Satchel Paige who became the 2nd and 3rd African Americans to play in the Major Leagues. 3. Promoted Harry Carey to prominence and asked Carey to sing Take Me Out to the Ball Game for the first time despite Carey’s own anxiety that he was an awful singer. 4. In Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland and Milwaukee, Veeck heavily promoted Ladies Night. 5. Veeck was the mastermind of Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park in 1979. 6. He pulled off the Eddie Gaedel publicity stunt in St Louis, for $200 he signed Gaedel, a very short circus performer, and sent him up to bat in the second game of a doubleheader and Gaedel walked on four straight pitches. 7. He financially turned around all the teams he owned and did this primarily through better customer service and promotions. 8. Veeck’s teams went to the World Series twice that was the Cleveland Indians. He had Hall of Famers Satchel Paige and Bob Feller on that team in 1948. 9. He tried to buy the Philadelphia Phillies in 1944 but Judge Landis blocked the sale when he found out Veeck was planning on signing Negro League Players — this was three years before Jackie Robinson’s debut. Highly recommended for baseball fans of 1930’s to 1970’s.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    I'm stealing this line from my mother, but I feel like I just listened to Bill Veeck tell me stories at a bar for an evening. (This is likely colored by his many accounts of enjoying nightlife.) I was born 25 years after the most recent events in the book, so most of the names held little meaning for me, but Veeck's an entertaining enough storyteller that it didn't matter all too much. What surprised me the most was how many of his arguments could have been pulled from a post on Deadspin--rants i I'm stealing this line from my mother, but I feel like I just listened to Bill Veeck tell me stories at a bar for an evening. (This is likely colored by his many accounts of enjoying nightlife.) I was born 25 years after the most recent events in the book, so most of the names held little meaning for me, but Veeck's an entertaining enough storyteller that it didn't matter all too much. What surprised me the most was how many of his arguments could have been pulled from a post on Deadspin--rants in favor of showmanship by players, or decrying the faults of amateurism. We're still having these discussions today, and Veeck was talking about them a half-century ago.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brad Lyerla

    I should love this book. Veeck is my kind of guy, I think. But I don't love his book. It's too much of a "getting even" bio. Veeck is telling his story to settle up some old scores, more than he is to teach me things that I would enjoy learning. It's about him and not his readers. Oh well. That's business biography in our era (which started in the 60s when Veeck penned this book). Still, his unique role in baseball's American League during the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s make a pretty good story. So, I I should love this book. Veeck is my kind of guy, I think. But I don't love his book. It's too much of a "getting even" bio. Veeck is telling his story to settle up some old scores, more than he is to teach me things that I would enjoy learning. It's about him and not his readers. Oh well. That's business biography in our era (which started in the 60s when Veeck penned this book). Still, his unique role in baseball's American League during the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s make a pretty good story. So, I can't tell you not to read it. But I can tell you this could have been a much better book with a little more factual narrative and a little less self-justification.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    I think you have to be a baseball fan to understand all the deals he was making and to better understand the context of it all but what a fascinating life. A very creative business man and man of the people. I was growing up during the latter part of his life with the White Sox (the book is prior to that era)and was aware of him always being out the stands. Pretty cool to get a better understanding of it all.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    This book made me wish I had met Veeck at some point in my life. He's the kind of guy you want to have a beer with, just sit back and listen. Good read for baseball fans. Also, for people who like to tweak sacred cows.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    An entertaining autobiography by the man who brought us two of the great American innovations, the exploding scoreboard and a midget ballplayer with a 1.5" strike zone.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stacy

    A fascinating peek into the mind of a true baseball man.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jim Hammer

