A show about the current state of affairs in baseball. Bill Veeck and author Bill Brashler focus in on the changes that increasing amounts of money have brought to baseball and its future. Interspersed with their discussion are various interviews and archival clips of baseball players and personalities. It was produced shortly after Veeck sold the Chicago White Sox and retired from active involvement with Major League Baseball.
0:00Copy video clip URL Slate, WTTW logo.
0:27Copy video clip URL Shots of Bill Veeck at the ballpark.
0:40Copy video clip URL Veeck does introduction. The program will investigate changes to baseball and its future.
1:58Copy video clip URL Voice over and text explain the floundering state of ballgame attendance.
2:36Copy video clip URL Title: “A View From The Bleachers with Bill Veeck.” Veeck tells Brashler who his heroes are from a lifetime in baseball: those who were “larger than life… Babe Ruth.”
3:44Copy video clip URL Clips of Babe Ruth.
4:10Copy video clip URL Veeck also names Hack Wilson as one of his heroes, and shows clips of him.
4:42Copy video clip URL Veeck calls Jackie Robinson “a different kind” of hero, and shows clips.
5:20Copy video clip URL Pete Gray, the only one-armed player in the history of Major League Baseball is Veeck’s next hero. Veeck says Gray “represents the handicapped.”
5:44Copy video clip URL Stachell Paige, is Veeck’s next hero. Veeck says Paige is “perhaps the greatest pitcher ever, if he had been allowed to play.”
6:18Copy video clip URL Joe DiMaggio clips. Veeck calls him a “leader and hero… [DiMaggio] always did the right thing at the right time.” Then Veeck and Brashler discuss how DiMaggio became a hero for what he did off the baseball field (marrying Marilyn Monroe, being the spokesman for Mr. Coffee, etc) . The move on to a discussion of “one of the greatest Yankees,” Casey Stengel.
7:38Copy video clip URL Casey Stengel, talking “Stengelese.”
8:30Copy video clip URL They discuss baseball managers that are heroes. The first is Billy Martin of the Oakland A’s. Veeck says that Martin is “the little man’s manager,” and says that Martin has a disdain for authority, and that he is not intimidated. We see a clip of Martin confronting an umpire. Their discussion moves to Reggie Jackson.
09:10Copy video clip URL Brashler and Veeck discuss “today’s heroes.” Veeck says there are only two “solid” heroes today: Reggie Jackson and Pete Rose.
9:16Copy video clip URL Reggie Jackson clips.
10:06Copy video clip URL Pete Rose clips.
12:00Copy video clip URL Brashler says that Veeck once told him that in order to be a hero, one must take risks. Veeck tells story about Bob Feller, a pitcher who played for Veeck. Feller would take a small salary, in exchange for a large potential bonus. The bonus was based on park attendance, which, of course, was a risky for Feller. Feller went on to become the highest paid player in MLB that’s to his bonus. Veeck says that offered the same deal to Reggie Jackson when Jackson was about to enter free agency. Jackson never responded to Veeck’s offer.
13:19Copy video clip URL Shots of baseball cards with Van Lingle Mungo song entirely comprised of baseball player names by Dave Frishberg.
13:35Copy video clip URL The discussion moves to money. Brashler says that money has changed the game of baseball more than “any one thing.” Brashler and Veeck talk about the reserve clause in baseball contracts, and how the clause prevented players from switching teams (and therefore making more money).
16:15Copy video clip URL Veeck recounts the story of the Curt Flood Supreme Court case, which would have (if Flood won) allowed players to become free agents, and shake the reserve clause, for the first time.
18:25Copy video clip URL Marvin Miller, the head of the players union, talks about the importance of the Flood case.
19:45Copy video clip URL Veeck and Brashler talk about the famous baseball strike of 1981. He talks about how free agency has led to the massive rise in salaries we have seen.
22:37Copy video clip URL Ted Turner, owner of the Atlanta Braves says that the Braves lost 3.5 million dollars last year, an amount that is equal to the player’s salaries.
