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ANOTHER WRECK NAMED VEECK
Dave Scheiber
July 09, 1990
It's the bottom of the sixth inning on a recent Tuesday in municipal Stadium, home of the Miracle, an independent Class A team based in Pompano Beach, Fla. Jericho, a golden retriever, is ambling onto the diamond. He's wearing a Miracle jersey and cap, and toting Gatorade and towels to the umps. In the rightfield stands, a local beautician is snipping the hair of a customer seated in a barber chair. Out in centerfield, the game's celebrity look-alike is about to appear. Will it be Zsa Zsa Gabor or Charlie Chaplin this time?
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July 09, 1990

Another Wreck Named Veeck

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It's the bottom of the sixth inning on a recent Tuesday in municipal Stadium, home of the Miracle, an independent Class A team based in Pompano Beach, Fla. Jericho, a golden retriever, is ambling onto the diamond. He's wearing a Miracle jersey and cap, and toting Gatorade and towels to the umps. In the rightfield stands, a local beautician is snipping the hair of a customer seated in a barber chair. Out in centerfield, the game's celebrity look-alike is about to appear. Will it be Zsa Zsa Gabor or Charlie Chaplin this time?

Small wonder nobody in the stands seems to mind that the Miracle is on its way to its 56th defeat in 72 games. On a club that has singer Jimmy Buffett and actor Bill Murray as minority owners, it's not surprising that offbeat happenings are part of the regular package. However, it's not those stars but a less renowned, if familiarly named, fellow who has worked the promotional miracle.

After barely five months on the job as Miracle president, Mike Veeck, 39, has improved the team's average home attendance from 40 per game in 1989 to this season's 500, a respectable figure for the Florida State League. In the process, Veeck has rekindled memories of his father, Bill, who was a baseball Barnum as owner, at one time or another, of the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns and Chicago White Sox. Exploding scoreboards, bat days and a 3'7" midget batter named Eddie Gaedel—they were just part of the legacy that Bill Veeck left when he died, in 1986. "He had this tremendous sense of the absurd, and he gave that to me," says Mike.

Veeck started out as a singer in a rock 'n' roll band after graduating from Loyola College in Baltimore, in 1972, but four years later he took a job with his father in the White Sox business office. While with Chicago, Mike's reputation was tarnished by one ill-fated promotion: Disco Demolition Night. To mark the end of disco music in 1979, Veeck let anybody with a disco album into Comiskey Park for 98 cents. The records were dynamited on the field between games of a White Sox-Tigers doubleheader, igniting a stampede of rowdy fans onto the diamond and forcing Chicago to forfeit the nightcap.

A year later, Veeck left baseball for a marketing career. But he leaped at the chance to return to the game in February. So far, his promotional stunts have included Babes in Toyland Night (during which kids pick two toys apiece from 1,000 spread across the outfield grass) and the Blue Review (in which three obnoxious season-ticket holders receive flash-card ratings from fans who judge their insults of umpires and opponents). And when one such event ends, Veeck often works well into the night, conjuring up that next Miracle gag. For guys named Veeck, it's always show time.

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