Paul Dickson has done all sports fans a favor by writing Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick. Veeck is one of "those" guys in American sports history-- enormously influential, but little-known outside of baseball circles. He deserves more attention than he receives.
Veeck, the owner of several major- and minor-league baseball teams from the 1940s to the '70s (including the American Association Milwaukee Brewers) almost singlehandedly created modern sports marketing. Anything you can think of when you go to a sporting event--the fan giveaways, the exploding-fireworks scoreboard, the goofy sideshows and contests--were either invented or popularized by Veeck. He also helped break the color line in baseball, hiring Larry Doby for his 1947 Cleveland Indians, the first African American in the American League.
Dickson does a great job bringing Veeck to life in these pages, integrating his subject's singular voice and candor with memories from family, friends, former players and employees and others who knew him.
I like this book a lot, but I don't care much for the title. To call Bill Veeck a "maverick" kind of cheapens the man's legacy. It's such a corny word, usually associated with television cowboys. Bill Veeck was a visionary, an innovator, a genius, but most of all he was an American who led a uniquely American life.
Also recommended: Bill Veeck's own books, Veeck as in Wreck and The Hustler's Handbook.
Brett @ Central