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Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick Hardcover – April 24, 2012


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Hardcover, April 24, 2012
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Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick + Veeck--As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck + The Hustler's Handbook
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Walker & Company (April 24, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802717780
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802717788
  • Product Dimensions: 1.6 x 6.7 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #640,150 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

    Bill Veeck—The award-winning biography of baseball's greatest maverick by Paul Dickson:

  • Casey Award for the best baseball book of 2012 from Spitball Magazine.
  • Reader’s Choice Award from the Baseball Caucus of the Special Libraries Association of America which is also for the best baseball book of 2012.
  •  2012 Jerome Holtzman Award from the Chicago Baseball Museum.

Dickson has also been awarded the Henry Chadwick Award from the Society for Baseball Research for 2012 for his lifetime achievements as a baseball researcher and  scholar. In 2011 Dickson won the Tony Salin Award from the Baseball Reliquary for his contributions to the preservation of the history of the game.

"Veeck was a one of a kind whose impact reached beyond the ballpark, into the very fiber of 20th-century America. Dickson has captured it all in entertaining fashion."—James Bailey, Baseball America

"Paul Dickson’s excellent biography Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick is among the few great biographies set in sports. Beyond that it is the story of a singular fellow whose energy, determination, wit, and powerful commitment to fairness spiced with an unquenchable sense of the absurd enabled him to live an exceptionally full and passionate life."—Bill Littlefield, The Boston Globe

"In this crisply written, admiring but never fawning chronicle, Dickson makes a strong case for Veeck as the most influential baseball executive who ever lived. He was certainly the most entertaining."—Marc Mohan, The Portland Oregonian

"One outstanding question hangs over Paul Dickson’s new biography, Bill Veeck, Baseball’s Greatest Maverick: Why did it take so long for the most colorful and perhaps most influential figure in baseball history to get a definitive biography? Probably because it took more than 20 years after Veeck’s death (in 1986) to put all the facets of his amazing life together. Dickson, author of several superb baseball books, including The Dickson Baseball Dictionary and Baseball is… Defining the National Pastime, has done more than write the best baseball biography so far this decade. He’s written an important piece of baseball history." —Allen Barra, The Chicago Tribune

"Paul Dickson has written the comprehensive biography."—Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"In his lively (and occasionally beatific) biography, baseball and cultural historian Paul Dickson brings Veeck to life, relentlessly digging into his career and times to create a portrait of the kind of guy you'd like to have in your corner - or at your table for a drink." Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

"Dickson renders an engaging portrait of a man who was more than just the facilitator of Eddie Gaedel, Larry Doby, and Comiskey Park's exploding scoreboard...[He] lucidly brings Veeck into focus."—NINE: A Journal of Baseball History & Culture

"Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick incorporates the picaresque anecdotes and populist charm of Veeck's memoirs into a narrative marked by Mr. Dickson's broad knowledge and fluid authority. The result is a biography that newcomers to the Veeck legend are likely to find immensely appealing, but one that also makes him new again for those who have already savored the baseball showman's own episodic volumes."—Maxwell Carter, The Wall Street Journal

"The proof of goodness is usually in the details, so it becomes clear right off the bat that Dickson has written an authoritative work."—Mike Downey, The Los Angeles Times

"Bill Veeck comes as close to a "must-read" as any baseball book in recent memory. Grade: Home run."–Mark Hodermarsky, Cleveland Plain Dealer 

"Dickson gives Veeck his due in a volume sure to have a long shelf life." –Booklist

"An engaging biography of Bill Veeck…[Dickson] expertly evokes Veeck’s populist, garrulous public persona, while at the same time showing the private pain he endured as a World War II injury caused him to have countless amputations of portions of his right leg, leading to deterioration and ruin of the rest of his body, but not his spirit. Veeck is not as well remembered as he should be. Dickson’s book is a skillful corrective."–Kirkus

"Paul Dickson has knocked another one out of the park with Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick a skillfully written biography, scrupulously researched, brimming with revealing anecdotes and historical detail ….So if you’re planning your summer reading list, I recommend you place  Dickson’s enlightening and highly entertaining biography on one of baseball’s most combative if influential owners at the very top of your list."—Bill Lucey, The Morning Delivery.

