The Baseball Reliquary presents “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick,” a major exhibition on the life and times of one of the most influential figures in baseball history, from April 9-May 24 at the Arcadia Public Library, 20 W. Duarte Rd., Arcadia, Calif.
The exhibition is based on Paul Dickson’s book, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick, the first major biography on this American original, which will be published in April 2012.
The exhibition will utilize photographs, artworks, artifacts and documents to illustrate key elements of Dickson’s original research. Much of the signage is excerpted from the book. The displays will include nearly 100 photographs encompassing the extraordinary career of Bill Veeck. Many of the images have rarely, if ever, been shown publicly.
While the tendency today is to remember Bill Veeck (1914-86) as baseball’s most eccentric showman – the man who sent a midget to the plate for the St. Louis Browns and who was responsible for the infamous Disco Demolition Night – he was much, much more. As this exhibition will show, Veeck was a transformational figure in the history of baseball. A nonconformist and visionary, he spent a lifetime challenging baseball’s and society’s well-entrenched status quo.
As a four-time major-league team owner, Veeck brought change to both the business and conscience of baseball. He was a prime mover in the racial integration of the game, both on the field and in the front office. As owner of the Cleveland Indians, he was the first to integrate the American League when he signed Larry Doby in 1947, 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson debuted in the National League.
Veeck’s combination of financial creativity and marketing genius was unlike anything else in the history of sports. He pioneered new ways to treat baseball as a successful business, and his wildly innovative marketing techniques drew in so many fans that he set records for ballpark attendance. In 1986, Hank Greenberg, Veeck’s close friend, told the New York Times, “Bill brought baseball into the 20th century. Before Bill, baseball was just winning or losing. But he made it fun to be at the ballpark.”
Bill Veeck delighted in being everyman’s owner, and today’s game reflects much of what he fought for. “His influence is everywhere,” noted baseball executive Andy MacPhail in a 2009 interview. “All those activities going on at the modern ballpark outside the white lines can in some way be traced back to Veeck.” Veeck was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991 and the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals in 1999.
Library hours for the exhibition are Monday-Thursday, 10-9 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10-6 p.m.; closed Sunday. For further information, contact the Baseball Reliquary by phone at (626) 791-7647 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. For directions, phone the Arcadia Public Library at (626) 821-5567 during library hours.
The exhibition, which is free of charge, is made possible, in part, by a grant to the Baseball Reliquary from the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.
In conjunction with the exhibition, the Baseball Reliquary presents “VeeckFest” on May 19 from 1-5 p.m., at the Arcadia Public Library Auditorium. The event will include a film screening, book signing and panel discussion featuring, among others, Paul Dickson (author of Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick), John Schulian, Ron Rapoport and Ken Solarz. Further details on this free event will be forthcoming.