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Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick

4.24  ·  Rating details ·  279 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
Relying on primary sources, including more than a hundred interviews, Paul Dickson has crafted a....
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published April 24th 2012 by Walker Books (first published March 27th 2012)
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May 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
In opening his 1962 autobiography, Veeck—as in Wreck, with a chapter on midget Eddie Gaedel, longtime baseball owner and showman Bill Veeck concedes straight off that sending the pint-size actor to the plate as a St. Louis Brown would go down as his legacy.

"I have done a few other things in baseball, you know," Veeck writes. "I've won pennants and finished dead last; I've set attendance records and been close to bankruptcy . . . But no one has to tell me that if I returned to baseball tomorrow,
Mar 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Note: This book is based on a galley copy that I received via The final draft of the book will be released on April 24th.

If you take a trip to a major league ball park today or if you grab a schedule and look at the various "nights" that feature freebes for the kids or any fan, or if you listen to the game on the radio (or these days, on an iPad you might be using now to read this review); or if you are grateful for the fact that men like Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson
Dave DiGrazie
Aug 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Baseball lovers should have this book as part of their reference library. Paul Dickson shows how Bill Veeck's life touched so many others, including some of the biggest luminaries who played, managed, and ran the game over nearly five decades. If a maverick is a principled person who is unafraid to stand by their principles even when it means standing well outside conventional or even accepted thought, then Bill Veeck was certainly one of baseball's greatest mavericks over the years. Dickson tre ...more
Austin Gisriel
Paul Dickson's biography of Bill Veeck was moving in two ways. It "moved" along swiftly, a testament to Dickson's ability to expertly sift through thousands of stories, interview nuggets, and anecdotes, and weave them into the perfect biographical tapestry. Bill Veeck himself, was a moving subject. Without trying to sound self-serving, Veeck reminded me very much of Boots Poffenberger, the former Tiger pitcher who was the subject of my biography. Both were so comfortable being themselves that ot ...more
Oct 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Informative book. gets a bit bogged down in the first third or so with too many names and details that are hard to keep straight, and seem not to contribute to the story. The personal anecdotes and stories of the stunts he pulled had me laughing out loud at times.
Dani Shuping
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
ARC provided by NetGalley

Bill Veeck. For baseball fans the name draws to mind instantly the ill fated Disco Night and Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player to ever bat in a MLB game. But there is so much more to the story and a debt that baseball fans the world over owe to Bill Veeck. He was so much more than baseball. He was an innovator, a free spirit, and an advocate for racial equality in a time when many baseball owners wanted nothing to do with it.

Relying on primary documents and more than a 1
Chip Rickard
Feb 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This was a fabulous book from beginning to end. It gave an objective portrait of a man who had a tremendous impact on not only the sport but on society as well.

I liked what he wrote about Veeck, Sr. It was probably the most I've read about him even from his son's books.

I thought the part about Veeck's leg injury during the war was quite in depth and raised and answered the question on how he actually received the injury.

Dickson did not sugarcoat how Veeck treated his first family. it seems to
Mickey Mantle
Mar 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I enjoyed the book immensely. I met the man a few times when he was running the White Sox on his second go around. The book captures the man as I knew him.
What the book captures is the great intellect of Bill Veeck. It also captures what a people person he was. The man had time for everybody. I do not believe he had the ability to BIG TIME anyone.
The baseball operations he ran were on a shoestring. The obvious fact that he was a lot brighter than his fellow owners comes through page after page.
Maurice J
Aug 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book, the best biography of Veeck yet. He is a personal hero of mine because of what he did for baseball fans and players. The owners and their underling commissioners despised Veeck because he loved the game and made it fun. He also treated his players with respect.

Unlike Branch Rickey who signed Jackie Robinson without purchasing Robinson's contract from the owner of the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs, Veeck bought the contract for Larry Doby, the first African-American in th
Aug 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
Bill Veeck was a rarity among baseball owners. He espoused liberal politics, opposed the reserve clause, answered phone calls directly from fans, and generally thumbed his nose at the baseball establishment, sending midgets to bat, and generally being a pain in the ass toward the New York Yankees. For someone who lived not that long ago (passing away in 1985), historians already are trying to discern what is true and what is legendary about his life.

Paul Dickson, a prolific author, has tried to
Linda Nichols
Sep 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Hmmm -- I think, if I'm ever asked again what person, living or dead, I would most like to meet, this guy may be the one. He sounds like a fun guy to be with, and intelligent, too. The description reminds me of my husband, a guy who can converse on any subject. He read voraciously, 50 books at a time, 6-12 pages from each, then on to another book. I can't do that; I read one at a time. And his love of baseball is probably unsurpassed by anyone. In WWII, he went to war as a private in the Marines ...more
Nov 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who appreciates greatness of spirit
At Bill Veeck's induction ceremony in 1991 his widow, Mary Frances Veeck, delivered the following speech: "Life was not wasted on Bill Veeck. He was born with a great joy of living, tremendous energy, integrity. He was curious, imaginative, creative, spontaneous, stubborn, intelligent, opinionated, witty. He was such fun to be around, a pied piper. He was magic. He was a 'pro'! All of these things made him the baseball man we remember today."
From 1947 through 1964, a span of 18 years, the Yankee
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Found this to be an important read about the backroom boiler operations of Baseball. Veeck was certainly a maverick in the baseball world and appeared to be a sincere human being while at the same time being a brilliant business person. These characteristics are difficult to infuse in one personality in the same lifetime.

