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The Sorcerer's Apprentice
GARY SMITH
August 01, 2005
Mike Veeck, the wizard of the minor leagues, has passed on his love of baseball and penchant for comic spectacle to his teenage daughter, REBECCA. She has taught him a few things too.
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August 01, 2005

The Sorcerer's Apprentice

Mike Veeck, the wizard of the minor leagues, has passed on his love of baseball and penchant for comic spectacle to his teenage daughter, REBECCA. She has taught him a few things too.

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Her first baseball job, before turning two, is team greeter. Rebecca squeaks the same salute, 16 or 17 per customer, to everyone entering the St. Paul Saints' front office:

Hi!

Hi!

Hi!

She collapses from hospitality prostration in Libby's arms in the seventh inning each night in the stands behind third base. By age four she's a ballpark rat, darting from bleachers to concession stands to broadcasting booth to gift shop to jump castle to groundskeeper's tractor to her pal in the stands behind home plate, Saints fan Peter Boehm, who reads books to her between innings. She and the team's mascot, a pig, deliver baseballs to the home plate umpire wearing matching tutus, clown suits or rabbit ears. "Oh, it's embarrassing," she'll concede, "but it's baseball. So it's O.K." She and the pig take between-innings spins across the field on a remote-controlled motorcycle. She's slapped with a three-game suspension by her father for excessive waving to the crowd. She dresses up in a miniature San Diego Chicken costume when the real Chicken shows up, follows him across the field, and right on cue, lifts her leg and pretends to pee on the ump, bringing down the house.

By age six she's answering the front-office phone. "St. Paul Saints, Rebecca speaking, how may I help you?"

"How old are you, Miss?" a caller grouses. "Aren't there laws against child labor?"

"Oh, well," she replies, "I'm doing what I love!"

She fits right into the menagerie that Mike assembles on the Saints, the second minor league team that the Goldklang Group--Marvin, Van Schley, actor Bill Murray and singer Jimmy Buffett--asks him to run. There's Darryl Strawberry, recovering from drug addiction; J.D. Drew, baseball's No. 2 draft pick, recovering from a ruptured negotiation with the Philadelphia Phillies; Ila Borders, the first female pitcher in pro baseball history; Dave Stevens, the second baseman in training camp with no legs; Don Wardlow, the radio color man with no eyes; Sister Roz, the nun who gives fans massages on the dugout roof; Rebecca, the radiant urchin ... and Mike himself, walking to centerfield when the ballpark's empty, asking his dad for advice.

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