    I have to say as someone who has read numerous books on baseball, that this is at the top of my list. Veeck was one of the true characters of the game of baseball. Veeck got his start in baseball due to the fact his father worked for the Wrigley's in the Chicago Cubs organization. After the death of his father, Veeck stayed on and worked for the Cubs. From there he went on to own the Milwaukee Brewers (the just a minor league baseball team), the Clevelend Indians, the infamous St. Louise Browns, I have to say as someone who has read numerous books on baseball, that this is at the top of my list. Veeck was one of the true characters of the game of baseball. Veeck got his start in baseball due to the fact his father worked for the Wrigley's in the Chicago Cubs organization. After the death of his father, Veeck stayed on and worked for the Cubs. From there he went on to own the Milwaukee Brewers (the just a minor league baseball team), the Clevelend Indians, the infamous St. Louise Browns, and the Chicago White Sox on two separate occasions. Although some of Veeck's contemporaries accused him of making a mockery of the game with is outlandish promotions, I think his efforts probably saved the game of baseball in some cities. Veeck approached the game as a business man with a child's perspective. He was not above manipulating the rules to his advantage. In every place that he controlled a baseball team minus St. Louis, I think it is safe to say Veeck was successful. When Veeck took over the Browns, he inherited a ball club long on debt, short on funds, and short on talent. They also were competing with the St. Louis Cardinals for fans in a city that really couldn't support two baseball teams. Veeck realized this and focused on the idea of running the Cardinals out of town. It's hard to imagine anyone thinking of running the Cardinals out of town. Veeck's idea came to a halt when Fred Saigh sold the Cardinals to Gussie Busch and Anheuser-Busch. Veeck financially could not compete and attempted to move the Browns. He had made so many enemies within the "Old Guard" of owners that the only way they would allow the team to move would be if Veeck sold the team first. In effect, the baseball owners wanted to get rid of Veeck and bankrupt him in the process. Obviously, it is easy to detect Veeck's bitterness in the book. He did however make a comeback years later when he purchased the Chicago White Sox and led them to the pennant in 1959. He also reaquired the White Sox in the late 70s as well. The most remarkable thing about Veeck is his love for the game. He did look at it through childlike eyes but possessed a business instinct as well. Some of the reforms that he proposed to the league in the 1940s were frowned upon by many of the league owners, particularly the god-like New York Yankees who had nothing to gain and everything to lose from the proposals. Hence the proposals "died in committee". These proposals only led to the further deterioration of the relationship between Veeck and the owners. Ironically, almost 70 years later, many of the proposals are standard methods of operation in Major League Baseball. Veeck spends time in the book talking about many of the characters in the game like Hal Peck, Satchel Paige, Larry Doby, Casey Stengal, Rogers Hornsby, Ford Frick, the Griffiths of Washington, the O'Malleys of Brooklyn/Los Angeles, and Tom Yawkey of Boston. In each instance it is quite evident of his opinion of each. The anecdotes that he shares either make you laugh (see Satchel Paige), angry(see Walter O'Malley), or shake your head in dismay (see Ford Frick). He also goes into great detail to explain the "good old boys network" that existed in Major League Baseball at the time. Veeck introduced many things to Major League Baseball: Ladies Day, the midget, the exploding scoreboard, and Disco Sucks night. Some were overwhelming successes and many were unquestionable failures. What I liked about Veeck's approach was that he wanted the fans to "experience" a baseball game. Yes, winning was important, but Veeck on numerous occasions realized he did not have the horses to compete, yet he still wanted fans to have an entertaining experience. I don't know if you could make the statement that "Bill Veeck saved baseball" but I do think it is safe to say that Veeck made it a more entertaining game.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bonnieb

