Mike Veeck, Baseball’s King of Fun, Reveals His Inspirational Teammate

Whenever I get a letter from a former Browns, Indians or White Sox player, they mention two Veecks: team owner Bill and his wife Mary Frances. Appreciating players and fans became a Veeck family affair.

I wrote to Mike Veeck, sharing this insight. I feel that the plaque in the Hall of Fame was earned by two people, not one. Did he find the same sources of inspiration in his leadership of the St. Paul Saints and three other minor league teams? Does his wife Libby offer the same support? Could you find Mike in the stands, just like his father?

Mike Veeck wrote:

Thank you for the kind note and the opportunity to talk about my favorite person…Libby. She collects art, and as a result, all of the decorations at Midway (and the other parks) have been influenced by her love of the visual. I even write commercials that are visibly different from my “pre-Lib” days. If she doesn’t laugh, we don’t use it.

I spend a lot of time in the stands and at the gate. If you make EVERY decision with the people who come to your parks’ best interest, you can’t go wrong. Fans know much more about your product than you do — or in this case, than I do.”

I believe in Mike Veeck. I think his upbeat philosophy, captured in the delightful book Fun is Good, could transform Major League Baseball and other stodgy, sluggish sectors of society.

Tomorrow: go beyond Disco Demolition, and find out any other White Sox highlights Veeck savors from working for his Dad.

Roy Sievers, St. Louis Cardinal?

Long before spring training, the Hot Stove League of my mind
battled the Iowa winter. Instead of forecasting baseball 2010,
I pondered several possibilities of seasons past.

One “what if?” that’s called to me has been the
case of Roy Sievers.

The five-time All-Star finished his career with 318 home runs and 1,147 RBI.

The 1949 American League Rookie of the Year, this St.
Louis native chose the Browns over the Cardinals.
Redbirds super-scout Walter Shannon knew how talented
Sievers was. Still, Sievers slipped away.

When he did, Sievers saw his career shaped by
owner Bill Veeck.

What did he remember about considering the Cardinals?
How did Veeck inspire him?

Sievers wrote:

“Walter Shannon was a close friend of mine — watching me play ball and he even managed our baseball team (American Legion). He came out to my house every week to get me to sign with the Cardinals. Back then, the Cardinals had a great ball club — a lot of them were just starting.

My dad and I thought it best to sign with the Browns, due to the fact I could make it to the big leagues faster. As it turned out, everything worked out alright. Playing with the Cardinals would have been great. They were a good club.

Bill Veeck was a great owner to play for. He saved my career with the things he did medical wise. Sent me to the best hospital and doctor in Baltimore, John Hopkins. Doctor wrote me up in the medical books as the best operation performed on a ballplayer. Ended up playing 17-1/2 years in the big leagues.

Bill and Mary Frances were always great people. He treated players great. He knew their values. he was a showman. People loved him. All the things he did were for the good of the game.”

Since 1949, one other person has focused on “the good of the game.” Whether with the Browns or the Cardinals, Roy Sievers seemed destined to be a local hero.

%d bloggers like this: