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'Saint of Second Chances' star speaks at chamber

Moultrie News November 21, 2023

The year was 1979. The White Sox were up to bat against the Detroit Tigers in a doubleheader. The second game would never be played, however, as the first culminated in a riot. The target of rage from the thousands of fans that stormed the field at Comiskey Park? Disco.

Disco Demolition Night would live on in infamy as the nearly career-ending brainchild of Michael Veeck, who is now president of the Goldklang Baseball Group and owner of the Charleston RiverDogs.

Avid Netflix viewers may recognize Veeck’s name from the recent documentary on the man and his father, Bill Veeck, titled The Saint of Second Chances. The family line is credited for turning baseball games into the entertaining spectacles they are today.

Veeck’s shoot-for-the-moon attitude was hard to miss at the Nov. 17 Mount Pleasant Chamber of Commerce luncheon. He regaled members with some of his fondest, funniest memories from his decades-long career in baseball, balanced out with some of his biggest fails.

RiverDogs games are known for promotional theme nights and silly on-field activities in between plays. Not all of them have been met with open arms, Veeck said. One such night was a “superstition night,” inspired by the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. Slated for a Friday the 13th home game, Veeck said they pulled out all the stops: ladders to walk under, umbrellas to open doors. The catch came when that fateful Friday coincided with a religious holiday — Good Friday.

“It’s funny if you do voodoo and you do it on Friday the 13th. What’s not funny is if it happens to be Good Friday,” Veeck said. “It was really uncomfortable. This is kind of the way I would put it.

The story is bookended with laughter from Veeck, who doesn’t dwell on his mistakes. The self-described serial small business operator — he recently became part-owner of a soccer team in Ireland — is an advocate for big ideas, no matter how unusual or unorthodox.

“We need joy. We need to laugh,” Veeck said. “I’m living proof, the more you fail, the more interesting it is.”

The next time you’re at The Joe — Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park that is — enjoying a mascot race or covering the stadium in toilet paper (yes, that actually happened — twice), you’ll know who to thank.

Get the Cash You Need With TitleMaxVeeck highlighted a record-breaking RiverDogs game: the lowest-attended game in baseball. The stands were empty and the gates were locked. “Nobody Night,” in Veeck’s book, it was a success.“The people were on ladders. People covered this from all over the country. My favorite was the vendors going around vending beer to no one. I mean, it was really kind of existential and it got a lot of attention. We did set the record for zero,” Veeck said.

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