Bill Veeck

William Louis Veeck Jr. (/ˈvɛk/; February 9, 1914 – January 2, 1986), also known as "Sport Shirt",[1] was an American Major League Baseball franchise owner and promoter. Veeck was at various times the owner of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox. As owner and team president of the Indians in 1947, Veeck signed Larry Doby, thus beginning the integration of the American League, and the following year won a World Series title as Cleveland's owner/president.

Veeck was the last owner to purchase a baseball franchise without an independent fortune, and is responsible for many innovations and contributions to baseball.[2]

Finding it hard to financially compete, Veeck retired after the 1980 Chicago White Sox season. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991.

Bill Veeck
Bill Veeck 1944
Veeck in 1944 as he recuperated from his World War II injuries.
Principal owner of the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, Chicago White Sox
Born: February 9, 1914
Chicago, Illinois
Died: January 2, 1986 (aged 71)
Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago, U.S.
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1991

Early life

Bill Veeck was born on February 9, 1914, in Chicago, Illinois. While Veeck was growing up in Hinsdale, Illinois, his father, William Veeck Sr., became president of the Chicago Cubs. Veeck Sr. was a local sports writer who wrote several columns about how he would have run the Cubs differently, and the team's owner, William Wrigley Jr., took him up on it. While growing up, the younger Veeck worked as a popcorn vendor for the Cubs. Later, in 1937, he came up with the idea of planting ivy on the walls of Wrigley Field.[3] Veeck attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. In 1933, when his father died, Veeck left Kenyon College and eventually became club treasurer for the Cubs. In 1935, he married his first wife, Eleanor.[4]

Franchise owner

Minor League Baseball

Milwaukee Brewers

In 1940, Veeck left Chicago and, in partnership with former Cubs star and manager Charlie Grimm, purchased the American Association Triple-A Milwaukee Brewers. After winning three pennants in five years Veeck sold his Milwaukee franchise in 1945 for a $275,000 profit.[5]

According to his autobiography Veeck – As in Wreck, Veeck claimed to have installed a screen to make the right field target a little more difficult for left-handed pull hitters of the opposing team. The screen was on wheels, so any given day it might be in place or not, depending on the batting strength of the opposing team. There was no rule against that activity as such, but Veeck then took it to an extreme, rolling it out when the opponents batted, and pulling it back when the Brewers batted. Veeck reported that the league passed a rule against it the very next day. However, extensive research by two members of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR) suggests that this story was made up by Veeck. The two researchers could not find any references to a moveable fence or any reference to the gear required for a moveable fence to work.[6]

While a co-owner of the Brewers, Veeck served for nearly three years in the United States Marine Corps during World War II in an artillery unit. During this time a recoiling artillery piece crushed his right leg, requiring amputation first of the foot, and shortly after of the leg above the knee. Over the course of his life he had 36 operations on the leg.[2] He had a series of wooden legs and, as an inveterate smoker, cut holes in them to use as an ashtray.

Major League Baseball

Philadelphia Phillies

Veeck had been a fan of the Negro Leagues since his early teens. He had also admired Abe Saperstein's Harlem Globetrotters basketball team, which was based in Chicago. Saperstein saved Veeck from financial disaster early on in Milwaukee by giving him the right to promote the Globetrotters in the upper Midwest in the winter of 1941–42.

In the fall of 1942, Veeck met with Gerry Nugent, president of the Philadelphia Phillies, to discuss the possibility of buying the struggling National League team. He later wrote in his memoirs that he intended to buy the Phillies and stock the team's roster with stars from the Negro Leagues. Although no formal rules barred African-American players from the majors, none had appeared in organized baseball since the 1890s.

Veeck quickly secured financing to buy the Phillies, and agreed in principle to buy the team from Nugent. While on his way to Philadelphia to close on the purchase, Veeck decided to alert MLB Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis of his intentions. Although Veeck knew Landis was an ardent segregationist, he did not believe Landis would dare say black players were unwelcome while blacks were fighting in World War II. However, when Veeck arrived in Philadelphia, he was surprised to discover that the National League had taken over the Phillies and was seeking a new owner (the Phillies were ultimately sold to lumber baron William D. Cox).

