Bill Veeck’s Saloon

This tape features the pilot for "Bill Veeck's Saloon," shot at O'Sullivan's, at 495 N Milwaukee, Chicago, IL. Veeck speaks with a number of sports journalists and friends about the inflation of players' salaries in modern day baseball and the re-negotiations of baseball contracts. It is quite an interesting look at the inner workings of the game.

00:00Copy video clip URL This tape begins with a black screen and color bars.

00:44Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of Bill Veeck at a saloon. With a beer at his hands, Veeck casually talks about his many endeavors in the sporting world over the years. He highlights the content that will be featured on the show. “We’re gonna talk about sports. You know, not really the kind of sports that you get on the scores and so on, but really the flavor and the color and the nuances. Maybe we’ll even come up with a few things you hadn’t thought about and some things I wish I hadn’t thought about. But I’m going to try to recreate the fun and pleasure I’ve had in more than five decades in the larceny of athletics. In playing games and enjoying every second of it because I never was able to find another way in which I could get paid for doing exactly what I like to do all the time.”

02:21Copy video clip URL Cut to the opening credits. Veeck and friends can be seen having a few drinks in the background.

02:45Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of Bill Veeck with a group of friends talking about the difference between the athletes of the past and the athletes of today. The men discuss their thoughts on the subject and how greed is affecting the sporting world. It is a slightly heated debate. They also talk about MLB player Reggie Jackson and his future with the New York Yankees. Veeck refers to Jackson as a friend and says that he’s smarter than Yankees’ longtime owner George Steinbrenner. Veeck and company also compare and contrast Reggie Jackson to Pete Rose, specifically when it comes to the attendance draw of each player. Veeck commands the conversation with his vast knowledge of the game. The five men continue to debate over the caliber of baseball’s modern day athletes.

10:00Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of Veeck and company sitting down with Chicago sports writer Bill Brashler. The men discuss Cincinnati Reds Catcher Johnny Bench and reasons for rationing his playing time in hopes of quelling the development of knee problems. At one point, Brashler refers to Veeck as a cripple and Veeck proceeds to lift up his wooden leg to show the camera. Veeck refers to Bench as “not a thinker.” Veeck also talks about the other side of the debate, citing the oddity in rationing playing time when Bench is making seven hundred thousand dollars a year. The men go on to discuss the idea of owners renegotiating players’ contracts.

19:09Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of Veeck and Mike Leiderman in the sports section at Powell’s Books in Chicago. The two mull over a couple of the older sports books at the store. This lasts for several minutes.

22:52Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of a television at the saloon that is replaying the 1959 World Series. Veeck and crew sit and watch the vintage footage before talking about Chicago White Sox players Nelson Fox and Luis Aparicio and their possible inductions into the Hall of Fame. Veeck welcomes journalist Jerome Holtzman into the conversation. Holtzman does not believe Fox should be in the Hall of Fame before Aparicio. Veeck talks about the dedication and desire of Nelson Fox, despite being just an average player. The men highlight their views on the players’ abilities. Veeck makes a great point about baseball being an average man’s game. “What you’re saying is it’s the only game left for humans. To play basketball today you have to be seven foot six. To play football today you have to be the same width. So this is the only game for people: baseball.”

30:45Copy video clip URL Fade into a shot of Veeck at the saloon. Veeck does a quick summary of the show and gives a bit of a lesson about the subject matter discussed during the program. This is followed by the ending credits.

32:59Copy video clip URL Tape ends.


1 Comment

  1. tom weinberg says:

    We recorded this at an Irish bar on Grand, Milwaukee and Halsted on a freezing spring day in Chicago.
    It was typical vintage Bill Veeck, having great fun and giving it to all who were around. . Yes, as you can tell, we were drinking
    real beer for hours, Bill’s favorite way to spend an afternoon. This was never broadcast, but it was reincarnated three years later
    as a featured segment on Time Out, the weekly sports saloon broadcast we produced on WTTW/11 in Chicago. Bill did his commentaries
    at the back of the bar with “Waldo” (Roger Wallenstein) serving the beer and conversation. The series won two local Emmy awards.
    To see a half hour of Bill’s commentaries, you can go to

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