Napier crouched like an oldtime evangelist and thrust out an accusing arm:
"Gentlemen, you've got to sell your product! This isn't 1903 when people had nowhere to go but the ball park on a summer's afternoon! You've got competition in this modern day when a man can fly to London in the time it takes to play a double-header! Gentlemen! In New York alone last year, there were nearly 2 million fewer paid baseball admissions! This is the handwriting on the wall, men. You can't sit back and wait for some miraculous turning back of the clock, you've got to get out and sell, sell, sell!"
(The writer was unable to obtain any truly coherent account of what followed. His informant, a television actress who was present, tried to take shorthand notes, but she is only a student of this art and her notes were incomplete. However, it appeared that there was a veritable razzle-dazzle of effects: blowups of newspaper and magazine ads flashed on the screen; live excerpts from projected television serial dramas, I Married a Shortstop, scheduled for NBC, and Bullpen Wife, scheduled for CBS. With the Lawrence Welk orchestra supplying alternately rousing and tender musical backgrounds, the presentation whipped up a fever of excitement. There were singing commercials which seemed to consist mostly of "Ooowah, ooowah, baseball, baseball," repeated over and over again. All of the elements of the show built up to a terrific climax that was cut off as abruptly as the opening had burst on the delegates.)
After the curtain had fallen, the great ballroom was in complete darkness for perhaps five seconds. Then a single spotlight picked up Fels Napier at his center stage microphone. Again, amazingly, he was the boyish, lovable character. For the balance of his speech, he was smiling and soft-spoken. (The writer later learned that this was the "soft sell" technique he used for dramatic effect.)
"Gentlemen," he said, "just a word about that last singing commercial, that 'ooowah, ooowah,' thing. Well, to those of you unschooled in advertising and exploitation, it may have sounded like meaningless gibberish. But actually it is a first-rate, thoroughly tested example of the irritant commercial which, repeated often enough, plants itself in the subconscious and has some of the compulsive effects of the subliminal message. This is the kind of thing that sells soap and, I guarantee you, it will sell baseball."
He gazed off into space and swallowed, blinking his eyes as if searching for his next topic.
"Oh, yes," he said, "a word about our new T.O.—our table of organization. I am abolishing the position of league president and creating the new position of managing director to replace it. I will select managing directors from my staff a little later. Messrs. Cronin [Cronin was named to the Harridge post in January 1959] and Giles will now become chairman of the board in their leagues. Congratulations, gentlemen."
The audience sat transfixed as if they were viewing a horror movie.
"I am also appointing," Napier went on, "an assistant to the commissioner in charge of publicity, promotion, exploitation and entertainment. All club publicity men will report directly to this assistant and carry out his instructions for pregame entertainment and so on. We intend to give the fans a real afternoon or evening's show in addition to the usual ball game. I think you will be happy to learn that I have selected as my assistant in this department a great guy, a real baseball man, a former club owner, a fellow who speaks your language, Mr. William Louis Veeck of Cleveland."
Napier paused, apparently expecting applause, but there was not a sound. (Veeck, notorious for his "circus" methods of baseball promotion, is anathema to most club owners.)