on Sports
Veeck Tradition by Stan Silliman


Silliman on Sports
By Stan Silliman
Veeck Tradition Continues

      The Veecks are baseball promoters extraordinaire yet their names rhyme with train wrecks… maybe with good reason.

    Bill Veeck, Sr. was a baseball writer when William Wrigley installed him as president of the Chicago Cubs. Bill Veeck, Jr. grew up doing odd jobs around the ball park. To say Junior was a publicity hound who owned three baseball teams is to minimize the word “hound”. Mike Veeck continues dad’s promotion tradition and also the tradition of making grand dad turn over in his grave. So much turning, the other corpses in the cemetery complain he’s getting all the exercise.
Veeck Tradition Continues
    Everyone remembers Bill Veeck, Jr as the guy with the idea of sending a midget up to pinch hit in 1951 for the St. Louis Browns wearing the number 1/8th. Of course the midget walks. Try finding a strike zone. We believe Mike Veeck, owner of six minor league teams, has outdone his old man. These are just a few of Mike’s promotions:

  1. Vasectomy Night on Father’s Day. Where a dad draws for a free vasectomy.
  2. Tonya Harding Mini-Bat Night. Fans received a miniature bat with Tonya on hand to autograph them.
  3. Enron Night. This took place with the Portland, Oregon Beavers. Paper shredders were at the gates and the announced attendance was shifted downwards.
  4. Nobody Night. 1800 fans show up in Charleston only to be locked out for a tailgate party until the fifth inning, when the game became official leaving an announced attendance of zero.
  5. Mime-O-Vision Night. For the St. Paul Saints. Five mimes acted out plays atop the dugout.
  6. Silent Night. Fans taped their mouths and sat in silence with librarians as ushers. Fans used signs to cheer or boo and get vendors attention.

      Do you want more? Mike Veeck and his owners group, which includes Bill Murray,
bought six start up minor league teams for under $ 2 mil and promoted them to where they’re worth over
$30 mil.  These are some of his other promotions and weird ideas: A nun giving massages in the stands. A pig named Kevin Bacon delivering baseballs to the umpire. Inflatable bats with the word “Viagra” on them. A barber chair in the bleachers for those wanting a haircut during the game. “Lawyer Appreciation Night” where attorneys have to pay double. On Labor Day, pregnant women get in free.

    “Fun is good,” Mike says, paraphrasing another Mike (Douglas), “Fun is a basic human need. Fun is the primary way I’ve helped build six minor league teams into a $25 million dollar annual business. I learned this from my dad, a guy with zero pretense – he built an ashtray into his wooden leg, for crying out loud. But he knew when people had fun, they would spend money.”

    And they do. While some teams are struggling in attendance all the teams Mike promotes are selling out. When season tickets went on sale for the St. Paul Saints, a few miles down the road from the big league Twins, fans camped out for two days. Check out Mike’s other teams: Charleston, South Carolina Riverdogs, Hudson Valley Renegades, Sioux Falls Canaries, Fort Myers Miracles, Portland Oregon Beavers. Also check out Mike’s book, Fun is Good.
That goes both for the games and the book.


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