23:12Copy video clip URL Ray Grebey, the current head of the players union, talks about owners losing money due to payrolls. Bill Veeck says it is not the huge stars’ payrolls that break the bank, it’s the mediocre players’. He says that as salaries rise, owners get “reamed…and creamed.”
24:22Copy video clip URL St Petersburg. Frank Cashman, the GM of the New York Mets, talks about the “high cost of mediocrity.”
25:23Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about the strike of 1981. He says everyone lost out because of that.
27:20Copy video clip URL Ray Grebey talks about the future of baseball salaries, saying the salaries are excessive, and will continue to escalate.
27:54Copy video clip URL Marvin Miller talks about the future of baseball salaries, saying they are not excessive, and will level off.
28:26Copy video clip URL Ray Grebey talks about how owners can survive the increase in player salaries (by reducing number of teams, expand markets, TV income).
30:02Copy video clip URL Turner talks about the use of television in baseball to help make money.
31:03Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about the issue of television and cable.
31:50Copy video clip URL Bill Giles, owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, talks about the relationship between cable and baseball, saying that the future of televised baseball is with cable, not broadcast TV.
32:10Copy video clip URL Frank Cashen talks about cable and baseball, saying that the move to cable will not necessarily change the game.
32:49Copy video clip URL Bill Giles talks further about cable and baseball, saying that cable alone will not save baseball. Giles says that in addition to cable, the Phillies will be raising ticket prices to generate raise revenue.
33:28Copy video clip URL Veeck says there is a limit to the amount you can raise prices, but there is no upper limit for players’ salaries.
34:27Copy video clip URL Turner talks about raising the prices on admission to his soccer team and the team going out of business.
35:23Copy video clip URL Veeck talks about how to remain financially successful as a sports team: by pooling revenues among teams. Brashler asks who has the right to sell TV. Veecks says that the right will be fought over by the players and owners.
36:23Copy video clip URL Marvin Miller talks about television rights, saying players should get the right.
37:02Copy video clip URL Bill Giles talks about television rights, saying the owners should get the right.
37:41Copy video clip URL Frank Cashen talks about baseball ownership is switching from individuals to corporations, and the negative effect that may have.
38:20Copy video clip URL Veeck and Brashler talk about George Steinbrenner. Veeck says he makes other owners looks good. Clips of Steinbrenner.
39:42Copy video clip URL Charles O. Finley sits down with Veeck and Brashler and talks of financial troubles due to player trades. Blames Bowie Kuhn for his troubles. Calls him “the nation’s idiot.” He does not blame the players themselves for the astronomical salaries, but rather the owners.
47:11Copy video clip URL Veeck and Brashler talk about agents. Veeck says that agents have “descended on baseball like a plague of locusts.”
49:23Copy video clip URL Ray Grebey says that he must now deal with agents, rather than just the player’s union.
49:43Copy video clip URL Marvin Miller talks about agents, saying he worries that some agents may not have the clients best interest in mind, or the agent may not be competent. He says the player’s union is coming up with a way to monitor agents to ensure that players will receive competent representation.
51:16Copy video clip URL Bill Giles talks about agents; he agrees with Miller.
51:46Copy video clip URL Ed Farmer, pitcher for the Phillies, talks about agents and salary negotiations, saying agents should do negotiating, not players.
52:20Copy video clip URL Jim Bronner, baseball agent, in the studio. He talks about who he represents and talks about his opinions on re-negotiation. He thinks that players should only renegotiate when the team agrees to it as well (or when it is written into their contract).
54:20Copy video clip URL Veeck and Brashler sum up what was covered during the show.
56:20Copy video clip URL A toy doll whistles “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
56:40Copy video clip URL Veeck does conclusion; saying it is important for us to have an escape and baseball fills that better than anything else he knows.
57:43Copy video clip URL Credits.
58:55Copy video clip URL End of tape.