Quote of the day comes from baseball maverick Bill Veeck, who was born 100 years ago this year. Veeck, who lost part of his leg serving in World War II, loved to buck the system, a fact that often irritated the stuffed shirts who ran Major League baseball in post-war America.
Veeck, who was at various times the owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox, is remembered for a number of notable efforts, including:
- Signing Negro League star Larry Doby and thereby integrating the American League;
- Devising the concept of planting ivy on the walls of Wrigley Field;
- Sending 3-foot-7-inch Eddie Gaedel up to bat in a big league game (above); and
- Putting on ill-fated Disco Demolition Night at Chicago’s Comiskey Park, precipitating a riot.
Among the best baseball books ever written is Veeck As In Wreck, Veeck’s 1962 autobiography. In the work, Veeck, the consummate salesman, sums up his approach thusly:
“To give one can of beer to a thousand people is not nearly as much fun as to give 1,000 cans of beer to one guy. You give a thousand people a can of beer and each of them will drink it, smack his lips and go back to watching the game. You give 1,000 cans to one guy, and there is always the outside possibility that 50,000 people will talk about it.”
Veeck died in 1986; five years later the powers that be finally got with the program and elected him into the Baseball Hall of Fame.