Bill Veeck has been called a lot of things through the years. Innovator, Showman, Maverick, the P.T. Barnum of baseball and of course some other not so many nice names. A definite man before his time, no matter how many books come out about old Sportshirt Bill, I feel the need to read them.
Bill Veeck, Baseballs Greatest Maverick
By:Paul Dickson-Walker & Company 2012
Bill Veeck always seemed to be the friend of the average fan. From early beginnings with his father working for the Chicago Cubs, Bill spent a lifetime sharing his love of the game. Working various jobs for the Cubs he cut his teeth in the field, and went on to team ownership. With stops in Milwaukee, St. Louis, Cleveland and Chicago, Veeck left an indelible mark on baseball that while unconventional at the time would be appreciated today.
Paul Dickson undertakes the task of fitting all of Veeck’s exploits into one book. He visits all of Bill’s baseball stops and the shenanigans that earned him some of the nicknames I mentioned above. Ladies nights, midgets, game day give aways and of course disco demolition etched Bill’s name into baseball history. Dickson also looks at Veeck’s activities outside of baseball including running a horse track. Veeck had so many innovations both in and out of baseball that he could almost be called spectacular.
Truly an ambassador for baseball, Veeck was rightly enshrined in the Hall of Fame shortly after his death in 1986. But what I find even better about this book is you see the principled man who stood upon that wooden leg——that he used most times as an ash tray. From civil rights to baseball integration to countless other causes that presented themselves in society. Bill Veeck had several causes he thought were worth fighting for. This shows the worth of the man himself. He may not been popular with the other owners for several different reasons, but as a person Bill Veeck seems like a really great guy. This is finally the biography Bill Veeck deserves. It portrays a complete and accurate picture of the man who was well before his time and someone to be admired for his forethought and decency for his fellow-man.
Paul Dickson did a great job with this book. It is one of the best pieces I have ever read on Veeck and anyone who is any kind of fan of Veeck should read it. There may be some duplicity in some of the stories you have heard before, but the painted picture is complete. He may have made a lot of owners angry through the years, but he made lots more people happy and in the end, that’s what matters. He leaves a legacy that should be appreciated for all time.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Walker & Co.
I will admit, Bill Giles was never one of my favorite people. I am from the generation that grew up during Mr. Giles hands on, upper level management of my beloved Phillies. Except for one year after Giles’ ownership group purchased the team, the 80’s were not necessarily a great time to be a Phillies fan. His hands on management style and GM skills left a little bit to be desired for the Philadelphia faithful. I expected todays book to a biography on Bill Giles and his time in Philly, but got so much more………………
Bill Giles & Baseball
By John B. Lord 2014-Temple University Press
I did realize Bill Giles was a lifer in the baseball world, before I read this book. From his early beginnings, training under Gabe Paul with the Cincinnati Reds to his final destination as the Chairman of the Philadelphia Phillies. Giles has been an innovator, marketing wizard, peace maker, media genius and almost everything in between.
As stated above, I expected a normal everyday biography on Giles, instead I got a glimpse into the substantial impact he has had on the game. The author gives you some brief history of the game itself, then jumps in with both feet covering the economic challenges to the game during the 80’s and 90’s. You go through year by year exploring topics such as labor unrest, collusion, commissioner powers, media deals, revenue sharing, league restructuring and inter-league play. You learn how Bill Giles had a hand in fixing some of these issues as well as being the person who made some of the new ideas a reality.
John B. Lord does not forget to cover the positive impact he has had in Philadelphia. This was a good chapter for a Phillies fan because sometimes we tend to forget there are positives that exist with Giles ownership. You get an inside look at the building of Citizens Bank Park and all the hurdles that had to be cleared to make the project come to fruition. Finally you get a glimpse at what its like to assemble a championship caliber team in a city that loves winners.
The author did a great job showing the true value of Bill Giles. He has made valuable contributions to both Philadelphia and the overall structure of baseball. Being a cynical Phillies fan, I myself have probably overlooked some of the value of Mr. Giles. This book has changed my overall perception of him and has allowed me to look past the failings during the 80’s.
For baseball fans, this book is informative and well written and gives you a look at how the baseball establishment runs itself. I don’t think you get many opportunities to see how they function like this one. It also shows how important Bill Giles is to the game we see on the field today. There are many of his ideas out there on the field that we never would have known were his creations.
For Phillies fans maybe they should read it and see once and for all what Bill Giles is really about. Perhaps we have been a little tough on Ol’ Bill for too many years. This book has made me thing we are actually probably better off for having him here.
You can get this book from the friendly folks at Temple University Press