The Toney-Vaughan Double No-Hitter of May 2, 1917

Here is how the Chicago Tribune of May 3, 1917, described the previous day’s game at Weeghman Park (aka Wrigley Field), which the Reds won, 1-0, in the 10th inning by getting the game’s only two hits:

CUBS HITLESS AS TONEY WINS IN 10TH, 1 TO 0
Two Singles Off Vaughan with Error Score Tally for the Reds
RECORD!
Three thousand or more fans who saw the Cubs-Reds game yesterday
witnessed a contest that will stand as one of the most remarkable in history.
So far as can be learned, there never was a time in the major leagues when
two pitchers went nine innings without a hit being made on either side, as
did Jim Vaughan of the Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds.

By James Crusinberry

Fred Toney and Jim Vaughan both attempted to enter the baseball hall of
fame yesterday when the Cubs and Reds fought at Weeghman park, and the result was a pitching duel such as never before has been staged. When nine rounds had been played neither one of the stalwart hurlers had allowed a base hit, but in the tenth the break came, and it went against Vaughn. Two hits were registered with one error, and Cincinnati got a run. Toney went back in the last half and set three Cubs down in a row, thus winning the day and the honor of a no hit no run game.

Many times it has happened that a pitcher on one side has gained the honor of allowing no hits, but none of the old time fans can remember of seeing two
pitchers fight for nine innings and neither one allow a hit. There wasn’t even a
fluke which might have been called a hit in the first nine rounds. Vaughn passed two batsmen and one Cincinnati man got to first when Rollie Zeider fumbled an easy grounder.

TONEY GIVES TWO WALKS

Toney walked two batsmen, but those two were the only men to reach first base. He was given perfect support by his mates, not a bobble being made behind him. The duel was so desperate that when the ninth inning was over and the honors were even the crowd cheered both men.

Vaughn really was the more brilliant of the two pitchers for nine innings. Only
twenty-seven men faced him in that time, because each time he walked a man double plays occurred, clearing off the bases, and the one fellow who reached first on Zeider’s fumble was pegged out trying to steal. Vaughn also fanned ten men in the nine innings, while Toney fanned only three all told, and two of the three strikeouts occurred in the last of the tenth, when the big Tennessee man called upon all the reserve power in his right arm to make sure of the honor of a no hit game.

VAUGHAN’S SUPPORT FAILS HIM

It was a wonderful game for Toney to win and a tough one for Vaughn to lose.
Had Vaughn been given the keen support that Toney had the Cubs might have prolonged the battle, and possibly connected with Toney’s curves later on. But when the first hit was made in the tenth there was a general breakdown.

The first fellow to drive the ball to safe ground was Larry Kopf, the young
shortstop of the Reds. One was out in the tenth when he came up, and he hit a liner to right field. Fred Merkle made a desperate lunge to his right with one hand stretched out, and perhaps came within a foot of the ball, but it was out of reach, and the terrible suspense was broken.

WILLIAMS DROPS BALL

That blow shouldn’t have lost the ball game. Neale followed with a fly ball to
Williams, and then Chase hit a line fly right at Williams. Cy scarcely had to move, but if he had advanced two steps he could have taken it in front of his belt buckle. Instead, he had to catch it at his ankles, and he muffed the ball. Kopf was on third and Chase safe at first.

Jim Thorpe, the athletic red skin, then bounced one into the earth in front of
the plate. The ball rolled slowly toward third base, with Vaughn after it. It looked as if Vaughn figured he had lost a chance to get Thorpe at first base, and there seemed little hope of such a play, so in desperation he scooped the ball to Wilson standing on the plate, with Kopf tearing in. The ball hit Wilson on the shoulder about the same time that Kopf crashed into him, and the run was in.

Chase also tried to dash in when he saw the ball roll away, but Wilson recovered it in time to get Hal. There wasn’t any need of Hal’s run anyway, for one run was all that could be used.

