Paul Dickson, author of more than 60 books and hundreds of magazine articles, joins my MTL Washington Update radio program June 14 to discuss his latest book, Bill Veeck: Baseball's Greatest Maverick.
Relying on primary sources that include more than a hundred interviews, Dickson has crafted a richly detailed portrait of Veeck, aptly described by Dickson as "an American original: baseball impresario and innovator, independent spirit and unflinching advocate of racial equality."
Our other guest will be former 2012 Presidential candidate and Louisiana Gov. Buddy Roemer, who will describe his next steps in his government reform campaign now that he has ended his Presidential quest and returned to his banking business.
Dickson, at left, is a good friend of mine and a world-class raconteur who held a National Press Club audience spellbound earlier this spring in describing his book research. Here is a synopsis of the book, long awaited in sports circles as the unique biography of arguably the most important sports team owner in U.S. history:
Veeck (1914–1986) was born into baseball. His sportswriter father became president of the Chicago Cubs, and Bill later worked for owner Phil Wrigley, rebuilding Wrigley Field to achieve the famed ambiance that exists today. In his late twenties, he bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. As World War II intensified, Veeck volunteered for combat duty, enduring a leg injury that led to a lifetime of amputations and silent suffering. On returning, he bought the Cleveland Indians in 1946—the first of four Midwestern teams he would own, preceding the hapless St. Louis Browns (1951–53) and the Chicago White Sox (twice, 1959–61 and 1975–81).
Though foiled in an earlier plan to bring Negro League players to the majors, in the summer of 1947, Veeck integrated his team on field and off, signing Larry Doby, the American League’s first black player, and hiring the first black public relations officer, trainer, and scout. A year later, he signed the legendary black pitcher Satchel Paige, who helped win the 1948 World Series—Cleveland’s last championship to this day. His promotional genius was second to none, endearing him to fans in every city, while his feel for the game led him to propose innovations way ahead of their time. Veeck’s deep sense of fairness helped usher in free agency, breaking the stranglehold owners had on players; indeed, he was the only owner to testify in support of Curt Flood during his landmark reserve clause challenge.
Bill Veeck brings fully to life a transformational, visionary figure who spent a lifetime challenging baseball’s and society’s well-entrenched status quo. It is essential reading for any fan and anyone with a fascination for twentieth-century America. Dickson has written on a variety of subjects, from ice cream to kite flying to electronic warfare. He now concentrates on writing about the American language, baseball and 20th century history. His most recent titles include Drunk: The Definitive Drinker's Dictionary, The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, Sputnik: The Shock of the Century and Slang: A Topical Dictionary of Americanisms.
Related News Coverage
National Press Club, NPC's own 'Mr. Baseball' Paul Dickson hits home run at Book Rap, Joseph Luchok, April 25, 2012. National Press Club member Paul Dickson spoke about his new book, Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick, to a very appreciative audience at the Press Club on April 24. Like Veeck, he is doing everything he can with his clothes on to sell the book, Dickson said. This is Dickson's first biography and writing it was very different from other types of books because getting too far into the person can destroy the person, he said. Veeck is a fascinating person and Dickson had to deconstruct him to write about him, he added. Veeck was a master of innovation and a fountain of ideas, some of which worked and some of which failed, Dickson said. Although best known for promotions like giving away livestock, Disco Demolition Night, or having a nylon giveaway night right after World War I, when nylons were scarce, Veeck also made lasting impact on baseball. Veeck integrated the American League when he signed Larry Doby. He was asked by the National League to prepare the West Coast for baseball. His work was a key element enabling the National League to place teams in Los Angeles and San Francisco before the American League could get teams to the coast.
Justice Integrity Project, Former Louisiana Gov. Roemer Reveals Next Reform Steps June 14 on 'DC Update,' Andrew Kreig, June 13, 2012. Presidential candidate Buddy Roemer will speak June 14 on my Washington Update radio show about his next steps fighting for political reform following his just-ended, 17-month campaign. The two-term former Louisiana governor waged an energetic campaign in the GOP primary and then for a third-party Americans Elect nomination on a platform of radical reform of corruption blighting civic affairs. In advance, Roemer commented, "We were not included in a single one of the 23 nationally televised GOP debates, and yet received 7% of the popular vote in a national poll conducted just a few weeks ago." But politician-turn-banker he has vowed to continue fighting for reform even after returning to the successful bank he leads.
