my heroes arent the ones with lots of money or good looks or fancy cars.
they’re idea people. but more, they were convincing enough to get the ideas out there.
one of my heroes is Bill Veeck. Not Bill Sr, but Jr.
Senior was a sportswriter in Chicago almost exactly 100 years ago. In his daily column he would often speculate what he would do if he was running the Cubs. Eventually William Wrigley Jr gave him a shot as Vice President to try out some of those ideas in real life and the Cubs won the NL pennant. So Wrigley made Veeck president of the club where he remained for about 15 years until he died.
Long time readers will remember that I used to write daily blog posts here where I would start off by saying Dear LA Times, you suck…. and I would then give away secrets of how they could improve if only they hired me. Eventually they let me run their blogs and our traffic increased by 2,300% until some genius convinced them that they could do it without me. LOL.
After Veeck Sr. died, his son sold peanuts in the stands at Wrigley Field. 80 years ago today Bill Veeck Jr. got the ear of the Wrigleys and told them about an idea that wouldn’t cost much money but would add a touch of class and uniqueness to the ballpark. The idea was ivy covering the bricks. Which today still grows at the Friendly Confines.
Veeck Jr., would go on to own the crosstown White Sox and there he would let his imagination go wild while innovating baseball — and other sports. He introduced the exploding scoreboard that would shoot off fireworks whenever someone from the home team hit a homer, he put the players names on the back of their jerseys to appease people who didn’t want to buy scorecards, he put a showerhead in left field so people could cool off on hot Chicago afternoons. He even set up a barbershop in the bleachers in Center Field so a man could get a haircut while watching the game.
One of his most overlooked ideas was letting the fans decide if a pitcher should get pulled from the game or if they should put in a pinch hitter.
But maybe the best idea he ever had was hiring the lovably wild Harry Caray as the White Sox’ broadcaster and letting him do whatever the hell he wanted to do, which soon included singing Take Me Out To The Ball Game during the 7th inning stretch.
When Veeck got old he sold the White Sox, he was often seen back across town in the bleachers of Wrigley cheering on the Cubs at the field he grew up in, in the park that he touched in such a beautiful way. He would be seen with his shirt off, in shorts revealing his wooden leg, sipping on an Old Style, just feet away from the ivy that wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for him.