"Dickson brings the larger-than-life presence of Veeck into sharper focus, and re-introduces his innovative baseball mind in a fresh light. It’s a smart, detailed and precise read, showing the same delightful candor that Veeck displayed during his heyday."—Bob D’Angelo, Tampa Tribune

"Paul Dickson’s biography of Bill Veeck is thorough, entertaining, and superb."—Bill Littlefield, NPR "Only A Game."

"Any man who wanted to be included on Richard Nixon's enemies list is worthy of a searching biography—and Paul Dickson has been kind ehough to do that for us with his compelling portrait of the unregenerate Bill Veeck."—Ray Robinson, author of Iron Horse: Lou Gehrig In His Time.

"A definitive look at one of baseball's greatest innovators and ambassadors. A must-read."—Claire Smith, ESPN

"Paul Dickson has written a definitive biography."—Vick Mikunas, Dayton Daily News

"Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick is a deeply insightful, powerful biography of a fascinating figure. It will take its place beside the recent bestselling biographies of Satchel Paige and Mickey Mantle, and will be the baseball book of the season in Spring 2012."—Feedbooks

"[Veeck] never truly got the recognition he deserved. Now he has."— Sports Books Reviews by Harvey Frommer

"Dickson is a master with words …He's got a voice that works with this subject, thankfully, and keeps it on track when all craziness could be breaking out. …. In fact, it's about time, and there has to be a way for someone to use this as a launching point for a movie about Veeck's life on the big screen." —Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Daily News

"[S]ure to entertain is Paul Dickson’s latest: Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick (Walker). As you’d expect, Veeck’s trials, tribulations and experiments with the great game as its greatest promoter may well hold center stage, but Dickson has done something with this biography that I particularly loved … which is to write a book that also covers this man’s life outside of the game"—Christina Kahrl, ESPN, "Sweet Spot"

"BILL VEECK, in the language of the subject, is a homerun—a bases clearer. The story of the remarkable full-life of this pioneering baseball character is told with the steadiness, detail and flare that we have come to expect from Paul Dickson,  the premier all-star writer and reporter. The book is great fun—much like being in the bleachers during a day game."—Jim Lehrer    

"Bill Veeck didn’t want to break rules, he insisted, just "test their elasticity." He wasn't talking only about baseball. The master showman, who famously sent a three-foot-seven-inch batter to the plate, also desegregated the American League and proudly marched in the funeral procession for Dr. Martin Luther King—on his peg leg and without crutches. BILL VEECK revisits a golden age for baseball, a pivotal time for America and some hilarious moments in the life of a man who helped to change both."—Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune

"Bill Veeck was inventive, courageous, principled, and hugely influential--the Thomas Paine of a revolutionary time in baseball … [who] has awaited a clear-eyed admiring chronicler, and in Paul Dickson he has found him. This amazingly detailed, delicious biography is, as its subject might have titled it, VEECK--AS IN SPEC-tacular!"—John Thorn, Official Historian, Major League Baseball, and author of Baseball in the Garden of Eden

"[So] don't resist. Buy Paul Dickson's new book and have a blast."—Larry Tye, author of Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend

"Bill Veeck has finally met his match.  Paul Dickson, consummate baseball historian, has given Veeck the biography he deserves. Meticulously reported and exhaustively researched, Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick is, like its subject, a show-stopper."—Jane Leavy, author of The Last Boy: Mickey Mantle and the End of America’s Childhood and Sandy Koufax

Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick is a very fine baseball biography that compares with the best work that has been published on the leaders of the sport over the years. Paul Dickson’s breezy style illuminates not only the Bill Veeck of legend, but also the real Bill Veeck who worked hard at his craft even as he honed to a fine art the persona of a maverick and a "hustler," the term Veeck liked best in characterizing himself … Lost in all of the showmanship, publicity and stunts, Dickson concludes, was a tremendously sound baseball and business mind." —Roger Launius, Washington Independent Review of Books

"I was vastly entertained by Paul Dickson's biography of Bill Veeck, the wild man baseball impresario from Chicago. In addition to being an authoritative chronicle of how the game used to be in that halcyon fifty years between 1930 and 1980, it also gives off a reminiscent aura of grass outfields,the comforting feel of a hard bleacher seat, and airmade redolent of popcorn and tobacco. … One of the strong points of this book is the easy-reading, yet knowledgeable voice of the author."—Jim Srodes, American Spectator

"Bill Veeck is as good as it gets when it comes to describing an American original. FIVE STARS."—Budd Bailey, Sports Book Review Center
 
“The best place to start is to say that I‘ve probably never had as much fun reading a book.  Nor have I ever interrupted my reading so many times to regale my family with passages and anecdotes.  If you haven’t picked this book up yet, the time is now.  If you are a baseball fan, a humanitarian, a history buff, someone who enjoys a good story, you’ll have a hard time putting it down."—David Karpinski, Baseball Roundtable
 
“Dickson deftly captures this complex character, whose legacy reflects both Eddie Gaedel and Larry Doby, hucksterism and heroics.”—Steve Roberts, The Washington Post

About the Author

Paul Dickson is the author of several classic baseball books, including The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, The Unwritten Rules of Baseball, The Hidden Language of Baseball, and The Joy of Keeping Score. He is also the author of the classic narrative history Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, and the co-author of the acclaimed The Bonus Army: An American Epic. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.

More About the Author

Paul Dickson is the author of more than 45 nonfiction books and hundreds of magazine articles. Although he has written on a variety of subjects from ice cream to kite flying to electronic warfare, he now concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball and 20th century history. His most recent titles include Drunk: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and Slang: A Topical Dictionary of Americanisms.

Customer Reviews

The love was mutual.
Bill Emblom
I read a lot of baseball history but there are few books I've enjoyed as much as this biography of Bill Veeck by Paul Dickson.
MikeShatzkin
Very interesting and well researched.
Robert O. Brickman

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Andy Shuping on April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
ARC provided by NetGalley

Bill Veeck. For baseball fans the name draws to mind instantly the ill fated Disco Night and Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player to ever bat in a MLB game. But there is so much more to the story and a debt that baseball fans the world over owe to Bill Veeck. He was so much more than baseball. He was an innovator, a free spirit, and an advocate for racial equality in a time when many baseball owners wanted nothing to do with it.

Relying on primary documents and more than a 100 interviews Paul Dickson builds a well crafted story that takes us on a journey through Bill's life. Paul begins with Bill Senior, Bill's father, to give us a sense of where the passion for baseball came from. Bill Senior was a self made man, with little education, but worked his way up to being president of the Chicago Cubs and Bill Jr. learned at his feet.