Published in: Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 11:00 am  Comments (1)  

The Boise Daily Statesman on Walter Johnson in Mid-1907

This is a story from the Boise Daily Statesman of June 30, 1907, that I think I found in a book on Boise’s baseball history a few years ago, and scanned and put aside for quite a while. It said:

KID JOHNSON SMASHES WORLD’S RECORD FOR PITCHING
Weiser Twirler Chucks 75 Innings Without Score Made Against Him
HIS RECORD FOR THE SEASON TO DATE
Accepts Offer to Join Washington, D.C., American League Team But Remains with Weiser to End of State League Season

WEISER, June 29. The wonderful record of Walter Johnson, the Kids’ twirler, started last year when he was with Weiser in the state league and which Johnson continued with such remarkable success this year, has attracted the attention of ball players and managers all over the country and the offer of Joe Cantillion, manager of the Washington, D.C., American league team, is only one of many the phenomenal youth has received of late.

With his record of shut out games this season, Johnson has smashed to smithereens the world’s record for pitching. He has pitched 75 innings without a run having been made against him. The former record was 54 innings. Some may not consider this remarkable because of the fact that Johnson has not pitched against the big leaguers. This fact does not in any way make Johnson’s record less remarkable. No matter who is batting him the record would stand the same.

In the 75 innings 230 men faced Johnson. The complete record of Johnson for the entire season is as follows: He has struck out 166 batters; is credited with 18 base hits out of 37 times at bat, assisted 26 times and has 8 putouts to his credit. He has not made an error and only five runs have been made by his opponents. Twenty-five base hits have been made off his pitching during the season to date.

Walter Johnson was born at lola, Kan., and is 19 years of age. He is six feet and two-fifths of an inch in height in his stocking feet and weighs 180 pounds. His home is at Fullerton, Cal., where he attends school. His first ball playing away from home was with the Weiser team last season.

Johnson has frowned on a number of good offers received lately and unlike many young pitchers who, through their eagerness to get into the big leagues have spoiled bright prospects for a successful career, turned them all down, concluding that it would be better for him to get more of such experience as he is now getting before meeting the big hitters. But Joe Cantillion sent a man from Washington [D.C.] to persuade Johnson to go to the national capital and Johnson has decided to go and take a chance with the big fellows. He will probably not be pitched in a regular game this season, but will be carefully coached, it is likely, during the remainder of the season and put in the game next year.

Johnson will be with Weiser through the remainder of the Idaho State league’s
season, which closes July 14.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 30, 2014 at 5:44 am  Comments (1)  

How Do Players in Their 40s Do?

This post is a followup on the earlier look at the best MLB players in their teens. It looks at the best players from age 40 onward. Here, via Baseball-reference.com, is a list of the top 10 position players (except for pitcher Wilhelm) in career games played after turning 40.

1. Pete Rose 732
2. Cap Anson 677
3. Julio Franco 637
4. Sam Rice 543
5. Carlton Fisk 537
6. Omar Vizquel 525
7. Honus Wagner 503
8. Hoyt Wilhelm 494
9. Luke Appling 470
10. Rickey Henderson 469

The same list, for leaders in times on base after turning 40:
1. Cap Anson 1181
2. Pete Rose 1042
3. Luke Appling 780
4. Sam Rice 711
5. Rickey Henderson 691
6. Carlton Fisk 688
7. Honus Wagner 642
8. Carl Yastrzemski 620
9. Dave Winfield 587
10. Jim O’Rourke 582

The first list has seven Hall of Famers, the second list has nine.

And the top 10 in innings pitched for years 40 and after:
1. Phil Niekro 1977.0
2. Jamie Moyer 1551.3
3. Jack Quinn 1427.7
4. Charlie Hough 1346.3
5. Nolan Ryan 1271.7
6. Cy Young 1226.3
7. Warren Spahn 1163.0
8. Randy Johnson 1013.0
9. Tommy John 1000.7
10. Gaylord Perry 992.0

The top 10 in strikeouts after leaving the 30s behind:
1. Nolan Ryan 1437
2. Phil Niekro 1148
3. Randy Johnson 1004
4. Jamie Moyer 913
5. Roger Clemens 763
6. Charlie Hough 756
7. Hoyt Wilhelm 681
8. Gaylord Perry 533
9. Cy Young 519
10. Warren Spahn 503