    This autobiography is a good read for anyone interested in baseball history, baseball business history, the backstage happenings of the sport and some funny stories. Bill Veeck was certainly one of a kind. I actually enjoyed the first part of the book more than the rest. This was where I learned many things, including: * that Bill’s dad was President of the Cubs from 1917--1933 * that they won the Nat’l League pennant in 1918 * Bill’s dad was always Mr. Veeck, was a journalist before becoming Pres This autobiography is a good read for anyone interested in baseball history, baseball business history, the backstage happenings of the sport and some funny stories. Bill Veeck was certainly one of a kind. I actually enjoyed the first part of the book more than the rest. This was where I learned many things, including: * that Bill’s dad was President of the Cubs from 1917--1933 * that they won the Nat’l League pennant in 1918 * Bill’s dad was always Mr. Veeck, was a journalist before becoming President of the Cubs, and was asked by the new owner, Wm Wrigley Sr to take the job when he bought the Cubs in 1917. * that Wrigley Field was marketed as the ‘beautiful Wrigley Field’ and ‘family-friendly’ as early as the 1930s. Phil Wrigley “made the park itself his best promotion”. * that Veeck was 3 when his Dad took over the club, worked every part of the stadium even as a young boy, and as his Dad died when he was 15-16, so Phil Wrigley took over about the same time. * as early as 1934 Veeck tried to get Wrigley to put lights into the stadium. No other park had lights yet. Wrigley called it a ‘fad, a passing fancy.’ One year later the other clubs started putting lights in...and as we know, the Cubs still did not have lights when this book was first written in 1972. * the idea for the ivy-covered bleachers came from Perry Stadium in Indianapolis. * Wrigley did not believe in the farm system as it stood. felt that farm teams should be able to sell players to ANY of the MLB teams. He subsidized Milwaukee, but let them sell to anyone. Renounced all rights to players. one overriding flaw of Phil Wrigley: “He knows more about things and less about people than any man I have ever met.” 39 * Al Capone supplied a case of champagne daily to his Dad’s bedside. Prohibition had just ended; nothing was available but Veeck’s dad was dying of leukemia. * Veeck owned the Cleveland Indians, ran Miami for a season, and owned the White Sox twice...the first time winning the World Series with them. * He was run out of baseball a couple of times. * the story of the expansion to the west coast is so filled with politics, money, back room manipulating...it makes elected politics look clean. * Del Webb...learned about him as a developer, builder, politician. * With his leg hurt as a young man, infections set in and he kept losing more and more of his leg. He liked to be called a cripple, not handicapped. As he says in the book, “Webster defines a cripple as ‘a lame or partly disabled person.’ I’m not handicapped; I’m crippled.” 375 WEbster defines handicapped as: “to place at a disadvantage.” “I don’t believe I am. I believe I can do anything anybody else can do that doesn’t involve quick sprints, high jumps and a fast buck-and-wing. And so, far more important, although I am crippled, I am not handicapped.” * The lyrics, na na na na, hey hey hey hey, goodbye now sung in sporting venues across the country were from a song that came out in 1969 and sung by Steam...were first sung by White Sox fans in 1977 when they had a great first half of the season before running out of steam.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    As I noted in a status update, Veeck was fully aware that he would go down in history as the guy who sent a midget to bat. He was fine with that, but this book shows there was a lot more to the man. And it doesn't hurt that he can tell a good story. Baseball is a game that was built on big characters. They seem to be missing from the game today. Sure, some of the players can be a little wacky (e.g. Manny Ramirez), but most of the personality has left the owner's boxes. Baseball's aristocracy does As I noted in a status update, Veeck was fully aware that he would go down in history as the guy who sent a midget to bat. He was fine with that, but this book shows there was a lot more to the man. And it doesn't hurt that he can tell a good story. Baseball is a game that was built on big characters. They seem to be missing from the game today. Sure, some of the players can be a little wacky (e.g. Manny Ramirez), but most of the personality has left the owner's boxes. Baseball's aristocracy does nothing to prevent a Jeffrey Loria or Frank McCourt from doing his level-best to ruin a few franchises, but the Commissioner is quick to rebuke anyone who so much as hints at criticism of another owner, an umpire, or team. I doubt a guy like Veeck would even be able to get his name on the agenda of an owner's meeting today, much less be allowed to buy into the league. Veeck's personal philosophy seemed to be something along the lines of "let's have as much fun as possible, and if we happen to make some money along the way, so much the better." Today, the bottom line is king. The reason teams like the Marlins, Pirates, and Royals have been so bad for so long isn't that they can't compete with the big market clubs. It's that they pocket all of the money they make. They're more interested in their return on investment than putting out a winning product or putting on a good show for the fans. Veeck understood that without the fans, there's no such thing as major league baseball. It was his solemn duty to provide as much entertainment as possible to either enhance or distract from his team. Veeck wouldn't be able to survive in today's big league system with free agency and teams serving more as pieces of an investment portfolio than modes of entertainment. I imagine he'd probably be an operator in an independent league out there somewhere though, putting together promotions and trying to get by year to year. Baseball would be better off if more owners took Veeck's approach to things. But he was also such a force of personality and will that any attempt at imitation would come across as a poor impersonation.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    Quite self-aggrandizing but it is an autobiography. Veeck is quick to remind you that about every good idea was his and every terrible idea was someone else's. He also loves to tell how the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians won pennants under his ownership, but oddly doesn't mention those years with the St. Louis Browns. Forget that the White Sox were a pretty good team when he purchased them. It was also a time when apparently you can go to lunch and wind up buying a baseball team because Quite self-aggrandizing but it is an autobiography. Veeck is quick to remind you that about every good idea was his and every terrible idea was someone else's. He also loves to tell how the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians won pennants under his ownership, but oddly doesn't mention those years with the St. Louis Browns. Forget that the White Sox were a pretty good team when he purchased them. It was also a time when apparently you can go to lunch and wind up buying a baseball team because people were always "getting deals done." Also, if Satchell Paige was so effective, why was he used sparingly out of the bullpen? Through all that, this is pretty seminal reading for baseball fans. 1. Veeck was one of the last owners in MLB that was not independently wealthy. He goes into great detail about his various financial aerobics to get the millions he needed to even get a 30 or 40 percent share of a team. He also goes into detail of owners meetings including the debacle of when Veeck was unable to procure the votes needed to move the Browns to Baltimore and subsequently spent six years out of the league. 2. If nothing else, Veeck thought outside of the box, for better or worse. He supported interleague play and the dissolution of the teams' farm systems. Interestingly, he also was concerned about the time of games even though most games were not televised (or before TV) so games were left to their own volition. He recommended limiting warm-up pitches between innings and requiring only two strikes for a strikeout (and three balls for a walk). 3. Despite that vision, he also signed a "midget" to go to bat and gave fans signs to decide in-game strategy. 4. He also goes into detail about signing Larry Doby, who broke the color barrier in the American League in Cleveland. Although for some unexplained reason Veeck has it out for Branch Rickey. He doesn't overtly criticize Rickey but there seems to be some animosity. Veeck does criticize Rickey for not paying Jackie Robinson's team for his services. Because paying another owner for the services of a black player is by no means demeaning.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Spiros