The authors of a controversial article in the 1998 issue of SABR's The National Pastime argued that Veeck invented the story of buying the Phillies and filling their roster with Negro leaguers, claiming Philadelphia's black press made no mention of a prospective sale to Veeck. Subsequently, the article was strongly challenged by historian Jules Tygiel, who refuted it point-by-point in an article in the 2006 issue of SABR's The Baseball Research Journal,[7] and in an appendix, entitled "Did Bill Veeck Lie About His Plan to Purchase the ’43 Phillies?", published in Paul Dickson's biography, Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick.[8] Joseph Thomas Moore wrote in his biography of Larry Doby, "Bill Veeck planned to buy the Philadelphia Phillies with the as yet unannounced intention of breaking that color line."[9]

Cleveland Indians

In 1946, Veeck became the owner of a major league team, the Cleveland Indians. He immediately put the team's games on radio. He also moved the team to Cleveland Municipal Stadium permanently in 1947. The team had split their games between the larger Municipal Stadium and the smaller League Park since the 1930s, but Veeck concluded that League Park was far too small and deteriorated to be viable.[10]

In July of that year he signed Larry Doby, the first black player to play in the American League.[11] Doby's first game was on July 5 and before the game, Doby was introduced to his teammates by player-manager Lou Boudreau. "One by one, Lou introduced me to each player. 'This is Joe Gordon,' and Gordon put his hand out. 'This is Bob Lemon,' and Lemon put his hand out. 'This is Jim Hegan,' and Hegan put his hand out. All the guys put their hand out, all but three. As soon as he could, Bill Veeck got rid of those three", Doby said.[12] The following year Veeck signed Satchel Paige to a contract, making the hurler the oldest rookie in major league history.[13][14]

As in Milwaukee, Veeck took a unique approach to promotions, hiring Max Patkin, the "Clown Prince of Baseball", as a coach. Patkin's appearance in the coaching box delighted fans and infuriated the front office of the American League.[15]

Although Veeck had become extremely popular, an attempt in 1947 to trade Boudreau to the St. Louis Browns led to mass protests and petitions supporting Boudreau. Veeck, in response, said he would listen to the fans, and re-signed Boudreau to a new two-year contract.[16]

By 1948, led by Boudreau's .355 batting average, Cleveland won its first pennant and World Series since 1920.[17] Famously, the following season Veeck buried the 1948 flag, once it became obvious the team could not repeat its championship in 1949. Later that year, Veeck's first wife divorced him. Most of his money was tied up in the Indians, so he was forced to sell the team to fund the divorce settlement.[18] One year later, Veeck married his second wife Mary Frances Ackerman in 1950. He had met her the previous year while in Cleveland.[19]

St. Louis Browns

After marrying Mary Frances Ackerman, Veeck bought an 80% stake in the St. Louis Browns in 1951.[20] Hoping to force the NL's St. Louis Cardinals out of town, Veeck hired Cardinal greats Rogers Hornsby and Marty Marion as managers, and Dizzy Dean as an announcer; and he decorated their shared home park, Sportsman's Park, exclusively with Browns memorabilia.[2] Ironically the Cardinals had been the Browns' tenants since 1920, even though they had long since passed the Browns as St. Louis' favorite team. Nonetheless, Veeck made a concerted effort to drive the Cardinals out of town.

Some of Veeck's most memorable publicity stunts occurred during his tenure with the Browns, including the appearance on August 19, 1951, by Eddie Gaedel, who stood 3 feet 7 inches tall and is the shortest person to appear in a Major League Baseball game. Veeck sent Gaedel to pinch hit in the bottom of the first of the game. Wearing "1/8" as his uniform number, Gaedel was walked on four straight pitches and then was pulled for a pinch runner.[21]

Shortly afterwards "Grandstand Manager's Day" – involving Veeck, Connie Mack, and thousands of regular fans, enabled the crowd to vote on various in-game strategic decisions by holding up placards: the Browns won, 5–3, snapping a four-game losing streak.[22]

After the 1952 season, Veeck suggested that the American League clubs share radio and television revenue with visiting clubs, a proposal anathema to the powerful Yankees, whose broadcasting revenues dwarfed all the other AL franchises.

Outvoted, he refused to allow the Browns' opponents to broadcast games played against his team on the road. The league responded by eliminating the lucrative Friday night games in St. Louis.

A year later, Cardinals owner Fred Saigh was convicted of tax evasion. Facing certain banishment from baseball, he was forced to put the Cardinals up for sale. Most of the bids came from out-of-town interests, and it appeared that Veeck would succeed in driving the Cardinals out of town.

However, just as Saigh was about to sell the Cardinals to interests who would have moved them to Houston, Texas, he instead accepted a much lower bid from St. Louis-based brewing giant Anheuser-Busch, who entered the picture with the specific intent of keeping the Cardinals in town.[23]

Veeck quickly realized that with Anheuser-Busch's wealth behind them, the Cardinals now had more financial resources than he could even begin to match, especially since he had no other source of income. Reluctantly, he decided to cede St. Louis to the Cardinals and move the Browns elsewhere. As a preliminary step, he sold Sportsman's Park to the Cardinals.[24]

At first Veeck considered moving the Browns back to Milwaukee (where they had played their inaugural season in 1901). Milwaukee used recently-built Milwaukee County Stadium in an attempt to entice the Browns.

However, the decision was in the hands of the Boston Braves, the parent team of the Brewers. Under major league rules of the time, the Braves held the major league rights to Milwaukee. The Braves wanted another team with the same talent if the Brewers were shut down, and an agreement was not made in time for the start of the 1953 season. Ironically, a few weeks later, the Braves themselves moved to Milwaukee.[25] St. Louis was known to want the team to stay, so some in St. Louis campaigned for the removal of Veeck.[26]

Undaunted, Veeck got in touch with a group that was looking to bring a Major League franchise to Baltimore, Maryland. After the 1953 season, Veeck agreed in principle to sell half his stock to Baltimore attorney Clarence Miles, the front man of the Baltimore group, and his other partners. He would have remained the principal owner, with approximately a 40% interest. Even though league president Will Harridge told him approval was certain, only four owners—two short of the necessary six for passage—supported it. Realizing the other owners simply wanted him out of the picture (indeed, he was facing threats of having his franchise canceled), Veeck agreed to sell his entire stake to Miles' group, who then moved the Browns to Baltimore, where they were renamed as the Orioles, which has been their name ever since.[27]

Chicago White Sox

In 1959, Veeck became head of a group that purchased a controlling interest in the Chicago White Sox, who went on to win their first pennant in 40 years.[28][29] That year the White Sox broke a team attendance record for home games with 1.4 million. The next year the team broke the same record with 1.6 million visitors to Comiskey Park with the addition of the first "exploding scoreboard" in the major leagues – producing electrical and sound effects, and shooting fireworks whenever the White Sox hit a home run, and also began adding players' surnames on the back of their uniform, a practice now standard by 25 of 30 clubs on all jerseys, and by three more clubs on road jerseys.[2] The "exploding scoreboard" itself was carried over to the "new" Comiskey Park (now Guaranteed Rate Field) when it opened in 1991.

One year later in 1960, Veeck and former Detroit Tigers great Hank Greenberg, his partner with the Indians and White Sox, reportedly made a strong bid for the American League expansion franchise in Los Angeles. Greenberg would have been the principal owner, with Veeck as a minority partner.[30] However Los Angeles Dodgers owner Walter O'Malley was not willing to compete with a team owned by Veeck, even if he would only be a minority partner. When O'Malley heard of the deal, he invoked his exclusive franchise rights for Southern California. Any potential owner of an American League team in the area would have had to have O'Malley's blessing, and it was apparent that O'Malley would not allow any team to set up shop with Veeck as a major shareholder. Rather than try to persuade his friend to back out, Greenberg abandoned his bid for what became the Los Angeles Angels.[30]

Jim McKay Bill Veeck Wide World of Sports 1964
Veeck being interviewed by Jim McKay for Wide World of Sports in 1964.

In 1961, due to poor health, Veeck sold his share of the team to John and Arthur Allyn for $2.5 million.[31] After selling the White Sox, Veeck spent a short time working as a television commentator.[32]

When his health improved, Veeck made an unsuccessful attempt to buy the Washington Senators, then operated the Suffolk Downs race track in Boston in 1969–70. Veeck was not heard from again in baseball circles until 1975, when he repurchased the White Sox from John Allyn (sole owner since 1969).[2] Veeck's return rankled baseball's owner establishment, most of the old guard viewing him as a pariah after exposing most of his peers in his 1961 book Veeck As In Wreck. However, he was the only potential buyer willing to keep the White Sox in Chicago after an offer was made to buy the team and move it to Seattle, Washington.

Almost immediately after taking control of the Sox for a second time Veeck unleashed another publicity stunt designed to irritate his fellow owners. He and general manager Roland Hemond conducted four trades in a hotel lobby, in full view of the public. Two weeks later, however, arbitrator Peter Seitz's ruling struck down the reserve clause and ushered in the era of free agency, leading to dramatic increases in player salaries.

Veeck's power as an owner began to wane relative to richer owners. Ironically Veeck had been the only baseball owner to testify in support of Curt Flood during his famous court case, at which Flood had attempted to gain free agency after being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.[2]

Veeck presented a Bicentennial-themed "Spirit of '76" parade on Opening Day in 1976, casting himself as the peg-legged fifer bringing up the rear.[2] In the same year he reactivated Minnie Miñoso for eight at-bats, in order to give Miñoso a claim towards playing in four decades; he did so again in 1980, to expand the claim to five.[33] He also unveiled radically altered uniforms for the players, including clamdigger pants and even shorts, which the Sox wore for the first time against the Kansas City Royals on August 8, 1976.

In an attempt to adapt to free agency he developed a "rent-a-player" model, centering on the acquisition of other clubs' stars in their option years. The gambit was moderately successful: in 1977 the White Sox won 90 games, and finished in third place with additions like Oscar Gamble and Richie Zisk.[34]

During this last run, Veeck decided to have announcer Harry Caray sing "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" during the seventh-inning stretch. Veeck asked Caray to sing for the entire park, but he refused. Veeck replied that he already had a recording, so Caray would be heard either way. Caray reluctantly agreed to sing it live, accompanied by White Sox organist Nancy Faust, and went on to become famous for singing the tune, continuing to do so at Wrigley Field after becoming the broadcaster of the Chicago Cubs.[35]

The 1979 season was filled with more promotions. On April 10 he offered fans free admission the day after a 10–2 Opening Day defeat by the Toronto Blue Jays. On July 12, Veeck, with assistance from son Mike and radio personality Steve Dahl, held one of his most infamous promotions, Disco Demolition Night, between games of a scheduled doubleheader, which resulted in a riot at Comiskey Park and a forfeit to the visiting Detroit Tigers.[36]

Life after baseball

Finding himself no longer able to financially compete in the free agent era, Veeck sold the White Sox in January 1981. He retired to his home in Chicago.

Poor health/death

Veeck had been a heavy smoker and drinker until 1980. In 1984 Veeck underwent two operations for lung cancer.[5] Two years later, in 1986, he died at the age of 71 from cancer.[2] He was elected five years later to the Baseball Hall of Fame.[37]

When he died at age 71, he was survived by his wife, Mary Frances, and eight children. Two of his children, Peter and Ellen, were from his first marriage, and the others (Mike, Marya, Greg, Lisa, Julie and Chris) were from his second marriage.[38] Mike Veeck became owner of the independent minor-league St. Paul Saints and still is a partner in the team. The younger Veeck and co-owner actor Bill Murray emulated many of Bill Veeck's promotional stunts with the Saints.

Books by Veeck

Veeck wrote three autobiographical works, each a collaboration with journalist Ed Linn. The first two were reissued in updated editions in the 1980s following Veeck's return to ownership. The books include:

  • Veeck As In Wreck (1962) – a straightforward autobiography
  • The Hustler's Handbook (1965) – divulging his experiences in operating as an outsider in major leagues
  • Thirty Tons A Day (1972) – chronicling the time he spent running Suffolk Downs racetrack in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The title refers to the daily quantity of waste (horse excrement, used hay and straw, etc.) that had to be disposed of.

Awards and honors

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Acocella, Nick (August 20, 2010). "Baseball's Showman". espn.com. Retrieved November 29, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Acocella, Nick. "Baseball's Showman". espn.com. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  3. ^ Brewster, Mike (October 27, 2004). "Bill Veeck: A Baseball Mastermind". Bloomberg Businessweek. Archived from the original on September 12, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  4. ^ Furlong, William (1960). "Master Of The Joyful Illusion". Sports Illustrated. SportsIllustrated.CNN.com: 58–64. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
  5. ^ a b "Bill Veeck". baseballlibrary.com. Archived from the original on August 13, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  6. ^ Lowry, Phillip (2005). Green Cathedrals. New York City: Walker & Company. ISBN 0-8027-1562-1.
  7. ^ Revisiting Bill Veeck and the 1943 Phillies, The National Pastime, 2006 issue, page 109. Retrieved May 12, 2012.
  8. ^ Dickson, Paul (2012). Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick. New York: Walker & Company. ISBN 978-0-8027-1778-8.
  9. ^ Moore, Joseph Thomas (1988). Pride Against Prejudice: The Biography of Larry Doby. New York: Praeger Publishers. p. 19. ISBN 0275929841.
  10. ^ "Cleveland Municipal Stadium". ballparks.com. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  11. ^ "Larry Doby". Negro League Baseball Players Association. Archived from the original on June 12, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  12. ^ Anderson, Dave (March 29, 1987). "Has Baseball Forgotten Larry Doby?". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2012.
  13. ^ "Satchel Paige". Negro League Baseball Players Association. Archived from the original on August 5, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  14. ^ Roberts, M.B. "Paige never looked back". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  15. ^ Goldstein, Richard (November 1, 1999). "Max Patkin, 79, Clown Prince of Baseball". The New York Times. Retrieved July 30, 2010.
  16. ^ Schneider, pp. 329.
  17. ^ "1948 World Series". mlb.com. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  18. ^ "Bill Veeck". Ohio History Central. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  19. ^ "Ice Capades Press Agent Weds Colorful Bill Veeck". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. May 1, 1950. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  20. ^ "St. Louis Browns". baseballlibrary.com. Archived from the original on October 5, 2010. Retrieved August 25, 2010.
  21. ^ "Eddie Gaedel". baseballlibrary.com. Archived from the original on June 11, 2011. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  22. ^ Macgranachan, Brendan (February 27, 2009). "Grandstand Managers Day". seamheads.com. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  23. ^ Goldstein, Richard (January 2, 2000). "Fred Saigh, Who Helped Cardinals Stay Put, Dies at 94". The New York Times. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  24. ^ "Sportsman's Park". ballparks.com. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  25. ^ "Milwaukee's loss is Baltimore's gain". todayinbaseball.com. Archived from the original on May 10, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  26. ^ "St. Louis Leaders Gunning for Removal of Bill Veeck". The Milwaukee Sentinel. March 17, 1953. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  27. ^ Omoth, p. 9.
  28. ^ "Bill Veeck To Buy White Sox". Ocala Star-Banner. February 8, 1959. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  29. ^ "This Month In Baseball History...March", Baseball Digest, p. 99, March 1989, retrieved August 2, 2010
  30. ^ a b Acocella, Nick. "The first "Hammerin' Hank"". espn.com. Archived from the original on November 5, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  31. ^ "Veeck, Greenberg Sell Interest". Tri City Herald. June 9, 1961. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  32. ^ "Commentator Bill Veeck Lashes 'Rabbit Fever' In Baseball- Again". St. Petersburg Times. May 23, 1964. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  33. ^ "Minnie Minoso". Baseballlibrary.com. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  34. ^ Ballantini, Brett (April 18, 2007). "Looking Back: The 1977 White Sox". MLB.com. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  35. ^ Drehs, Wayne (July 8, 2008). "Thank Caray, Chicago for popularity of 'Take Me Out to the Ballgame'". ESPN.com. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  36. ^ Behrens, Andy (July 12, 2009). "Disco demolition:Bell-bottoms be gone!". espn.com. Archived from the original on May 4, 2010. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  37. ^ "Bill Veeck". baseballhall.org. Retrieved August 2, 2010.
  38. ^ Holtzman, Jerome (January 3, 1986). "Baseball`s Bill Veeck Dies At 71". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 2, 2010.