The first list of pitchers has five Hall of Famers, the second has six. These lists have much better players than the lists of leaders in pre-20 stats: of course, if you want to play full time in your 40s, it’s a good idea to have established yourself as a markedly superior player. I think the only relatively late bloomers on the batting lists are Sam Rice and perhaps Julio Franco, while the late bloomers on the pitching lists are Moyer and Wilhelm.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 21, 2014 at 12:47 pm  Comments (2)  

A Couple Quotes on Hitting From Tony Gwynn

These are taken from George Will’s book, Men at Work. Among other things Tony said, here are two:

“I remember when they asked Pete Rose what do you think about Gwynn taking batting practice every day. He said, ‘he’ll learn, the more he plays the more he’ll realize he doesn’t need batting practice every day.’ Pete’s got more hits than anybody but I just don’t feel I’m prepared unless I’m doing what I can to be a little bit smarter, a little bit better, a little bit more prepared. I have been brought up in the game to do every little extra thing, get every bit of extra knowledge that can help you get a base hit in a key situation. I think my parents gave it to me.”

“Last year [1987], when I was going through bankruptcy and the team was in last place, people used to say, ‘How did you do it, hit .370?’ I said, playing was easy. That is how I got my relief, where I came to have fun.”

Published in: Uncategorized on June 17, 2014 at 8:54 am  Leave a Comment  

How Well Do Phenoms Turn Out?

I’ve heard it said that the best MLB players often make their mark at a very early age, in some cases before they turn 20. I thought I’d test that by looking at how the before-20 statistical leaders did in their careers. Here, via Baseball-reference.com, is a list of the top 10 position players in career games played before turning 20.

1. Phil Cavarretta 277
2. Robin Yount 254
3. Mel Ott 241
4. Ed Kranepool 208
5. Sibby Sisti 186
6. Al Kaline 168
7. Cass Michaels 158
8. Bob Kennedy 157
9. Freddie Lindstrom 156
10. Buddy Lewis 151

And a list of the top 10 for most times on base before turning 20:

1. Phil Cavarretta 360
2. Robin Yount 282
3. Mel Ott 277
4. Buddy Lewis 229
5. Ed Kranepool 218
6. Sibby Sisti 216
7. Bryce Harper 202
8. Bob Kennedy 197
9. George Davis 196
10. Ty Cobb 181

The first list has four Hall of Famers, the second list has three; we do not know what Bryce Harper will do.

As for pitchers, here is the top 10 list for most innings pitched in a career before age 20:

1. Monte Ward 921.0
2. Tommy Bond 849.0
3. Jim Britt 816.7
4. Larry McKeon 802.0
5. Willie McGill 801.3
6. Amos Rusie 773.7
7. Kid Carsey 732.7
8. Nat Hudson 634.3
9. Mike Smith 520.0
10. Bob Feller 488.3

And the same list, for most strikeouts before 20:

1. Bob Feller 466
2. Amos Rusie 450
3. Larry McKeon 425
4. Monte Ward 355
5. Willie McGill 345
6. Dwight Gooden 276
7. Kid Carsey 250
8. Egyptian Healy 245
Nat Hudson 245
10. Adonis Terry 230

Both lists are filled with pitchers from the 1800s whom few have heard of. In those years, it was pretty common for teams to have very young players, and it seems a lot of pitchers before 1900 had at most a few good years before blowing out an arm, switching positions, leaving baseball–or something else happened to make them stop being superb pitchers. I’m pretty sure both lists have three Hall of Famers. Although I don’t recognize all the players on the two batting lists, it’s clear that the batting phenoms have had better careers than the pitching phenoms.

Published in: Uncategorized on June 15, 2014 at 12:53 pm  Leave a Comment  

The 1964 Yankees Come to Richmond for an Exhibition Game

Ike Futch, who played in the Yankees’ minor league system as, primarily, a second baseman, from 1959 through 1964 (check his stats), recently left a comment on a post on this blog about Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle. When I wrote an email back to him, he told me about an exhibition game he had played for the Richmond Virginians (they were the Yankees’ AAA affiliate) at the end of 1964 spring training. Ike sent along files of the Richmond Times-Dispatch’s coverage of the game, played on Sunday, April 12, 1964, at Richmond’s Parker Field.