    Simply put, Bill Veeck was one of my all-time favorite Americans, a man who started with something and recurrently risked it all in the interest of giving people a good show. His father, William Veeck, was a Chicago journalist who was hired by William Wrigley to run the Chicago Cubs. Wiped out by the Great Depression, Veeck Sr. was unable to leave his offspring any great financial wealth, but he left his son a huge capital of goodwill in the Game, which Bill was able to draw upon over his years Simply put, Bill Veeck was one of my all-time favorite Americans, a man who started with something and recurrently risked it all in the interest of giving people a good show. His father, William Veeck, was a Chicago journalist who was hired by William Wrigley to run the Chicago Cubs. Wiped out by the Great Depression, Veeck Sr. was unable to leave his offspring any great financial wealth, but he left his son a huge capital of goodwill in the Game, which Bill was able to draw upon over his years in baseball. "For my part, I have wandered around a bit in baseball. Wherever I land, I make it clear to the girls at the switchboard and the guys who run the elevator that I am 'Bill'. I believe very strongly that we are all working together for the best interests of the ball club. I cannot see why the fact that I own some stock and they don't should have any bearing on our personal relationship. I do not have my father's inborn sense of dignity, and false dignity annoys me." Essentially, Veeck was the polar opposite of Charlie Finley: both men stood in opposition to the rest of baseball's ownership, but while Finley was given to paranoia and megalomania, Veeck was always ready to have a laugh at his own expense, as well as at the expense of the stuffed shirts in the Commissioner's Office. Finley ran the A's into the ground, while Veeck set attendance records wherever he took his operations. Veeck, writing in 1962, did have a blindspot regarding the telecast of home games, and how televising one's home games could actually help promote attendance; aside from that, he was very much on top of things.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sherrie

    One of the most entertaining autobiographies I have ever read. When I finished it, I felt like I had listened to Bill Veeck telling me stories at a bar more than I felt like I had read a book. Veeck was a man far, far ahead of his time in promoting baseball; things like exploding scoreboards, special "Days" at the ballpark, outlandish promotions, and many, many more were originated by this man. (I was sad to learn that Veeck was gone from Chicago before my personal all time favorite event, Disco One of the most entertaining autobiographies I have ever read. When I finished it, I felt like I had listened to Bill Veeck telling me stories at a bar more than I felt like I had read a book. Veeck was a man far, far ahead of his time in promoting baseball; things like exploding scoreboards, special "Days" at the ballpark, outlandish promotions, and many, many more were originated by this man. (I was sad to learn that Veeck was gone from Chicago before my personal all time favorite event, Disco Demolition Night, took place, but I'm sure he would have loved it) In an age where "big" and "loud" (and "fan-friendly") were not words used in connection with baseball, and a Game Day Ops Manager would have been undreamed of, Veeck thought of them all. For his efforts, he was of course not a popular man with the stuffy baseball hierarchy of the time, and the recounting of his battles takes up a great deal of the book. "Veeck" is of course somewhat dated, since it was written in 1952 and updated in the 60s, and tells of years before that. I remember Ladies Day at the ballpark very well, but today very few women have to adjust their stockings at the game, and most women I know have a pretty good basic understanding of baseball (possibly because their mothers were beneficiaries of Ladies' Days? It wouldn't surprise me) so that particular event has fallen by the wayside. But for anyone interested in the evolution of baseball to where it is today, this book is a must read.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Randal

    Mad Men meets the Bronx Zoo ... If all you know about Bill Veeck is that he's the guy who sent a midget up to bat in the majors, the first chapter is for you. It's also the best story in the book, although there are many, many good anecdotes. The book starts to lose steam about halfway, when it gets more into the back-room politics of who got what franchise and why, although it was undoubtedly a powderkeg when it was published and the people Veeck trashes were alive (or their children even ... it Mad Men meets the Bronx Zoo ... If all you know about Bill Veeck is that he's the guy who sent a midget up to bat in the majors, the first chapter is for you. It's also the best story in the book, although there are many, many good anecdotes. The book starts to lose steam about halfway, when it gets more into the back-room politics of who got what franchise and why, although it was undoubtedly a powderkeg when it was published and the people Veeck trashes were alive (or their children even ... it really trails off after about 1969). It will confirm any belief you may have that the sport is run by a bunch of selfish, stupid old men, and has been for approximately forever. When I was about 50 pages in, I had to doublecheck that there was a ghostwriter (Ed Linn, who has several sports bios to his name). It comes across in the sort of inelegant, blustery prose one connects more with old, rich drunks than authors. Veeck was a showman, con artist, life of the party (the story where several people took a tray of martinis to put a friend on a train in NYC then chartered a plane and met the friend in Cleveland with fresh martinis -- on the same tray -- is a classic), baseball man and all-around huckster. If you go in with the expectation that almost none of the hundreds of names Veeck drops will mean anything to you, it's definitely worth a read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Theo Logos

    hey just don't make baseball owners like Bill Veeck anymore, and it is our loss. Maverick, visionary, and showman extraordinaire; Bill had a ball setting baseball's staid establishment on its ear with his unorthodox tactics, mischievous spirit, and wild promotions. He was an every-man who never lost the common touch, and believed that to be the secret of his success. His promotions and gimmicks bedeviled and enraged his fellow owners and the purists within the mort bound baseball establishment w hey just don't make baseball owners like Bill Veeck anymore, and it is our loss. Maverick, visionary, and showman extraordinaire; Bill had a ball setting baseball's staid establishment on its ear with his unorthodox tactics, mischievous spirit, and wild promotions. He was an every-man who never lost the common touch, and believed that to be the secret of his success. His promotions and gimmicks bedeviled and enraged his fellow owners and the purists within the mort bound baseball establishment while they delighted the fans who Bill had a knack for attracting anywhere he went. In this fascinating, fun, romp of an autobiography, Veeck showed that his knack for telling stories was as well honed as his knack for whacky promotions. Working with the outstanding Ed Linn (who also co-wrote Leo Duroucher's autobiography `Nice Guys Finish Last') Veeck served up his life's tale one entertaining story after another. Whether writing about sending a midget to pinch hit in a ball game, planting the ivy in Wrigley Field as a young man, creating the first exploding scoreboard, creatively financing and finagling ownership deals, or feuding with fellow owners, Veeck's stories are hits, every one. If you love baseball, mavericks, or showmen, you can't go wrong with this one - highly recommended.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Joe Santoro