References

  • Tyler Omoth (2007). Story of the Baltimore Orioles. Mankato, Minnesota: Creative Education. ISBN 1-58341-480-0.
  • Russell Schneider (2004). The Cleveland Indians Encyclopedia. Champaign, Illinois: Sports Reference LLC. ISBN 1-58261-840-2.
  • Bill Veeck with Ed Linn (1962). Veeck as in Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck. Chicago, Illinois: The University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-85218-0.
  • Paul Dickson (2012). Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick. New York: Walker & Company. ISBN 978-0-8027-1778-8.

External links

1946 Cleveland Indians season

In 1946, Bill Veeck finally became the owner of a major league team, the Cleveland Indians. He immediately put the team's games on radio, and set about to put his own indelible stamp on the franchise. Actor Bob Hope also acquired a minority share of the Indians.

1947 Cleveland Indians season

The 1947 Cleveland Indians season was the 47th in franchise history. On July 5, Larry Doby broke the American League color barrier. Doby was signed by the Indians by owner and team president Bill Veeck in July, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson appeared with the Brooklyn Dodgers in the National League. In his rookie season, Doby hit 5-for-32 in 29 games.

1951 St. Louis Browns season

The 1951 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 52 wins, and 102 losses.

1952 St. Louis Browns season

The 1952 St. Louis Browns season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Browns finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 64 wins and 90 losses. This was the franchise's penultimate season in St. Louis.

1953 St. Louis Cardinals season

The 1953 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 72nd season in St. Louis, Missouri and the 62nd season in the National League. The Cardinals went 83–71 during the season and finished 3rd in the National League.

Prior to the start of the season, August A. Busch, Jr. of Anheuser-Busch bought the team from Fred Saigh. That started a reign that would last until March, 1996, when William DeWitt, Jr., Drew Baur and Fred Hanser bought the club. Realizing the Cardinals now had more resources than he could possibly match, Bill Veeck, owner of the St. Louis Browns decided to search for another city to which to move the Browns. As a first step, he sold Sportsman's Park to the Cardinals. He would have probably had to sell the park in any case; the park had fallen into disrepair over the years, and the city had threatened to have it condemned. With the Browns' declining revenues – despite collecting rent from the Cardinals – Veeck could not afford to bring it up to code. Busch heavily renovated the 44-year-old park and renamed it Busch Stadium. Within a year, Veeck also sold the Browns to Jerold Hoffberger and Clarence Miles, and the new owners moved them to Baltimore as the Orioles.

1980 Chicago White Sox season

The 1980 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 80th season in Major League Baseball, and its 81st season overall. They finished with a record of 70-90, good enough for 5th place in the American League West, 26 games behind the first-place Kansas City Royals.

In 1979 and 1980, Bill Veeck made overtures to Denver interests. An agreement was reached to sell to Edward J. DeBartolo, Sr., who pledged to keep the club in Chicago. His offer was turned down by the owners. Veeck was forced to sell to a different investment group.

1991 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1991 followed the system in place since 1978.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and elected three, Rod Carew, Ferguson Jenkins, and Gaylord Perry.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider older major league players as well as managers, umpires, executives, and figures from the Negro Leagues.

It selected two, Tony Lazzeri and Bill Veeck.

Arthur Allyn Jr.

Arthur Allyn Jr. (December 24, 1913 in Chicago, Illinois – March 22, 1985 in Sarasota, Florida) was the co-owner of the Chicago White Sox of the American League with his brother John Allyn from 1961 through 1969. A few years after purchasing the franchise from Bill Veeck, Allyn tried to sell the team to a number of different parties, including Lamar Hunt and Bud Selig (who planned to move the team to Milwaukee, Wisconsin), before selling his share of the White Sox to his co-owner and brother John. Allyn also owned Chicago Mustangs soccer club that were charter members of the United Soccer Association in 1967. The Mustangs became part of the newly formed North American Soccer League the following year after merging with the NPSL.

Baseball color line

The color line, also known as the color barrier, in American baseball excluded players of black African descent from Major League Baseball and its affiliated Minor Leagues until 1947 (with a few notable exceptions in the 19th century before the line was firmly established). Racial segregation in professional baseball was sometimes called a gentlemen's agreement, meaning a tacit understanding, as there was no written policy at the highest level of organized baseball, the major leagues. But a high minor league's vote in 1887 against allowing new contracts with black players within its league sent a powerful signal that eventually led to the disappearance of blacks from the sport's other minor leagues later that century, including the low minors.