Here is some of the coverage; to begin, Ike sliding into second under Phil Linz’s tag to steal the base; he would score the winning run a couple minutes later on a Horace Clarke single.

linzfutch
The box score:
richmondbox
Part of the game account:
richmondlead
And a few game notes, featuring an item on Mickey Mantle and his health:
richmondmantle

I believe that of all the Richmond Virginians, Mel Stottlemyre, who pitched in this game, went on to have the best MLB career. Also, I have interviewed Ike Futch about his minor league career, especially his years in the Yankees organization.

Published in: on June 5, 2014 at 8:53 am  Comments (1)  
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Who Have Been the Best MLB Players in Their 20s?

Here is a look at some lists of the top 10 players before age 30 (not by advanced stats). Here, via Baseball-reference.com, is a list of the top 10 position players in career games played before turning 30.
1. Mel Ott 1739
2. Robin Yount 1671
3. Andruw Jones 1607
4. Edgar Renteria 1598
5. Al Kaline 1595
6. Alex Rodriguez 1592
7. Bill Mazeroski 1574
8. Adrian Beltre 1570
9. Vada Pinson 1565
10. Jimmie Foxx 1561

And the leaders in times on base before 30:
1. Mel Ott 3011
2. Jimmie Foxx 2846
3. Mickey Mantle 2839
4. Ty Cobb 2792
5. Alex Rodriguez 2729
6. Albert Pujols 2597
7. Miguel Cabrera 2553
8. Rogers Hornsby 2539
9. Ken Griffey Jr. 2536
10. Arky Vaughan 2527

The first list has five Hall of Famers, the second list has six.

The leaders in career innings pitched before 30:
1. Mickey Welch 4344.7
2. Pud Galvin 4132.7
3. Kid Nichols 3996.7
4. Jim McCormick 3953.3
5. Amos Rusie 3756.7
6. John Clarkson 3701.7
7. Tommy Bond 3628.7
8. Gus Weyhing 3526.3
9. Walter Johnson 3474.3
10. Christy Mathewson 3293.0

The leaders in strikeouts before 30:
1. Walter Johnson 2305
2. Sam McDowell 2281
3. Bert Blyleven 2250
4. Don Drysdale 2111
5. Nolan Ryan 2085
6. Sandy Koufax 2079
7. Bob Feller 2000
8. Christy Mathewson 1983
9. Pedro Martinez 1981
10. Amos Rusie 1944

The first list has seven Hall of Famers, the second list has eight. It’s no surprise to see all four lists filled with great players, but they also have some surprising names. I don’t think Renteria or Andruw Jones will be easily recognized by fans a few decades from now. And seeing so many 1800s pitchers on the innings pitched list is a reminder of how young and how hard-worked pitchers were in those decades.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 26, 2014 at 12:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

The DiMaggio Baseball Brothers and Money

Richard Ben Cramer’s Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life depicts DiMaggio, especially in the last 10 or 15 years of his life, as a man consumed by his desire to make money. This usually took the form of appearance fees at memorabilia shows and other events, and special autograph deals to sign a certain number of cards, bats, and balls for a given company. The Mr. Coffee and Bowery Savings Bank commercials of the ’70s and ’80s were replaced by a more direct effort by Joe to cash in on his legend.

You get the sense, reading Cramer’s book, that Joe’s uncompromising attitude toward money-getting it and keeping it and avoiding spending it-derived in some sense from his childhood. Father Giuseppi was, if we believe Cramer, a close-mouthed Sicilian, wary of outsiders, hesitant to take risks, pessimistic, and, given his nine children, always aware of the difficulty of making ends meet. (On this note: in his book, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, Fernand Braudel writes, “A double constraint has always been at the heart of Mediterranean history: poverty and uncertainty of the morrow. This is perhaps the cause of the carefulness, frugality, and industry of the people.”)

As Cramer describes it, when Vince leaves home to play baseball in Northern California and then in Arizona, Giuseppi can’t comprehend the value of playing the game, and considers Vince worthless. But, when Vince comes back from Arizona with $1500 cash, Giuseppi changes his mind about baseball.

