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Thirty Tons a Day: The Rough-Riding Education of a Neophyte Racetrack Operator Hardcover – November 17, 1972

4.7 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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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 the game and for his publicity stunts that brought fans to the ball park. He also wrote Veeck as in Wreck and The Hustler's Handbook. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: The Viking Press (November 17, 1972)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670701572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670701575
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,485,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By ealovitt HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER on July 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In spite of this book's title, there are no horses to speak of in "Thirty Tons a Day." Self-proclaimed "hustler," Bill Veeck, Jr., who has been called the greatest public relations man and promotional genius the game of baseball has ever seen, decided to take a detour into the Thoroughbred business by purchasing Suffolk Downs, a run-down racetrack near Boston. This book is his story of how he renovated the racetrack, starting in 1969, then took on the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of the Massachusetts government to haul Thoroughbred racing, kicking and screaming out of the Dark Ages--or more accurately out of the Age of Puritans.
He succeeded in his battles against the government (thanks mainly to the judicial branch) but was finally done in by his own holding company, Realty Equities. The bittersweet final chapter describes the farewell party he threw for his friends who had joined him in his two-year, and ultimately bankrupted racetrack venture.
It was a wild two-year ride and Veeck is a very colorful character, even when he is talking about holding companies and Boston politics. During his tenure at the track, he had the pay toilets and artificial flowers banned from the facility, staged chariot races and livestock giveaways (Brahma bulls and a Thoroughbred). There was also going to be a reenactment of Custer's last stand, which alas was rained out (Veeck didn't have much luck with the weather during his tenure). He also inaugurated what was then the richest turf race in the world, the Yankee Gold Cup, won by the French horse, Jean-Pierre (so there are a few horses mentioned in this book, just not as many as you might be led to believe by the title).
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Classic Book about running a race track on a day to day basis.
The book is about Suffix Downs in Boston or as they called it "Suffern Downs".
Bill Veeck is famous in Baseball, but he got tangled up in horse racing with a job to try to save Suffix Race Course.
The book is at time very funny and at other times you can see that the track is going under and no matter what Veeck did or tried to do the downward spiral was unstoppable.
Where I grew up in Pittsfield, Massachusetts the Race track called Berkshire Downs closed in 1969 (summer).
With the closing of Boston's Race Track, Horse racing has come to an end in Massachusetts.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just finished reading this 1972 gem about the colorful Mr. Veeck's efforts to buy and operate Suffolk Downs horse track in 1970s Boston. Well written, with numerous excellent passages, this was an interesting and lively read. The personalities, places, and dirty politics of Massachusetts came alive in ways that still have me smiling and squirming.

For me, the final quarter of the book got bogged down in descriptions of dirty financial and regulatory dealings. If your experience is similar, put the book down, because the final chapter has just been written - Suffolk Downs closed for good in October 2014.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Too few people today remember who Bill Veeck was, and what an entertaining and insightful writer (with Ed Linn's help, to be sure) he was, both about baseball and, in this book, horseracing. The book details his brief stint as manager of Suffolk Downs, a dilapidated Boston race track he was charged with reviving. The book is a hilarious (and fascinating) read, primarily about Boston politics in general, and about the politics of Massachusetts horseracing specifically. It is also fascinating about the day-to-day minutiae of running a race track anywhere- the title highlighting just one of the problems that any race track operator has to deal with. Veeck is one of the great, maverick entrepreneurs in sports history, famous not least for his instinct for promotion, the instinct that put Eddie Goedel, a very small person, in a St. Louis Browns uniform for one memorable at-bat in 1948. For anyone with an interest in the Runyonesque side of sport, Veeck's supremely optimistic and broadly human approach to the mysteries of running a sports team or, in this case, a shaky horseracing race track, this book is a classic must-read.
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Bill Veeck was a great man, great sportsman and a very good writer. Best known for his long, innovative and iconoclastic career in baseball, this book details his detour in the ownership of a race track and, by extension, Massachusetts politics. Bill wore his heart on his sleeve (and an ash tray in his peg leg!) and the candor, insight and utter humanity make this an interesting and oddly inspiring book.
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