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April 19, 2012

Biography of Baseball Legend Bill Veeck Is Subject of Book Discussion

Veeck Integrated American League, Among Other Achievements

Bill Veeck was a baseball impresario and an innovator who was also an independent spirit and an unflinching advocate of racial equality. Relying on primary sources, including more than 100 interviews, noted baseball writer Paul Dickson has crafted a richly detailed portrait of this American original.

Dickson will discuss and sign "Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick" (Walker & Co., 2012) on Tuesday, May 1, at noon in the Whittall Pavilion, located on the ground floor of the Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The event, part of the Books & Beyond author series, is sponsored by the Center for the Book. It is free and open to the public; no tickets are required. The Humanities and Social Sciences Division, where Dickson did much of his research, is co-sponsoring the program.

Bill Veeck (1914–1986) was born into baseball. His sportswriter father became president of the Chicago Cubs, and Bill later worked for owner Phil Wrigley, rebuilding Wrigley Field to achieve the famed ambiance that exists today. In his late 20s, he bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. As World War II intensified, Veeck volunteered for combat duty, enduring a leg injury that led to amputation, a lifetime of operations and silent suffering. On returning, he bought the Cleveland Indians in 1946 -- the first of the Midwestern teams he would own, preceding the St. Louis Browns (1951–53) and the Chicago White Sox (twice, 1959–61 and 1975–81).

Though foiled in an earlier plan to bring Negro League players to the majors, in the summer of 1947, Veeck integrated his team on field and off, signing Larry Doby – the American League’s first black player – and hiring the first black public relations officer, trainer and scout. A year later, he signed the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who helped win the 1948 World Series, Cleveland’s last championship to this day. Veeck’s promotional genius was second to none, endearing him to fans in every city, while his feel for the game led him to propose innovations way ahead of their time. Veeck’s deep sense of fairness helped usher in free agency, breaking the stranglehold owners had on players; indeed, he was the only owner to testify in support of Curt Flood during his landmark reserve-clause challenge.

"Bill Veeck" brings fully to life a transformational, visionary figure who spent a lifetime challenging baseball’s and society’s well-entrenched status quo.

Paul Dickson is the author of several notable baseball books, including "The Dickson Baseball Dictionary," "The Unwritten Rules of Baseball," "The Hidden Language of Baseball" and "The Joy of Keeping Score." He is also the author of the classic narrative history "Sputnik: The Shock of the Century" and the co-author of the acclaimed "The Bonus Army: An American Epic." He lives in Garrett Park, Md.

Since its creation by Congress in 1977 to "stimulate public interest in books and reading," the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress (www.Read.gov/cfb/) has become a major national force for reading and literacy promotion. A public-private partnership, it sponsors educational programs that reach readers of all ages, nationally and internationally. The center provides leadership for 52 affiliated state centers for the book (including the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands) and nonprofit reading-promotion partners and plays a key role in the Library’s annual National Book Festival. It also oversees the Library’s www.Read.gov website and administers the Library’s Young Readers Center.

Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. The Library seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.

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PR 12-078
04/19/12
ISSN 0731-3527

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