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rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



I'm convinced that time literally doesn't matter in baseball documentary. Ken Burns couldn't keep it straight, Lords of the Realm couldn't keep it straight, it's basically impossible. It doesn't help that in this book, Veeck drops names constantly. I've been reading for entertainment's sake, so I'm never going to remember the name of Drunk Pitcher #4 because it's not important. I've pretty much accepted by around the midpoint that it's just going to continue to be a string of anecdotes. Amusing, but not terribly informative (as memoirs tend to be.)

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Twin Cinema
Jun 1, 2006



Playoffs are no big deal,
don't have a crap attack.


This book is long. Is anyone else still reading?

I just finished a few chapters. Some interesting things:

- He mentions how football is a college man's game, whereas baseball is a workingman's game. He also mentions how all American sports will be competing with soccer soon, which I guess is something people have been saying for 50 years now.
- He complains about there being no "colorful, bigger-than-life character" in sports. I guess Ali was still a few years from appearing.
- He mentions how there is such a small segment of people who come "to watch the geometric pattern of the game unfold in all its beautiful precision and balance". Whereas the average fan is only there to watch the home team win.
- "In 1948, we had an unbelievable high ratio of women customers. In fact, if you add the number of women who came in on Ladies' Day and the kids' groups and the special nights, our attendance that year was close to 4,000,000" (127). I have no reason to doubt Veeck, but B-R has the attendance at 2.6mil that season. Could these other customers really account for another 1-1.5mil?

angrygodofjebus
Aug 25, 2005

Drink it up and hunker down


I've got just over 100 pages left. He really did not like Ford Frick.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



I'm about halfway through. Gonna try to get through some more tonight. It's actually a remarkably fast read through that point, likely because it was probably 90% just transcribed by his wife as dictated.

Petanque
Apr 14, 2008

Ca va bien aller

Something else he said that still rings true today: the gate receipts are such a minor part of the total revenue. Without the TV and radio deals, no club would be in the black. It's gotten even more lopsided since the 80s when the book was written.

Twin Cinema
Jun 1, 2006



Playoffs are no big deal,
don't have a crap attack.


I just came across my favourite paragraph in the whole book (so far):

p. 265 posted:

When the Yankees did come up with a promotion, it was invariably tasteless and embarrassing. Two of their greatest promotions were their public farewells to their two dying giants, Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. I'll take my midgets and my circuses. Necromancy has never been to my taste.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



Roughly 100 pages left, I'm gonna try to finish it all before heading out of town this weekend. How's everyone else doing?

Names to add to the list of "People Veeck Hated": Del Webb, George Weiss, the Yankees in general, probably August Busch, basically the entirety of National League ownership (see also: Ford Frick), Roger Maris' asterisk.

The Pussy Boss
Nov 2, 2004



rickiep00h posted:

Roughly 100 pages left, I'm gonna try to finish it all before heading out of town this weekend. How's everyone else doing?

Names to add to the list of "People Veeck Hated": Del Webb, George Weiss, the Yankees in general, probably August Busch, basically the entirety of National League ownership (see also: Ford Frick), Roger Maris' asterisk.

I just finished, actually. Boy, Bill Veeck could dismantle someone with a few well-chosen words. What'd he call Weiss and Webb? A couple pitchers of ice water sitting on a conference table? :lol: And Frick was still Commissioner when this was published. Awesome. Bet that caused some pearls to be clutched.

Anime Reference posted:

I'm pretty sure he would've thrived in the free agent era. He would've fleeced everybody.

I do wonder if he would've changed his minds about bonuses. He was forward-thinking in a lot of ways but I thought he was way off base there, I mean, how does giving a signing bonus to a high schooler "siphon money out of the game" any more than a big leaguer's salary? What's the difference? I guess he believed that independent minor league teams needed to sell players to survive. Did some clubs still not own their own MILB teams in the 50's? I thought Branch Rickey invented the farm system in like, the 1930s. It's interesting to imagine an alternate timeline where the minors are still independent. I think the bonuses would be just as big, since the minors teams would be competing to sign prospects to sell to MLB.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



I think his complaint was that MLB farm systems were killing independent minors. Which was sort of true, but having come from the upper Midwest, I've seen some pretty good indie baseball in the St. Paul Saints, etc. Maybe not always MLB-track players, but certainly viable businesses. Which seems to be more what he was angling at--cheap entertainment for working-class people.

One thing that caught my eye was his idea for subsidizing college ball with MLB money. I don't know if think part happened, but a lot of guys opt for or stay in college, and a lot of teams look at high schoolers with a bit more suspicion now (at least in the US). When I read Moneyball it seemed like teams still hadn't picked up on high school players being huge unknowns outside of generational guys even in the 2000s.

The one common thread I've picked up on in the few baseball books I've read if how loving stupid most baseball executives are. And petty. Even Veeck, entertaining as his is, held grudges for decades. Baseball seems to continue to crank out money despite the jerkoffs running it, and it makes me wonder just how impressive and successful it would be if it weren't run by a group of dudes who still think local TV broadcasts hurt ticket sales.

angrygodofjebus
Aug 25, 2005

Drink it up and hunker down


I finished it last night. The last couple chapters were kind of boring (so much relocation chat), but overall definitely worth reading. It definitely does not paint a great picture of the inner workings of baseball. The diatribe near the end on umpires was great too.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



angrygodofjebus posted:

I finished it last night. The last couple chapters were kind of boring (so much relocation chat), but overall definitely worth reading. It definitely does not paint a great picture of the inner workings of baseball. The diatribe near the end on umpires was great too.