    Funnily enough, this book seemed to mirror Mr. Veeck's career. At the beginning, it was brilliant. Great writing style, and it could easily serve as a marketing textbook not just for baseball, but really in general. I felt like I was sitting down to have dinner with the man, and he was engaging me with stories of his career and imparting his wisdom. About half way through (right about the time the baseball establishment got sick of his antics and/or jealous of his success) the book turns into rant Funnily enough, this book seemed to mirror Mr. Veeck's career. At the beginning, it was brilliant. Great writing style, and it could easily serve as a marketing textbook not just for baseball, but really in general. I felt like I was sitting down to have dinner with the man, and he was engaging me with stories of his career and imparting his wisdom. About half way through (right about the time the baseball establishment got sick of his antics and/or jealous of his success) the book turns into rant after rant about the various American League owners and officials that vexed him in his time with the Browns and out of baseball. Here, he turns into a grumpy old man complaining about the world, and playing the unappreciated genius. Now, granted, he was a baseball marketing genius, and, in fact, was right about many things (just as games being too long, the rise of football, Interleague play, etc), but saying so and pointing out who was wrong seems alot like sour grapes. Then there's a weird 40 pages or so in the middle about the social scene in Cleveland in the early 50s, which seems like it should be in a different book. Overall, though, a great book to read to start off baseball season.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Alan Myszkowski

    The most interesting arc this book manages to portray is the outside perspective of Veeck with the inner workings of his conscious mind. Which never seem to coincide with one another. Self-proclaimed enemies intertwine with his closest of friends, he runs successful operations while he fails at others, and he is prophetic yet unable to win the trust of any other owner. At the end of the day, his dire need to stay out of his fathers shadow leads him to a life of unconformity and political incorre The most interesting arc this book manages to portray is the outside perspective of Veeck with the inner workings of his conscious mind. Which never seem to coincide with one another. Self-proclaimed enemies intertwine with his closest of friends, he runs successful operations while he fails at others, and he is prophetic yet unable to win the trust of any other owner. At the end of the day, his dire need to stay out of his fathers shadow leads him to a life of unconformity and political incorrectness to the outside world. However, his gratitude to ballplayers, willingness to mingle with fans, tireless work ethic, and loyalty to those in his past should be commended. He was a man with a huge heart who was unable to always control his emotions (which could be attributed to a lack of sleep). Was the book great? I dunno. Way too much owner financial jargon and not enough personal stories of legendary ballplayers deem it average in my mind. But the book is a necessary read for anybody who claims a love for baseball and its tradition. For there may have never been as colorful of a personality in ownership.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

    This should be required reading for anyone wanting to own a professional sports franchise. I was amazed at how a book written 52 years ago is full of great ideas and common sense logic that is still in short supply by owners today. Veeck knew how to run a team, and all gimmicks and promotions aside, he was wise beyond his years. You cannot refute this, either, because reading his autobiography with fifty two years of hindsight and history vindicates the man and his ideas. I was amazed at how bac This should be required reading for anyone wanting to own a professional sports franchise. I was amazed at how a book written 52 years ago is full of great ideas and common sense logic that is still in short supply by owners today. Veeck knew how to run a team, and all gimmicks and promotions aside, he was wise beyond his years. You cannot refute this, either, because reading his autobiography with fifty two years of hindsight and history vindicates the man and his ideas. I was amazed at how backwards team owners were compared to today, because you learn that the traits that make a bad team owner have been universal constants, and that few, if any, ever question them. Especially now, in a time where owners are able to turn profits with intentionally bad teams thanks to revenue sharing and national TV contracts, or threaten relocation as a bargaining chip for publicly funded parks. I took a lot away from this book, and I believe you will too.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Paul Lyons