Catching Our Attention
Reuters, What happens to Tribune after bankruptcy? Jack Shafer, June 11, 2012. Choking softly on the wad of debt “rescuer” Sam Zell fed it, Tribune Co checked into a Wilmington, Delaware, bankruptcy court at the end of 2008. Now newly slimmed, especially after the payment of $410 million in legal and other professional fees, the much diminished patient is about to be released and turned over to its new owners, a group of banks and hedge funds. How diminished? At the time Zell acquired control in 2007, Tribune Co’s newspapers, television stations, other media properties and Chicago Cubs baseball franchise were valued at $8.2 billion. Reporting from court filings, Chicago Tribune reporter Michael Oneal put Tribune Co’s current value at about $4.5 billion. That’s not a haircut. That’s a beheading. Some of that loss in value represents the sale (for $845 million) of Tribune’s Chicago Cubs operation in 2009, but still.
BBC, Supreme court dismisses Assange appeal bid, June 14, 2012. The Supreme Court has dismissed a bid by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to reopen his appeal against extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes. Seven judges of Britain's top court unanimously dismissed the move by Mr Assange as being "without merit." Two weeks ago the court rejected his argument that a European arrest warrant for extradition was invalid. His lawyers had argued that the decision was based on a legal point that had not been argued in court. Swedish prosecutors want to question Mr Assange over allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two female former Wikileaks volunteers in mid-2010 but have not filed any charges. Mr Assange, whose WikiLeaks website has published a mass of leaked diplomatic cables that embarrassed several governments and international businesses, claims the sex was consensual and that the allegations against him are politically motivated.
CNN, Feds drop remaining Edwards charges, Staff report, June 13, 2012. Federal prosecutors dropped the remaining charges against former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards on Wednesday, less than two weeks after his corruption trial ended in an acquittal and mistrial. The Justice Department had accused Edwards of using nearly $1 million in illegal campaign contributions to keep his pregnant mistress under wraps as he mounted a second presidential bid in 2008. But after more than 50 hours of deliberation, a North Carolina jury acquitted him on one of the six counts against him and deadlocked on the other five. Lanny Breuer, the head of the Justice Department's criminal division, said prosecutors respect the judgment of the jury and would not bring the case to trial again. Jurors wanted to hear from John Edwards John Edwards to launch new project "We knew that this case -- like all campaign finance cases -- would be challenging," Breuer said in a written statement on the decision. "But it is our duty to bring hard cases when we believe that the facts and the law support charging a candidate for high office with a crime."
StarTribune, Petters consultant in N.Y. is target of $804,000 clawback, David Phelps, June 12, 2012. Bankruptcy trustee alleges that attorney Paul Traub was paid to help Tom Petters attract investors to a $3.65 billion Ponzi scheme. Paul Traub was named in a lawsuit filed late last week in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis seeking to recover $804,000 that he allegedly received from Petters for providing "consulting services in assessment of new business opportunities" and "the capital needs of the [Petters] organization." The suit is the latest of more than 200 lawsuits filed on behalf of the Petters corporate bankruptcy estate by trustee Doug Kelley seeking to "claw back" ill-gotten gains from the decade-long fraud. Kelley also is the federal receiver for Petters' personal estate, which launched the Traub complaint. Kelley also is seeking another $1.65 million from Traub that he received from Petters Group Worldwide in a separate bankruptcy lawsuit. In the most recent suit, Kelley alleges that Traub was one of a number of individuals Petters used to "create the essential air of success and wealth required to sustain the fraud as well as the expertise to maintain it." The lawsuit says Traub was paid "an astonishing" $125,000 a month as a consultant to Petters and received $2.46 million "directly, and sometimes secretly" from 2005 to 2008. "In essence, Traub gave Petters business credibility and access to new potential victims for his fraudulent schemes," the lawsuit states.