After the line was in virtually full effect in the early 20th century, many black baseball clubs were established, especially during the 1920s to 1940s when there were several Negro Leagues. During this period some light-skinned Hispanic players (e.g. Lefty Gomez), Native Americans, and native Hawaiians (e.g. Prince Oana) were able to play in the Major Leagues.The color line was broken for good when Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers organization for the 1946 season. In 1947, both Robinson in the National League and Larry Doby with the American League's Cleveland Indians appeared in games for their teams. By the late 1950s, the percentage of black players on Major League teams matched or exceeded that of the general population.

Borchert Field

Borchert Field was a baseball park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. The home field for several professional baseball clubs from 1888 through 1952, it became obsolete after the construction of County Stadium in 1953 and was demolished later that year. The site is now covered by Interstate 43.The park was built on a rectangular block bounded by North 7th, 8th, Chambers, and Burleigh Streets. Home plate was at the south end (Chambers), with the outfield bounded by the outer fence, making fair territory home-plate-shaped, with short fields in left and right and very deep power alleys, a configuration used by a number of ballparks of the era that were constrained by a narrow block.

The playing field's approximate elevation was 690 feet (210 m) above sea level.

Dorothy Comiskey Rigney

Dorothy Elizabeth Comiskey Rigney (December 26, 1916 – January 22, 1971) was an American businesswoman who owned the Chicago White Sox of the American League from 1956 through 1958. She is one of the few women to have served as principal owner of a Major League Baseball team.

Rigney was born in Chicago to John Louis Comiskey (1885–1939) and Grace Elizabeth Reidy (1894–1956)). She was the eldest grandchild of Charles Comiskey, and inherited control of the White Sox upon the death of her mother. In 1941, she married former White Sox pitcher and executive Johnny Rigney.For most of her tenure as owner, Dorothy was in a running battle for control of the team with her younger brother, Chuck, who was the team's second-largest stockholder. When Dorothy put the team on the market after the 1958 season, she initially wanted to sell her 54% stake to her brother. However, Chuck made such a lowball offer that Dorothy instead sold the White Sox to Bill Veeck, ending the Comiskey family's 58-year control of the franchise.Dorothy Rigney also owned and raced Thoroughbred horses. One of her most successful runners was multiple stakes race winner, Fast Hilarious whose wins included the 1969 American Derby and the 1971 Gulfstream Park Handicap.She died at a Maywood, Illinois hospital in 1971 at the age of 54.

Eddie Gaedel

Edward Carl Gaedel (June 8, 1925 – June 18, 1961) was an American and the smallest player to appear in a Major League Baseball game. Gaedel (some sources say the family name may actually have been Gaedele, which is the name seen on his gravestone) gained recognition in the second game of a St. Louis Browns doubleheader on August 19, 1951. Weighing 65 pounds (29 kg) and standing 3 feet 7 inches (1.09 m) tall, he became the shortest player in the history of the Major Leagues. Gaedel made a single plate appearance and was walked with four consecutive balls before being replaced by a pinch-runner at first base. His jersey, bearing the uniform number "​1⁄8", is displayed in the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum.

St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck, in his 1962 autobiography Veeck – As in Wreck, said of Gaedel, "He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball. He was also the only one."

Ellis Ryan

Ellis W. Ryan (June 7, 1904 – August 11, 1966) was the principal owner of the Cleveland Indians of the American League from 1949 through 1952. He was born in Cleveland. A group headed by Ryan purchased the Indians from Bill Veeck. In 1952, Ryan sold his share of the franchise to Myron H. Wilson.

Following the sale of the Indians, Mr. Ryan was one of a group that purchased the Cleveland Browns in 1953. That group sold the Browns to Art Modell in 1961.

Mr. Ryan was an insurance executive in Cleveland. His insurance agency was located in the same building as the Cleveland Arena. At one time, he was a part owner of the Cleveland Arena and the Cleveland Barons minor league hockey team (AHL).

He died in 1966 at the age of 62 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. His body was returned to Cleveland, and he was buried at Knollwood Cemetery in Mayfield Heights, Ohio.