Giuseppi’s attitude was apparently inherited by Joe and his brother Dominic, but in greatly amplified, savvier and much more ambitious form. There are a lot of places where you can read about Joe DiMaggio’s attitude toward money, but it’s worth noting that Dom was also very wealthy in his later life. A biography of Dom on the SABR site says:

Dominic found success after baseball, as well. In 1953, after he retired from baseball, he founded the American Latex Fiber Corporation along with two partners in Lawrence, Massachusetts. They produced padding for ammunitions packaging, boxcar insulation, and furniture and mattress padding. Dom later bought out his partners and began producing seat padding for the automotive industry. In 1961, he purchased a fire-ravaged company in Pennsylvania and merged the companies to form a new corporation: the Delaware Valley Corporation, and expanded production to include innovative products for the medical, construction, marine and RV industries. The company is still operated by a Dom DiMaggio, although now it is in the hands of eldest son Dominic, Jr.

After Red Sox owner Tom Yawkey died in 1976, DiMaggio headed a group of New England businessmen who put together an offer to purchase the Red Sox. The trust set up to handle the disposition of the ballclub rebuffed a number of offers, in which prospective applicants had invested considerable time and money, leaving a sense that the Haywood Sullivan group had had the inside track all along, resulting a sense of estrangement that lasted for a number of years.

Among other commercial ventures, Dom was involved in the operation of DiMaggio’s Restaurant on famed Fisherman’s Warf in San Francisco, and in real estate on both coasts. He was co-founder of the Boston Patriots football franchise, and he has actively supported numerous charities.

An obituary of Dom following his death in May 2009 added: “Later in his life, Dominic used another talent – as a lover of mathematics – to help him in a successful business career. “The stock market was his passion,” his son, Dominic Paul, told the Associated Press. “He’d watch the stock ticker all day and the Red Sox all night.”

A poster on the Red Sox fan site, Sons of Sam Horn, remembered one contact with Dom, writing:

I babysat for Dom’s grandson. His name is Andrew – he goes by DiMaggio Gates – and he’s going to be attending UVM this Fall for a PhD in politics.

Anyway, he was visiting his grandparents for a day. They lived somewhere down on the South Shore/Cape area. I can’t remember. One of you might know, actually. Anyway, Andrew gets done at his grandparents’ boat club, so we go back to their house. Dom is INCREDIBLY friendly – almost frighteningly so. He says Andrew’s mother has said a bunch of nice things about me, he asks me about college, stuff like that. At the time, he was set up with an ice tea in his living room watching CNBC or Bloomberg. He explained that he had made the vast majority of his money AFTER his playing days, and that he and some other players had taken after looking for older ballplayers who hadn’t saved for their later years. We talked about baseball and the stock market for fifteen or twenty minutes.

And, a recent article on the DiMaggio brothers says of Dom“His integrity was unquestioned, and he volunteered as the A.L. representative working on the players’ behalf before their union was formed. Dom was ahead of his time when he declared himself a free agent after his military service. The panicked Boston front office persuaded him to sign a contract before the 1946 season by giving him a percentage of the gate at Fenway Park, the same arrangement it had secretly made with Williams.

“After he retired, Dom became a successful textile manufacturer who gave a lot of time to raise millions of dollars for charities in the Boston area. Although smaller than Joe in stature and in the baseball record books, Dom cast quite a long shadow himself.”

In his book, Cramer describes Dom and Joe as being somewhat estranged for much of their lives, but along with the parallels between their financial lives, they also both lived in Florida. Dominic DiMaggio died on May 8, 2009, at the age of 92, at his home in Marion, Massachusetts, but he maintained a second home in Florida, where he wintered. Joe DiMaggio had died in Hollywood, Florida, on March 8, 1999, and spent a great deal of time in Florida and Southern California following the end of his baseball career.