    Maverick Major and Minor League Baseball owner, showman, and provocateur Bill Veeck was indeed one of the greats. He not only owned ball clubs, he also was a promotional strategist of the expert kind, an innovative rebel with a cause. As evident in "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," Bill Veeck loved to clash against the status quo, and in turn create the finest entertainment a ballpark can have. I wish I enjoyed Bill Veeck's autobiography more than I actually did. A self-descr Maverick Major and Minor League Baseball owner, showman, and provocateur Bill Veeck was indeed one of the greats. He not only owned ball clubs, he also was a promotional strategist of the expert kind, an innovative rebel with a cause. As evident in "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," Bill Veeck loved to clash against the status quo, and in turn create the finest entertainment a ballpark can have. I wish I enjoyed Bill Veeck's autobiography more than I actually did. A self-described colorful man, Veeck seemed to be cut from a different cloth than other baseball owners. The son of Chicago Cubs President William Veeck, Bill Veeck did not come from great wealth, nor was he a man who made millions in other fields (excuse the pun) as it were. No, for most of his life, Bill Veeck had one business and one business only: baseball. Bill Veeck was a hustler, working 18-20-hour days doing everything he can to accomplish a goal. As a ball club owner, Veeck had to beg, borrow and steal to gain majority ownership of a team. He understood contracts and finance, and knew how to handle stocks, debentures and stock holders. He knew baseball, and understood what it took to build a strong, competitive team even without a lot of money to play with. Veeck was never one to sit back and relax when faced with a dilemma, instead he'd roll up his sleeves and get to work cleaning the ballpark, and handle concessions, and spend the games among the fans around the ballpark...getting to know them, and what they liked, and did not like. Better still, Bill Veeck went out of his way to give the fans the best possible entertainment for their money. Veeck's promotional stunts were legendary. He put a midget up to bat. He made sure fireworks punctuated as many games as possible, and was instrumental in popularizing the exploding scoreboard. Veeck spent thousands of days and nights in halls around the country making promotional speeches, and was instrumental in having days dedicated to this or that group of citizens such as "Ladies Day," Croatian-American Day," "Kids Day," etc...Bill Veeck was the P.T. Barnum of Baseball, often bringing circus acts to the ballparks, and having music nights and other forms of entertainment to enhance the ballpark experience. According to his own words in "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," Veeck was a fair and generous ball club owner. He'd give bonuses to ballplayers not when they were up, but when they were down. He fought the tired and crusty old ways of the baseball Commissioner as well as fellow ball club owners to expand the leagues, and create a more competitive environment. He brought the great pitcher Satchel Paige into the major leagues. Veeck refused to wear a tie, and went out of his way to make sure loyal fans got their chance to buy World Series tickets. As with his promotional activities, Veeck was a pro-active strategist. As long as it did not officially violate Major League Baseball rules, Veeck was not above cutting a few corners in order to give his home team the advantage. Stealing signs? Sure, as long as the team is smart about it. Readjusting the baseball field and pitcher's mound to give his Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns or Chicago White Sox a game advantage? Why not? As fas as Bill Veeck was concerned, it's all part of the fun of competition. With a troubled first marriage, the loss of one leg, and the constant battles Veeck had with club owners, league presidents and baseball commissioners, you would think Bill Veeck would be a bitter, angry man. "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," does not hide the fact that the author had more than a few axes to grind. However, it is made clear that despite massive adversity, Bill Veeck usually had a smile on his face, a fun and playful spirit, and welcomed trouble with open arms. Bill Veeck was a man who liked to party, throw parties, and live life to the fullest. Yet...I had a hard time reading Veeck's book. With "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," I enjoyed what I could follow. However, I could not follow a lot. It was very difficult to keep track of all of the names Veeck mentions in the book. Between the team owners, presidents, managers, commissioners, ball players, and newspaper men, a reader would have to giant chart to keep track of who was who, and how they fit into the narrative. Veeck loved to discuss complicated player trades, stock, and financial deals with as much as detail as he could muster. Sadly, I rarely was able to make heads nor tails of it all. In addition, Veeck would throw in off-the-cuff bombshells that would consistently throw me off the rails. In one paragraph the author mentioned the excitement of closing the deal to become owner of the Chicago White Sox in 1959, only to mention in passing (a sentence or two later) that he had to sell the team in 1961. Sure he would explain the details later in the book, yet it was enough to force me to re-read a page or two in an effort to comprehend what I was reading. With "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," I had to do A LOT of re-reading. As a result, the book (and the pages found within) grew to be a chore to get through. I'm glad to have read "Veeck As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck," in the sense that I got to learn about a man I otherwise had never heard of. Bill Veeck indeed seemed to be a great man, and a lot of fun to be around. I only wish his autobiography was better edited, at least in the name of structure, clarity and to a great extent: enjoyment. This book should have been as fun and as colorful as Bill Veeck himself. It just wasn't.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Witt