Umpires, like bases, are only on the field to keep the game moving. Or some such.

Petanque
Apr 14, 2008

Ca va bien aller

Reading his chapter about Satchel Paige has given me a craving for more stories about Satch. That guy was the coolest.

BDA
Dec 10, 2007

Extremely grim and evil.

rickiep00h posted:

The one common thread I've picked up on in the few baseball books I've read if how loving stupid most baseball executives are. And petty.
Did you read Lords of the Realm? Because "baseball owners are idiot children" is one of the major themes of that book.
In fact, I want to re-read it now and watch for spots where Veeck shows up.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



Anime Reference posted:

Did you read Lords of the Realm? Because "baseball owners are idiot children" is one of the major themes of that book.
In fact, I want to re-read it now and watch for spots where Veeck shows up.

I did. That and this and Moneyball and The Book are what I've read so far, and every single one of them is a story of owners, et al., being as dumb as is possible. Even Veeck is on the wrong side of the blackout question, IMO.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



Finished. I'm curious to see how people react to the end (the final two chapters specifically) considering he managed to hang on for another 20+ years after the book was published.

Twin Cinema
Jun 1, 2006



Playoffs are no big deal,
don't have a crap attack.


rickiep00h posted:

I did. That and this and Moneyball and The Book are what I've read so far, and every single one of them is a story of owners, et al., being as dumb as is possible. Even Veeck is on the wrong side of the blackout question, IMO.

Y'know, I kind of understand why owners would be hesitant at first to let their games be broadcast. Am I misremembering, or didn't it take a while for real money to start pouring in for TV rights? Also, in Veeck's position, I believe he mentioned that he was clearly the "second" team in St. Louis, and how difficult it was to earn the money that the Cardinals were making. He also had the worst radio deal, in that it was tied to where the team finished in their division.

But yes, he was on the wrong side.

I was surprised by how quickly they moved the Boston Braves to their new location in Milwaukee. Three weeks seems awfully quick (which is funny, because Veeck points out how the same objections that AL owners raised in his attempt at moving the Browns to either Milwaukee or Baltimore were not raised in this instance).

El Gallinero Gros
Mar 17, 2010


John Wilkes Booth posted:

Reading his chapter about Satchel Paige has given me a craving for more stories about Satch. That guy was the coolest.

This was a decent book about Satchel http://www.amazon.ca/Satchel-Life-Times-American-Legend/dp/0812977971/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1451670994&sr=8-1&keywords=satchel+paige

Twin Cinema
Jun 1, 2006



Playoffs are no big deal,
don't have a crap attack.


I assume this has already died. I got my book in mid-November, and I finished it a week ago.

Final thoughts? The final 100 pages are a slog. However, I did learn that Veeck is the man who both sent a little person up to bat, as well as the man in charge of running the Disco Demolition night. I also liked the afterword, which gave the reader a nice summary of Veeck's last 20 or so years.

This has now become one of my favourite baseball books.

rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



I got a pretty old edition from the library, so mine didn't have an afterword. Finding out how much happened after it was published happened via Wikipedia for me. I think I zipped through the last 100 pages pretty quickly, but as a whole I think the book was pretty unevenly paced. The non-baseball stuff was super unimportant to me; I couldn't care less about his social life or drinking buddies, and a lot of that felt wedged in.

I can't say that I learned a whole lot from the book, but it was entertaining. I might pick up one of his others one day, but I won't feel bad if I don't.

3DHouseofBeef
May 10, 2006



Given the mythologizing that an autobiography allows for, I'm surprised how frequently Veeck stays in line with history. At least, when it comes to things that could be easily verified (the Hornsby firing, Larry Doby, etc). I would have expected much more agrandisement, which may have ended up in the stories about his personal life.

If the book does fall down some, it is with those stories. I love to read nonfiction, but reading about someone's night life is just dull after awhile. I feel like I came for the baseball and got stuck with 100+ pages of drinking, travelling and Veeck's personal relationships. I understand that it is part of the man and the era, but those moments come off less as history and more as the old timer at the end of the bar trying to impress the kids with his "back in my day" stories.

All that being said, I liked the book and, ostensibly, Veeck.

Twin Cinema
Jun 1, 2006



Playoffs are no big deal,
don't have a crap attack.


I liked all of those stories, because this book really felt like having an oral conversation with Veeck, rather than reading about his stories in text.

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rickiep00h
Aug 16, 2010

BATDANCE



Twin Cinema posted:

I liked all of those stories, because this book really felt like having an oral conversation with Veeck, rather than reading about his stories in text.

The thing for me was that you could clearly get his voice through his baseball-related stories, too. I dunno. Like the other stuff just wasn't interesting. I got the strong feeling that he owed people explanations (for his divorce) or favors (for his buddies to show up in print). :shrug:

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