Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"Veeck Begins Shopping", 1944

On this day in 1944, minor league baseball's annual winter meeting was wrapping up in Buffalo, New York. And the Brewers' president Bill Veeck was there with Nick Cullop, his new manager.

"Just like old times," explained Pvt. Bill Veeck, president of the Milwaukee Brewers as he took advantage of a leave to attend the minor league convention in Buffalo. With him is his new manager, Nick Cullop. Veeck is seeking to strengthen his outfield.
As the caption notes, Veeck was on a 30-day leave from the Marine Corps, after being severely wounded in action in the South Pacific. He had been released from the naval hospital in Corona, California just a few days before.

From his hospital bed, Cullop had just weeks before been hired away from Columbus. He had been the Red Birds' skipper when they clobbered the Brews 18-0 in the 1944 All-Star Game, and Veeck had long admired the way he handled his players.

For his own part, Cullop was amazed at the speed with which his new boss worked. He told the Sporting News:
"I've never seen a guy do business like Veeck. I'm not used to seeing a club president spend money so freely. I heard a lot about him while I managed at Columbus, but man, you have to be around Veeck to believe what you've heard and read about him. He's a big leaguer in the double-A circuit."
This is particularly impressive considering how much trouble he was having even walking. The wounds in his leg had not yet healed, and in fact Veeck would return to Corona on New Year's Eve for further treatment.

Paul Dickson, in his excellent book Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick, tells us about the next stop on Veeck's winter tour:
Veeck next traveled to New York City for the Major League Winter Meetings beginning on December 12 to see and be seen. Writing about him in the New York Times, Arthur Dailey described Veeck as easily the "most striking" figure at the gathering. "Young Bill leaned on his cane, his face lined and drawn, but the usual cheery smile on his lips. Veeck joked that due to a pay glitch, he had only received $40 from the Marines so far, so he took the money and blew it at Toots Shor's.
Veeck was indeed able to secure some help for his outfield, laying the foundation for the deal that would eventually send the Buffalo Bisons' power slugger Ed "Shovels" Kobesky to Borchert Field. That deal is a story in itself, a story for another time.

No comments:

Post a Comment