And given that, it’s also worth noting that the oldest of the DiMaggio baseball brothers, Vince, died in North Hollywood, CA, of cancer of the colon, on October 3, 1986. All three brothers used baseball as a chance to move to warm, tourist settings and, in Vince and Joe’s case, to live among Hollywood celebrities. According to his L.A. Times obituary, Vince was a salesman in a variety of fields after his baseball career, and he had been married to wife Madeline for almost 54 years at the time of his death. In this, he was like Dom, who at his death had been married to wife Emily for 61 years, not like Joe.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 15, 2014 at 8:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Principal Owners of MLB’s 30 Teams and How They Got Their Fortunes

This list of the principal owners in MLB comes from Wikipedia, with two changes by me where Wikipedia was outdated:

Arizona Diamondbacks: Ken Kendrick
Atlanta Braves: Liberty Media
Baltimore Orioles: Peter Angelos
Boston Red Sox: John W. Henry
Chicago Cubs: Thomas S. Ricketts
Chicago White Sox: Jerry Reinsdorf
Cincinnati Reds: Robert Castellini
Cleveland Indians: Larry Dolan
Colorado Rockies: Charlie Monfort
Detroit Tigers: Mike Ilitch
Houston Astros: Jim Crane
Kansas City Royals: David Glass
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Arturo Moreno
Los Angeles Dodgers: Mark Walter
Miami Marlins: Jeffrey Loria
Milwaukee Brewers: Mark Attanasio
Minnesota Twins: Jim Pohlad
New York Mets: Fred Wilpon
New York Yankees: Hal Steinbrenner
Oakland Athletics: Lewis Wolff
Philadelphia Phillies: David Montgomery
Pittsburgh Pirates: Robert Nutting
San Diego Padres: Ron Fowler
San Francisco Giants: Charles Bartlett Johnson
Seattle Mariners: Nintendo
St. Louis Cardinals: William DeWitt, Jr.
Tampa Bay Rays: Stuart Sternberg
Texas Rangers: Bob R. Simpson and Ray Davis
Toronto Blue Jays: Rogers Communications
Washington Nationals: Lerner Enterprises

Here is a breakdown of how these owners made their fortunes:

Four in media/entertainment: Liberty Media, Rogers Communications, Robert Nutting, Nintendo

Six in finance, that is, Wall Street, bonds/stocks, and banking: John Henry, Thomas Ricketts, Mark Walter, Mark Attanasio, Charles Bartlett Johnson, Stuart Sternberg

Four in real estate: Jerry Reinsdorf, Fred Wilpon, Lewis Wolff, Lerner Enterprises

10 in business enterprises of one sort or another, frequently in several enterprises: Ken Kendrick, Robert Castellini, Charlie Monfort, Mike Ilitch, Jim Crane, David Glass, Arturo Moreno, Jeffrey Loria, William DeWitt, Jr., Bob R. Simpson and Ray Davis

3 in the law: Peter Angelos, Larry Dolan, Ron Fowler

2 inherited fortunes: Jim Pohlad, Hal Steinbrenner (Pohlad’s earned in banking and a variety of companies, Steinbrenner’s in shipbuilding and the growth of the Yankees)

1 from within baseball: David Montgomery, who began working for the Phillies in the early ’70s

The figures provided by Wikipedia show that 29 of the MLB franchises were bought for $7.63 billion, plus the $2 billion recently paid for the Dodgers, which makes a total of $9.63 billion paid for 30 franchises. Four of the 30 were bought before the ’90s.

There has been growing talk of the U.S. going through a second Gilded Age as the gap between the rich and everyone else gets bigger. In light of that, it’s worth noting the increasing prices paid for MLB franchises. The last somewhat normal person, financially speaking, that I remember with a majority stake in a franchise was Marge Schott, the Reds owner in the ’80s and ’90s.

Also, finance, real estate, and media/entertainment, which have emerged as three of the dominant U.S. industries in the past few decades, as the economy moves away from manufacturing and toward the service sector, account for 14 of the 30 ownerships in MLB. “Technology”-that is, the Internet, software, smart phones, social media, etc.-account for none of the 30.

Published in: Uncategorized on May 6, 2014 at 7:36 pm  Comments (2)  

Thoughts on Bill Veeck’s Death in 1986

Here are some reminisces of Bill Veeck from Atlanta Journal-Constitution columnist Dave Kindred and others in response to Veeck’s death at not quite 72, at the start of 1986. First Kindred:

To sit with Bill Veeck was to enjoy man at his fullest. He was bright and brave, laughing and conniving, in love with life. In the summer of 1977, when Veeck last ran the White Sox, he sat in the dim light of a ballpark saloon. . . .

“Baseball is the least changed thing in our society,” Veeck said in that saloon. He had a beer in hand, and another waited its turn. “In a confused and confusing world in which the underpinnings are less stable than shifting sand, baseball is an island of stability.”