Twin Cities Business, Long Arm of the Claw, David Beal, January 2011. The 202 lawsuits filed as of October 10, 2010. As the trustee in the Petters bankruptcy, Doug Kelley has filed clawbacks against four target groups: investors, employees of Petters entities who got bonuses, charities, and banks. The four largest claims for interest from investors account for 56 percent of the $1.397 billion in interest he is seeking from inves tors. The $233 million that Kelley has recovered for creditors as of December 9 includes $120 million from the sale of Polaroid (a former Petters holding) and its related assets. At about the same time he was helping Petters "leverage his Rolodex to create new opportunities," according to the suit, Traub was a partner in the bankruptcy and reorganization firm Traub, Bonacquist & Fox, which ran into controversy in its representation of creditors in the eToys.com bankruptcy amid conflict-of-interest claims.
Salon, Leon Panetta: Macho Renaissance man, Glenn Greenwald, June 11, 2012. Last night, 60 Minutes aired a profile by Scott Pelley of Obama’s Defense Secretary and former CIA chief Leon Panetta that is reverent as anything you’ll see, as pure as propaganda gets (the video of the full segment is below). Panetta is a top government official presiding over some of the most violent, legally dubious, controversial military and intelligence policies in the world, but there wasn’t a single word uttered about any of that. It was, instead, 13 uninterrupted minutes of drooling propaganda: Leon Panetta, (left) the tough-minded, patriotic renaissance man who kills Evil Men to protect us all, and does it all with a heart of gold. Pelley began by noting that Panetta, despite never having worked in intelligence before becoming CIA Director, “put a Navy SEAL in bin Laden’s bedroom.”
British Broadcasting Corp., World cools towards Barack Obama – survey; Confidence in Barack Obama is still high in Europe but has dropped in China and Japan, Staff report, June 13, 2012. International approval of US President Barack Obama's foreign policy has dropped sharply during his term in office, a Pew Research survey suggests. Among the 21 countries surveyed, the largest drop in approval -- from 57% to 27% -- was seen in China, the Global Attitudes Project reveals. Most respondents in almost all countries opposed US drone strikes. Despite these numbers, confidence in Mr. Obama remains high among US allies, especially in Europe. "I think where you see the real disappointment is when you deal with specific policies," said Richard Wike, associate director of the Pew Global Attitudes Project. He added that the survey showed big gaps between expectation levels and action over Mr. Obama's policies on climate change and treatment of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Wired / Danger Room, US Military Wants Drones in South America, But Why? Spencer Ackerman, June 12, 2012. Flying, spying robots are addictive. Every military commander who has them wants more. Those who don’t have them covet their colleagues’ supply. And according to Air Force planning, they’re about to go to the military’s redheaded, drone-poor stepchild: the command overseeing South America. That’s according to Gen. Norton Schwartz, the outgoing Air Force chief of staff. As Predator, Reaper and Global Hawk drones start to leave the Afghanistan war behind, Schwartz told a Washington audience on Monday, they’ll go to “operational missions by previously under-served” regional commands — Pacific Command and Southern Command, per National Defense magazine. While US forces in the Middle East and Central Asia have loaded up on drones, they’ve largely been left out of the unmanned escalation. But South America? The list of obvious uses for drones by the US military in South America starts with spying on drug-runners … and ends there. (In case you’re wondering, US Southern Command doesn’t have anything to do with Mexico and its cartel chaos; that’s the province of US Northern Command.)
Associated Press / NOLA.com, Federal judge seeks records related to Danziger Bridge leaks probe, Staff report, June 12, 2012. A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Justice Department to turn over any documents that show it tried to determine whether somebody leaked confidential information about its probe of deadly police shootings on the Danziger Bridge in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Attorneys for five former police officers convicted of charges stemming from the shootings claim prosecutors ignored a different judge's call for an investigation after news reports in 2010 forecast a guilty plea by former Lt. Michael Lohman. The case against Lohman, who cooperated with investigators, was under seal at the time the reports were published. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt set a Tuesday afternoon deadline for prosecutors to give him any records related to a probe of the alleged leaks.
WWL-TV (New Orleans), Judge trying to determine who leaked info in Danziger case, Staff report, June 13, 2012. A federal judge said he is determined to find out who leaked information in the Justice Department investigation of the Danziger Bridge shootings. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt said it appears federal prosecutors did not conduct a full investigation after news reports in 2010 predicted a former NOPD officer's guilty plea while the case was still under seal. Attorneys for five former New Orleans police officers convicted in the case contend the leaks deprived their clients of a fair trial and they're requesting a new one.