Commentaries: Baseball According to Bill Veeck

A series of commentaries on baseball and sports by Bill Veeck.

00:00Copy video clip URL Title card and count-in.

00:33Copy video clip URL Footage of Bill Veeck on various programs, while Roger Wallenstein narrates.

01:11Copy video clip URL Bill Veeck on left-handers. Footage from September 1984. Veeck talks about how left-handers are a minority, and the right-handers have created arbitrary rules that left-handers can’t play third base, shortstop, or catcher. “Left-handers of the world arise! You have nothing to lose but your worthless rights.”

04:21Copy video clip URL April 1984. Opening Day of baseball signifies the end of the winter. He remembers all the opening day mishaps–paint that wouldn’t dry, exploding scoreboards, mis-aimed skydivers. Opening day is remembered by what should’ve happened that didn’t, and what shouldn’t have happened that did.

06:30Copy video clip URL Spring Training 1982. Veeck talks about the heroes of baseball while footage of the players he discusses plays. Babe Ruth. “A fellow of infinite capacity to rise to an occasion.” Hack Wilson. “Drank more beer of Mr. Capone’s manufacture than any person in Chicago.” Jackie Robinson, the first African American major league ballplayer. Pete Gray, a one-armed ballplayer. Satchel Paige. “The best pitcher that I’ve ever seen.”

9:45Copy video clip URL Talk of umpires. Veeck thinks umpires are too eager to throw managers out of the game, to assert their authority. Misses Bill Clem: “If that bat lands, I think you’re outta here.” The umpires are also inconsistent. If you’re winning, the strike zone is narrower if you’re at the plate. “They’re meatheads, that’s what they are.”

12:34Copy video clip URL Veeck sitting in the bleachers at Wrigley field–his home away from home. Footage from March 1985. Veeck talks about planting the ivy at Wrigley. “It happened because I inadvertently mentioned that the brick walls were so bare and so harsh in appearance and texture… you bounce off that wall and you’re going to get your skull caved in.” He talks about what he learned from Phil Wrigley about a ballpark. “That phrase ‘Beautiful Wrigley field’ used to drive me bananas when I had the White Sox.”

15:01Copy video clip URL Old footage of Wrigley field. Veeck talks about designing the “yard arm” that was used to display whether the Cubs had won or lost to people riding on the El. He talks about worrying about it falling down during a storm, and climbing up to it to check on it, and getting stuck for four or five hours holding onto the yard arm in the storm. It turned out that the yard arm was braced for twice as much wind as Chicago ever has.

17:27Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about ticket scalpers. He talks about the amount of money made by re-selling tickets, through scalpers and brokers. He is proud that the Cubs tickets all go to Cubs fans. “The scalpers are getting scalped and it’s wonderful to see the blood running down their head.”

19:33Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about the future of baseball. He imagines ballplayers with transplanted arms, and test tube ballplayers with Satchel Paige’s genes. The equipment and injury treatment will be different; registered physicians as trainers and clubhouse psychologists. “I don’t begrudge the athletes any of the money they get, I begrudge the owners the opportunity to pay because I think they have let things get out of control in their search for either maximized profits or maximized write-off or maximized ego.”

22:08Copy video clip URL Veeck at the bar talking to Roger Wallenstein about their show being “terminated.” He worries about television’s control of baseball games, and their quest to “make an extra buck.” He says that television is forcing night games because they want the prime time commercials. He’s worried that television will start dictating what players the teams use based on appearance.

25:15Copy video clip URL January 1985. Veeck talks about spring training. “The Garden of Eden is a small piece of land, well-watered, green–an emerald diamond lying between the base lines in one of those wonderful little parks that dot the sun belt.” “You sit there in the sun and you dream.” Spring training is when everyone is a winner and the best ballplayer that ever was; anything is possible.

28:18Copy video clip URL Credits. “Happy Trails” plays.

29:18Copy video clip URL End of tape.

 

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