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Remembering Bill Veeck, Baseball’s Greatest Owner

Randy Shawbyline‚ Nov. 29‚ 2012

The late players' union pioneer Marvin Miller was correctly credited this week with shaping baseball more than anyone else over the past four decades. From the 1930’s through the 1970’s, this honor goes to Bill Veeck. Veeck was baseball’s preeminent racial pioneer who made Larry Doby the American League’s first African-American player, and who gave Satchel Paige his first major league chance. He put players’ names on the backs of their uniforms, planted the ivy and installed the scoreboard at Wrigley, pioneered exploding scoreboards, gave 34-year old Tony La Russa his first big league manager’s job, and owned two of the only three American League teams from 1947--1964 that beat the Yankees for the pennant. Yet much of Veeck’s enormous contributions have been obscured by his putting a little person up to bat, and by a “disco demolition” night in Chicago that was not his doing (it was his son's idea). Fortunately his remarkable accomplishments are now chronicled in Paul Dickson’s new book, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.