Working with his father Bill helped make Wrigley field the premier place to be, even introducing the famed ivy wall to the stadium. And that was just the start of his baseball career and a life well lived. He owned multiple teams, served in World War II--not as honorary member or stateside serving soldier, but in combat zones constantly asking to be sent to the front lines to help fight the war. He endured a leg injury that later led to amputation and multiple surgeries throughout his life that he endured without complaint. He signed the first black baseball player for the American League and pushed for racial equality throughout baseball. He walked with Martin Luther King Jr., he invented the exploding scoreboard, reached out to female fans and made them feel welcome, and even sat in the bleacher seats with the rest of the fans.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Margaret Engel on April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
"Baseball's Greatest Maverick" is part sociology, part psychology, part history -- and all fascinating baseball about the game's most intuitive and clever owner. Even if you think you know about baseball and Bill Veeck, you will be surprised at the depth of research into the startling truths why baseball took so long to be integrated and other dinosaur-like behavior towards players and fans. If only Veeck's huge box of ideas had survived. Let's hope Mike Veeck inherited it.
Paul Dickson has done a beautiful job writing and deeply researching this engrossing tale of a true American icon. It is a study of a man of true character and conviction, whose unerring instincts put him on the fan's side, always. Buy this book!
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Meysh in Ohio on April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
If the goal of a biography is to give a sense of the life as it was lived, then Paul Dickson's BILL VEECK is a grand success. Not only does it bring the great man to life (and demonstrate why he really was great), it puts him in the context of his own development and his own times. The famous -- or notorious -- events are put in proper perspective, and there's a wealth of wonderful "Who knew?" details. You don't need to be a baseball fan to be entertained and enlightened by Dickson's life of Bill Veeck, but if you are one, you need to get this book. And or if you know anyone in or from Chicago, Cleveland, St. Louis, Milwaukee, or Arizona (among other places), get it as a gift. They'll be amazed.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill Emblom on May 4, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A solid five stars to author Paul Dickson who has done a masterful job in capturing the life of former baseball owner Bill Veeck. The liberal-minded Veeck enjoyed tweaking the nose of his fellow stuffed shirt conservative baseball owners who felt Veeck made a travesty of the game with his wild ideas. Veeck held the radical belief that nothing is owed to him as an owner, and it was his job to promote his product (namely the team) to encourage fans to come out to the ball park. To merely open the gates and expect the fans to come rushing up to the turnstiles was simply not enough. Veeck was criticized by his fraternity brother owners for holding, what they perceived as circus-like activities that detracted from the "dignity" of the game. Veeck realized that the best promotion is a winning team, but a winning team plus promotions to make the fans feel welcome and appreciated are an added incentive to bring fans out to the park.

Bill Veeck brought the Cleveland Indians its last World Championship in 1948 and signed Larry Doby, the first African-American in the American League. From there he moved to the hapless St. Louis Browns where he is best remembered for sending the midget Eddie Gaedel up to bat on August 19, 1951, in the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Veeck's next stop was the Chicago White Sox where his Go-Go Sox won the 1959 American League pennant. He once again bought the Pale Hose in the 1970s which most likely prevented their moving to Seattle. He also spent time horsing around the Suffolk Downs race track in the Boston area.

Veeck was a man ahead of his times.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By RM COHEN on April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick by Paul Dickson is a Dickesonian delight! If you enjoyed Dickson's Baseball Is... and The Unwritten Rules of Baseball, this book will knock you out! Paul Dickson has written a deliciously entertaining book on the life of the most original and beguiling figure ever to grace the sport of baseball. It would behoove today's baseball executives and front office personnel to buy this book, read this book and then take a page out of it. Veeck can teach them... humanity.

As a student of Bill Veeck, I thought I knew everything there was to know about Veeck. I was wrong. This is not the usual Eddie Gaedel and Demolition Derby theatrics but baseball in the context of the history of our country as seen from the other side of the color bar. Paige, Landis, Doby, Robeson... the research is stunning! Paul Dickson brings us into the room with Veeck and pours us a cocktail!

Personally, I was most pleased to read about one of the greatest baseball scandals, (not called steroids), of the 20th Century. That being the sullying of Bill Veeck's good name. Dickson does a fine job unraveling the controversy brought up by some rather uneducated (dare I say, loathes) who in the name of celebrity and expediency called Bill Veeck, a liar. Dickson documents it all and let's it rip! Dickson shows us Veeck as he was, an unrepentant lover of life who derived great joy by making the baseball establishment - insane. Veeck did it with grace, brains, language and more integrity then we will ever hope to see again. Bill Veeck was indeed not only Baseball's Greatest Maverick, but the greatest maverick of all! Kudos to Paul Dickson for a job well-done!
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