The All-Stars of baseball gather tonight under the bright lights in St. Louis, and with all the hoopla over home run derbies and home field advantage, we're looking back at one of the most outrageous baseball personalities ever: Bill Veeck.
His autobiography is Veek as in Wreck and it starts with the episode that's perhaps Veeck's most famous: bringing 3'7" Eddie Gaedel into a game as a pinch hitter. Naturally, Gaedel walked on four straight pitches (his strike zone was approximately one and a half inches!), was replaced by a pinch runner, and left the game to a standing ovation.
From here, we read about how Veeck planted the ivy on Wrigley Field's walls, signed Larry Doby as the first black player in the American League, put players' names on the back of their jerseys, dressed the White Sox in shorts, invented the exploding scoreboard in Chicago, and much, much more.
Veeck was a one-of-a-kind character who simply couldn't exist in today's more corporate sports atmosphere. Even better for us, he was a master storyteller. This autobiography transcends sports literature; local writer Mike Lupica calls it "...the best sports book of them all" and it may well be. They just don't make 'em like Veeck any more!