    I feel like, were I 20 years older and read this when it first came out in the early 80s, I would've found it amazing. Instead, not so much. Kinda' want to give it 2.5 stars, but it's not an option. At times the book gets lost in bookkeeping, but the stories about the period of his life in Milwaukee and Cleveland were great. Still, for anybody interested in Veeck and/or baseball history of the 40s through 70s, it's an important book to read. Again, it might just be my problem. Those are probably t I feel like, were I 20 years older and read this when it first came out in the early 80s, I would've found it amazing. Instead, not so much. Kinda' want to give it 2.5 stars, but it's not an option. At times the book gets lost in bookkeeping, but the stories about the period of his life in Milwaukee and Cleveland were great. Still, for anybody interested in Veeck and/or baseball history of the 40s through 70s, it's an important book to read. Again, it might just be my problem. Those are probably the exact portions of baseball history that I happen to be least interested in. So it's me, not you.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    This was Erica's choice for Book Forcening. Some of the things Veeck did as a ball club owner are things familiar to anyone who attends games today. But some of the things he got up to (particularly surrounding the business side of the game) I cannot even imagine happening nowadays. Veeck definitely blazed his own trail, and he seems like the kind of guy who would be fun to gab a drink with. I'm not very knowledgeable on MLB history, so it's kind of fun to read about times when teams either didn't This was Erica's choice for Book Forcening. Some of the things Veeck did as a ball club owner are things familiar to anyone who attends games today. But some of the things he got up to (particularly surrounding the business side of the game) I cannot even imagine happening nowadays. Veeck definitely blazed his own trail, and he seems like the kind of guy who would be fun to gab a drink with. I'm not very knowledgeable on MLB history, so it's kind of fun to read about times when teams either didn't exist or where known by different names in different cities, and mull over what's changed (and hello, O'Malleys, what hasn't).

  26. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tutak

    This is the second time I've read this book, and it's a fitting read for the beginning of baseball season. It's a funny, insightful, and revealing autobiography of probably the most unique baseball franchise owner in history, Bill Veeck. The reader gets to understand the hows and whys of Eddie Gaedel's at bat, the innovations and gimmicks that Veeck plotted (and instituted) to modernize the game and increase attendance, and other unique aspects of financing and owning a ball club in the 1940s an This is the second time I've read this book, and it's a fitting read for the beginning of baseball season. It's a funny, insightful, and revealing autobiography of probably the most unique baseball franchise owner in history, Bill Veeck. The reader gets to understand the hows and whys of Eddie Gaedel's at bat, the innovations and gimmicks that Veeck plotted (and instituted) to modernize the game and increase attendance, and other unique aspects of financing and owning a ball club in the 1940s and 1950s. He indeed was unique, and stands above and beyond others of his ilk as creative, passionate about the sport, and most of all, a fan's type of owner. Just wonderful.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    Entertaining and rambling autobiography of one of the most interesting team owners in baseball history. Veeck was a guy who had a million war stories to tell, and he tells them in full yarn-spinning style, with all the strengths (funny, insightful, spontaneous) and weaknesses (disorganized, sometimes overextended) thereof. Great for baseball history fans or people interested in the politicking behind a professional sports league.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    This book is almost 50 years old (written in 1962). A very entertaining book written by a guy who preferred to do things his own way, and was definitely not afraid to rock the boat. In fact, he often insisted in rocking the boat because it needed to be rocked. I think you don't even have to be a baseball fan to enjoy Bill Veeck's story. This is the second time I've read this book. He had a different way of looking at things, and one can argue it was often a better way.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Doug

    A book about Veeck's life as a baseball owner, and from the midget batters to the fireworks shows and giveaways, there certainly has no lack of amusing and colorful anecdotes. I never understood how the baseball speech in Field of Dreams correlated to the comparatively sterile, corporate form of baseball today, but Veecks freewheeling style of running a baseball team harkens back to that era. A book about Veeck's life as a baseball owner, and from the midget batters to the fireworks shows and giveaways, there certainly has no lack of amusing and colorful anecdotes. I never understood how the baseball speech in Field of Dreams correlated to the comparatively sterile, corporate form of baseball today, but Veecks freewheeling style of running a baseball team harkens back to that era.

  30. 4 out of 5

    David

    One of the funniest books a baseball fan could ever want. First read it in the '60s when Veeck was still active and re-read in 1976. He was responsible for many fan-friendly enhancements to sporting events, including fireworks when the home teams hit a home run or won a game. Lots of serious material, too, about how Veeck overcame financial difficulties to become an owner and about his battles with stick-in-the-mud old-time owners. But still humorous throughout.

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