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The Hustler's Handbook (Fireside Sports Classics) Paperback – June, 1989

4.8 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Veeck is a divisive figure in baseball's history...cutting through the mythology of baseball to get at the sport's more essential themes. (George Ducker Los Angeles Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bill Veeck (1914–1986) brought a flamboyant, fan–oriented entrepreneurship to his ownership of the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago White Sox. He is best remembered for the innovations he brought to baseball and for his publicity stunts that brought fans to the ball park. He also wrote Veeck as in Wreck and Thirty Tons a Day. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Fireside Sports Classics
  • Paperback: 371 pages
  • Publisher: Fireside (June 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671662228
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671662226
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.9 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,974,495 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Steven Hellerstedt on June 21, 2004
Format: Paperback
A hustler gets a free ride and makes it seem as if he's doing you a favor. - Bill Veeck
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.
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Format: Paperback
This out-of-print work treats us to the great combination of Bill Veeck's insight and sense of humour as rendered by Ed Linn (recently passed on... rest in peace, and thanks for all the great reading), one of the best authors any baseball figure ever wrote a book 'with'. It is dated about 1966, before the era of free agency, baseball strikes, and Veeck's second stint as owner of the White Sox. It doesn't really live up to the title, it wanders a bit, and at the end it leaves one wondering whether Veeck had a message to convey (beyond, of course, the standard refrain that baseball owners generally shouldn't be trusted any further than one can throw a slider underwater).
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.
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Format: Paperback
Bill Veeck had been out of baseball for four years when The Hustler's Handbook was originally published in 1965 and it appeared to many pundits that he was out of the game for good. "Sport Shirt Bill" had sold his ownership interest in the Chicago White Sox in 1961 due to illness and had been thwarted by the "Lords of the Realm" in pursuing an American League franchise for Los Angeles, though he would return in 1975 as owner of the ChiSox.

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.
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Format: Paperback
Bill Veeck's masterpiece is "Veeck as in Wreck". If that book left you hungry for more, or if you have a serious interest in baseball history, them you will also enjoy Veeck's "The Hustler's Handbook" (THH).

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.
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