Following heart is key for Veeck
It’s rare to find a person who has been fired by his or her own father. Even fewer have caused a riot. For Mike Veeck one of those events cause the other. During his Sept. 14 visit he told Lindenwood University students both experiences were caused by observing his number one rule: following your heart.
Veeck spent time in the front office of four Major Leage Baseball teams including the Chicago White Sox, Miami Marlins, Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays.
Disco Demolition Day at the White Sox’s Comiskey Park featured 98 cent tickets to watch a double header and the
destruction of disco albums. Ten thousands fans rushed the field between games and Veeck was fired the next day.
After being let go by four Major League teams Veeck ventured into minor league baseball. He owns a portion of six teams. He is also the executive advisor to the chairman for the Goldklang Group which handles marketing and promotions for four of his teams.
Failure did not deter Veeck, because he knew he had to keep doing what his heart told him.
“If you love it you will be great at it,” Veeck said. “Eighty percent of what we accomplish in a day we accomplish in 20 percent of the time. You know why? Because we love what we do. We pick the things that we love first.”
The St. Paul Saints are one of the six minor league teams Veeck owns. Their ballpark is located seven miles from Target Field were MLB’s Minnesota Twins play.
Veeck and his wife began the franchise in 1993 with $400,000. Veeck said his franchise is now worth millions. The Saints are in the process of building a new $35 million dollar stadium. Twenty-five million dollars of the stadium budget is being provided by taxpayers.
The Saints have a 99 percent occupancy rate, and Veeck said the team will not raise its $5 ticket prices once moving to the new ballpark. Food will stay the same as well. Hot dogs will remain $2.50 and beer will be $3.50. Veeck said he would rather have a full stadium than higher prices.
The Veecks have been taking a different approach in baseball for generations. In the past the Veeck family has held ownership in the Chicago White Sox as well as the St. Louis Browns and Cleveland Indians.
As president of the Chicago Cubs, it was Veeck’s grandfather William Veeck Sr., who decided to grow ivy up Wrigley Field’s brick walls. Bill Veeck, Mike’s father, sent a midget to bat for the Browns causing MLB to outlaw little people. Bill Veeck also signed Larry Doby who became the first African American to play in the American League.
Veeck said his family’s innovative attitude has made him a successful business man. This ideology is shown in Veeck’s staff.
“I hired ten of the best people I could find, not one of whom had baseball experience, to start the St. Paul Saints,” Veeck said. “I didn’t want anyone who had preconceived notions about what would work and what wouldn’t work. The only requirement was people had to be passionate.”
The teams Veeck owns have given out promotional items which are controversial.
During the last 20 years the Saints have given out a Michael Vick dog chew toy, Anthony Wiener Tweeting boxer shorts and a bobble foot doll of senator Larry Craig after he solicited gay sex in a Minneapolis airport bathroom.
“The accountants tell me, ‘Quantify fun. You can’t do it. You can not quantify fun,’ ” Veeck said. “I go, ‘Yes I can.’ ”