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The Hustler's Handbook (Fireside Sports Classics) Paperback – June, 1989
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Top Customer Reviews
Hey, you can have your Babe Ruths and Willie Mays and Barry Bonds. Give me Bill Veeck. Veeck's the guy who introduced Bat Day, had the one and only midget pinch-hitter in the history of baseball, put players' names on the back of uniforms, had the first exploding scoreboard and signed the first African-American to play in the American League - Larry Doby. Oh, yeah, and he planted the ivy around the outfield fences at Wrigley Field.
The Hustler's Handbook was written in 1965 with sportswriter Ed Linn. Somehow or other I got the feeling it was written to help pay off a creditor or two. Don't know where I got that idea, but I'll stick with it for now. The book is a product of the time and often deals with what were then current issues - the behind-the-scene story of the '64 World Series, the purchase of the New York Yankees by CBS, a couple of then fresh chapters on baseball executives Horace Stoneman and Branch Rickey. All things considered, we can forgive him his chapter on the cute widdle Metsies. I've been sick of the stories about these "lovable losers" since before Roger Clemens was born, but Veeck doesn't let too much treacle ruin his observations.
This volume of Veeck's observations on the state of the game is a flat out delight. Veeck's observations are pungent and direct.
This is what he had to say about Yogi Berra: "Yogi is a completely manufactured product. He is a case study of this country's unlimited ability to gull itself and be gulled.... It pleased the public to think that this odd-looking little man with the great natural ability had a knack for mouthing humorous truth with the sort of primitive peasant wisdom we rather expect from our sports heroes.Read more ›
The above doesn't detract from my strong recommendation, because even as a dozen-odd independent chapters that relate only marginally to one another, it's still wonderful stuff. Old stories about almost-forgotten figures, commentaries on various owners' catfights, and plenty of gaffs at Ford Frick. One of the most interesting parts is the chapter devoted to the interpretation of the long-mislaid notes of Harry Grabiner. (Who cares?, you might ask? Ever hear of the Black Sox scandal? Well, Harry was in the Chisox front office when that happened. A lot of people should be glad these notes weren't published until 45 years after the fact, and Veeck's commentary on them is most incisive.)
A definite search candidate, and if you dig in it enough, contains a lot of insight into the operation of a ballclub.
And with one book already published - Veeck as in Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck - the impresario of sports promotion, with co-author Ed Linn, appeared to be giving his farewell to the game through wit, wisdom and a number of brushback pitches on his critics in Major League Baseball. This edition is a September 2009 softcover reprint from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group: Ivan R. Dee, Publisher.
"As the first assignment, class, we will now all burn our dictionaries and get on to the real definitions, complete with illustrations, gesticulation and grimaces....," writes Veeck, as he tackles the fine art of marketing. "Department stores, automobile agencies and other sportsmen and philanthropists are more than willing to donate gifts in return for the advertising and goodwill."
There is a sailboat presented to Nellie Fox of the White Sox on "Nellie Fox Night" and a grand plan for honoring southpaw fans due to the Milwaukee Braves non-use of left-handed pitching great Warren Spahn, along with mainstays in the Veeck repertoire; Christmas in July, Name's the Same, the Money-Back Guarantee and a gala Mother's Day celebration. One of his ideas became a major winner in ballparks: "Bat Day has become the biggest promotion of late. We started it in St.Read more ›
The most significant historical content in THH is fully contained in Chapter 11. As the owner of the Chicago White Sox in 1959 and the early sixties, Veeck claims to have found (in a dusty storage room deep in the bowels of Comiskey Park) a diary kept by the White Sox's secretary in the critical years of 1919 and 1920, as the Black Sox scandal was unfolding. Veeck details the newsworthy revelations from the diary, and matches them up to the generally accepted storyline of the scandal. The diary provides an especially good behind-the-scenes glimpse of how the White Sox and the powerful men who ran Major League Baseball at the time were maneuvering to protect their interests at the expense of the truth.
The diary also contains a note accusing a Cubs player of throwing the 1918 World Series. This accusation became the basis of Sean Deveney's book "The Original Curse", which assembles evidence in support of that claim. So Veeck in THH has definitely contributed to the historical record of this very important event in baseball history.
The rest of THH is much more light-hearted in tone. Veeck writes in THH as though he were teaching a class of students how to become a hustler and make money as the operator of a baseball team. As Dick Schaap says on the cover of the volume I read, Veeck "knows how to laugh and how to think", which is why THH is so enjoyable.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Worth the price if only for its summary of Harry Grabiner's diary entries about the Black Sox scandal. Read morePublished 11 months ago by Robert B.
True, this book is a bit dated, but its a great look back at major league baseball during its golden era! Veeck's writing style is most enjoyable!Published 20 months ago by voracious reader
Read this years ago and loved it and recently reread it. Bill Veeck was baseball at one time. I love his philosophy that you pay for advertising and a hustler gets publicity for... Read morePublished on May 23, 2014 by Kug
This was a Birthday gift for my husband, and he loves it!
He has met Bill Veeck and so this book means more to him.
BILL VEECK WAS ONE OF THE GREATEST PROMOTORS OF BASEBALL EVER. HE AND HAS FATHER WERE THE ONES WHO PUT THE IVY AT WRIGLEY FIELD. Read morePublished on September 24, 2010 by COOL JEWEL
Baseball's Bill Veeck covers many bases in this dated (1965) but superb inside look at the business of baseball. Read morePublished on April 2, 2010 by K.A.Goldberg
THE HUSTLER'S HANDBOOK offers a hilarious account from one of baseball's long-time characters and blends stories, anecdotes and theories into a book rich with lessons on how to... Read morePublished on October 18, 2009 by Midwest Book Review