By then, at 63, Veeck was deaf in one ear and wore a hearing aid in the other. Sometimes he spoke at a roar because he wanted to hear what he said; most times it was out of passion. He had no interest in being polite. He considered politeness an absence of passion. He smoked four packs a day, he drank a case of beer, he read both Shakespeare and sportswriters (“I am a dispos-all for the written word”) – and he worked at baseball with a passion alien to most men.

“These [other MLB owners] are not career baseball operators,” said Veeck, a lifer whose stiff-collared father ran the Cubs from 1917 to ’33. “These are successful businessmen from other fields who get into baseball for personal publicity, to buff and burnish their egos.”

Veeck’s off-center smile rearranged the folds and crevices of his sage’s wasted face. “Of course, no one at this table has an overwhelming desire to put a high sheen on his ego. Or on his wooden leg.”

“We lost a lot in losing Bill Veeck,” said Jimmy Gallios, an owner of Miller’s Pub, 23 W. Adams, and a friend of Veeck for 40 years. “It was something great to see him walking in. Every day was a great day with him. He was just a tiger of a man.

“He never got down about all the problems he had with his leg. No, no, no, no. As a matter of fact, he was an inspiration to a couple of customers we had who had lost a leg, always trying to get them off crutches. And joking, telling them, ‘Listen, maybe we should buy one pair of shoes together and save some money.’ “

Studs Terkel, who interviewed Veeck often on radio and for his book The American Dream said: “His life was not baseball alone. I think what he was searching for was delight.

“In talking about his scoreboard (it was Veeck who introduced the exploding scoreboard to baseball), he told me he was thinking of the scene in ‘The Time of Your Life,’ where the loser who always plays the pinball machine in the bar one day hits the jackpot and it explodes.

“That’s what he meant with his scoreboard. Even losers can have their day. There should be delight in the game.”

Larry Doby, whom Veeck signed with the Cleveland Indians in 1947 as the first black player in the American League, called Veeck’s death “a shock.”

“It was like losing a father,” he said. “I thought the world of him. I lost my father when I was eight and I adopted Mr. Veeck.

“What I remember best is his response to people. When I went to Cleveland to sign my contract, I was nervous when I walked into his office. I said, ‘Glad to meet you, Mr. Veeck.’ He said, ‘Call me Bill.’ He then called me Lawrence.”

“Players loved to play for him,” said [Lou] Boudreau. “He got credit as an entertainer, but his knowledge of the game was tremendous.

“He never came into the [Indians] clubhouse. But we had a meeting every morning. We’d talk things over and he wanted to know why you did certain things. He wanted you to argue with him. He wanted you to prove that you were right.

“Bill Veeck deserves credit for where baseball is today. Because when it was in a dull period, he brought it back.”

And some more quotes:
“(Veeck) was not one of, but the finest man that I ever met in the field of sports. Baseball will miss him without a question. I enjoyed being in baseball with him while he owned the White Sox and I owned the A’s and I learned very, very much from him. Bill did so much for the game, all I can say is I’ll miss him.”
–Former Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley

“(Veeck promised) he’d go eat crow at (the downtown intersection of) State and Lake if I could win the pennant with that team. The following year he went down to State and Lake and ate crow or pheasant or something. I don’t know if it was crow, but he ate something. He was a wonderful man but a wonderful baseball man as well. He will be missed.”
–Al Lopez, who managed the Sox to the 1959 pennant

“He loved the game of baseball but he never forgot . . . the game is for the fans. It’s not for you the manager, it’s not for the players to make money. He loved to talk about the game of baseball. He really had a complete understanding of it. He took a chance on me when a lot of other men wouldn’t. We stayed in touch through the years. He would always let me know if I wasn’t doing something right, but he never came down on the field and told me what to do.”
–White Sox manager Tony LaRussa

“He was the spirit of Chicago, powerful, a lot of gusto and verve and vigor, an emancipated man, who had a mission in life. That was to bring joy and happiness to people, an intellect, you know, in a sweatshirt.”
–Chicago Mayor Harold Washington

Published in: Uncategorized on April 26, 2014 at 10:41 am  Comments (1)  
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