Gerald Nugent

Gerald Paul Nugent, Sr. was the owner of the Philadelphia Phillies baseball team of the National League from 1931 through 1942.

A leather goods and shoe merchant, Nugent married longtime Phillies secretary Mae Mallen in 1925. Longtime Phillies owner William Baker died in 1930, leaving half of his estate to Mallen and half to his wife. With the support of Baker's widow, Nugent became team president. Baker's widow died in 1932, leaving Nugent in full control.

Unlike Baker, Nugent cared more about winning than saving money. However, even with his income from his other businesses, he didn't have the financial means to get the Phillies out of the National League basement. He was forced to trade what little talent the team had to make ends meet and had to use some creative financial methods to be able even to field a team at all. The one highlight of his ownership was a 78-76 record in 1932, the only time that the Phillies finished with a winning record between 1918 and 1948.

One notable step Nugent took, in mid-season 1938, was to abandon Baker Bowl, the club's 52 year old home which had become severely run down. The Phillies moved five blocks west to become tenants at Shibe Park, home of the Athletics.

Nugent finally reached the end of his rope in 1942. A year after posting a 43-111 record, the worst in franchise history, the Phillies needed an advance from the league just to be able to take part in spring training. Realizing that there was no way he could operate the team in 1943, he reached an agreement in principle that February to sell the team to Bill Veeck, who planned to bring in Negro League stars in an effort to turn the moribund franchise around. However, when Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis, an intractable opponent of integration, got wind of it, he pressured National League President Ford Frick to quash the deal and take over the team. A week later, the league sold the Phillies to lumber broker William D. Cox.

This story was initially refuted by a 1998 article in the Society for American Baseball Research's The National Pastime, which argued that Philadelphia's black press made no mention of a sale to Veeck. However, new evidence has surfaced that suggested Nugent did indeed plan to sell the Phillies to Veeck.

John Allyn

John Allyn (born May 17, 1917 in Chicago, Illinois - died April 29, 1979 in Winnetka, Illinois) was the co-owner of the Chicago White Sox of the American League with his brother Arthur Allyn, Jr. from 1961 through 1969, and sole principal owner from 1969 through 1975. In addition, John Allyn served as president of the Chicago Mustangs soccer team which he co-owned with his brother, Arthur. In 1975, Allyn sold the club back to the person he and his brother had purchased it from in 1961, Bill Veeck.

Milwaukee Brewers (American Association)

The Milwaukee Brewers were a Minor League Baseball team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. They played in the American Association from 1902 through 1952. The 1944 and 1952 Brewers were recognized as being among the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.

The Kid from Cleveland

The Kid from Cleveland is a 1949 sports drama film starring George Brent, Lynn Bari and Russ Tamblyn. Directed by Herbert Kline, the film was released by Republic Pictures.

The Kid from Cleveland tells the story of a "troubled teenaged fan" being helped by his favorite baseball team – the Cleveland Indians. The Indians had just won the 1948 World Series and many of the team's players made appearances along with owner Bill Veeck, co-owner and former Major League Baseball star Hank Greenberg, and then current coach and Baseball Hall-of-Famer Tris Speaker. Also featured were the team's then current and former ballparks, Cleveland Municipal Stadium and League Park. Several Cleveland Indians and Boston Braves players also appear in the film in archive baseball footage segments from the 1948 World Series.

William Veeck Sr.

William Louis Veeck Sr. (January 20, 1876 – October 5, 1933) was an American sportswriter and baseball executive. He was president of the Chicago Cubs from 1919 to his death in October, 1933. Under Veeck's leadership, the Cubs won two pennants, in 1929, and 1932.

Veeck was a sportswriter for the Chicago American in 1917 when Cubs owner William Wrigley Jr. hired him to be vice-president of the baseball club. Having won the National League pennant in 1918, Wrigley promoted him to president of the club in July, 1919. Veeck was also the father of Bill Veeck, who is best known for his time at the reins of the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Indians, and for sending the midget Eddie Gaedel to bat while owning the St. Louis Browns.

Veeck resided in the Chicago suburb of Hinsdale, Illinois. He married Grace Greenwood DeForest in 1900, who died in 1964. They had three children: Maurice, who died at age 8; Margaret Ann Veeck Krehbiel, and William Louis Veeck Jr., also known as Bill Veeck.

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