The appreciated comment on this book is that there were a lot of statistics and stories which seemed to be boring; but these added credence to the story for someone who ate/dra
Jun 03, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bnb
I've always said that I am not a fan of non-fiction, though in recent years I have been introduced to some non-fiction that I have actually enjoyed. This book takes me back to the "I don't like non-fiction" statement. Turns out that I like the "new" non-fiction that uses fiction techniques. Early on in the reading of this book I got the point that Veeck was an innovator, I knew he was controversial, what I didn't know was what more could possibly be said in the remainder of this book. I did enjo ...more
John Orman
Aug 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Though Veeck is remembered for many oddball actions, he also hired the first Afro-American ballplayer in the American League, Larry Doby, with Cleveland in 1947. His hiring of Satchel Paige led to a Cleveland win in the 1948 World Series.
Also described are those oddball actions, such as putting the midget Eddie Gaedel up to bat in 1951.
The horror of Disco Demolition Night (7/12/79) at Comiskey Park is also detailed.
The verbal anthem for that night was a bunch of drunk people yelling "Disco Sucks
Jul 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baseball
I agree with the Goodreads reviewer who described Dickson's biography as "pedestrian," but it deserves Four Stars for being comprehensive. Bill Veeck was just what the staid world of baseball needed in the Forties and Fifties, especially the American League. Most impressive was Bill marching in M.L. King's funeral procession on a peg leg with no crutch. He was a man of convictions. Paul Dickson's book is marred by too many typographical errors and misspellings. Doesn't Walker & Company use " ...more
Drew Zagorski
Aug 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in the shadow of Comiskey Park, Bill Veeck has been a baseball hero for me. I remember seeing him walking around the park talking to fans, always with a smile. It's that kind of guy that made baseball fun, and what it should be. This was an excellent bio, and the latter chapters in particular, for me anyway, as they covered the Sox in the 70s. If you grew up in Chicago during his time there or you just miss the type of team owners that understood what the game was about, treat yo ...more
Apr 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Bill Veeck was an owner before his time. He unashamedly promoted his teams with every kind of give-a-way possible including greased pigs. He helped break teh color barrier in the Major Leagues and was a life long supporter of civil rights. He at one time owned the minor league Milwaukee Brewers. Thankfully the author avoided the usual game play by play recaps instead focusing on the every man personality of Vecck. While not exactly a page turner it nonetheless held my interest waiting to see ex ...more
Paul Miller
Baseball fans might know Bill Veeck as the guy who batted the 'midget' OR the guy responsible for Disco Demolition Night. All true - all great stories. This book fills out the entire picture - of a true individualist and thought leader for baseball. In terms of promotion, the fan experience, integration, commitment to players... a one of kind guy. Also, known of course for having the artificial leg from a war injury - great stories abound around that as well (he kept an ashtray in his fake leg!) ...more
Michael Kramer
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent biography of a fascinating person. The book brought back memories of seeing Bill Veeck in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. After reading about how approachable he was, I regret not walking up and talking with him. I also remember sitting in Comiskey Park when he owned the White Sox and all the strange promotions. One night in particular I remember struggling between wanting to win a prize between innings and trying to decide what I would do with 98 pounds of Lake Michigan sme ...more
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Before I read this book the only thing I knew about Bill Veeck was that he planted the ivy in Wrigley Field. I had surely been missing out on a lot of baseball history and I'm happy not to be quite so ignorant now! :) The book is well-written and researched. Veeck was certainly a controversial character and I think the author was fair in his portrayal. Lots of notes, references, and a huge bibliography add credibility.
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An amazing look into the life of one of the most interesting men in the history of baseball. Detailed and entertaining Dickson brings Veeck alive throughout the entire book. Fast paced and insightful, I highly recommend it for fans of the sport or for anyone interested in larger than life characters.
May 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: baseball
an incredible telling of the life of a remarkable, iconoclastic man. america could stand to learn more about the life of a man like bill veeck. this is one of the best baseball books i have read in quite some time. veeck's moral compass never wavered, and he never forgot that baseball is supposed to be about entertainment. i found myself deeply entertained by this book.
Tony Woltermann
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book. In addition to crafting a thorough accounting of the life of one of the most interesting non-professional athletes in sports, it provides significant insight into some of the issues of the day.

It was surprising to me how often I came across something that still resonates today, particularly with respect to baseballs broken economics.
Tim Basuino
Jul 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Bio of one of the more interesting baseball owners flows well. Obviously Dickson was a huge fan of Veeck, which works against the book five stars - it could've been at least a tiny bit critical on what didn't work.
Jim Blessing
Oct 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
This was an outstanding book on baseball owner Bill Veeck. He signed the first African-American player in the American League (Larry Doby) and also brought in the legendary Satchel Paige to help the Cleveland Indians win their latest pennant in 1948. He was an amazing human being.
Donny Nelson
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Really loved this book. Bill Veeck is one of the more interesting characters in sports by mixing common sense with the absurd. Along with books written by Veeck, this biography is a must read for anyone in marketing.
Dec 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Thoroughly fascinating. A must read for all real baseball fans
Craig Adamson
Jan 24, 2016 marked it as to-read
recommended and reviewed in WSJ 4-21-2012
Jack M
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it
Excellent read.....enjoyed the details on "Disco Demolition" night. Always thought it was the senior Veeck's promotion, but found out otherwise. He certainly belonged in theBaseball Hall of Fame
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Wonderful biography of an MLB owner 1 1 Aug 04, 2013 08:12PM  
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Paul Dickson is the author of more than 45 nonfiction books and hundreds of magazine articles. Although he has written on a variety of subjects from ice cream to kite flying to electronic warfare, he now concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball and 20th century history.

Dickson, born in Yonkers, NY, graduated from Wesleyan University in 1961 and was honored as a Distinguished A
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