Editor's Desk - March 2006
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Winter and Baseball




“The most beautiful thing in the world is a ballpark filled with people.”

—Bill Veeck


True, the man did send a midget up to bat as a publicity stunt. But Bill Veeck also was one of the most tireless—albeit creatively flamboyant—promoters of baseball and the most willing to do anything, ANYTHING to get fans in the stands.

From zany door prizes (a live pig) to outrageous theme nights (Disco Demolition, anyone?), Veeck consistently broke attendance records. Bat Day, exploding scoreboards and player names on the backs of uniforms are just a few of his innovations. He is even allegedly responsible for planting the legendary ivy on Wrigley Field's outfield wall in September 1937.

According to his bio at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Veeck also signed the American League's first black player, Larry Doby in 1947, and its oldest rookie, 43-year-old Satchel Paige in 1948.

Being part-showman and part-businessman is what made Veeck such a successful character as owner of the Indians, Browns and White Sox. Which also makes him a good source of inspiration (within reason) for anyone looking for some imaginative promotional ideas, as is one of our readers below (Help Mom). You may want to check out Veeck's autobiography, Veeck—As In Wreck for more brazen anecdotes. Another helpful read might be Fun Is Good: How to Create Joy & Passion in Your Workplace & Career by Mike Veeck (Bill's son) and Pete Williams, which advocates creating a culture of fun where the best people will want to work and customers will want to spend their money. Can't argue with that strategy.

In addition to a shameless knack for promotion, Bill Veeck also had some great thoughts about recreation in general and baseball specifically:

  • There are only two seasons: Winter and Baseball.
  • I try not to break the rules but merely to test their elasticity.
  • That's the true harbinger of spring, not crocuses or swallows returning to Capistrano, but the sound of a bat on the ball.
  • Baseball is almost the only orderly thing in a very unorderly world. If you get three strikes, even the best lawyer in the world can't get you off.
  • I have discovered in 20 years of moving around a ballpark, that the knowledge of the game is usually in inverse proportion to the price of the seats.
  • This is a game to be savored, not gulped. There's time to discuss everything between pitches or between innings.
  • We can't always guarantee the ball game is going to be good, but we can guarantee the fan will have fun.

Thanks, Bill. After all, fun is what it's all about.

Best,

Jenny E. Beeh
Editor


Major Crisis Management and Minor League Ideas

Feel free to drop us a line. Any feedback is great; establishing an industry forum for the open exchange of ideas is even better. So don't be shy with your thoughts, opinions and questions. Any topic is fair game, and no query is too big or too little.

Camp Wilma: Compassion in a Time of Crisis

The fall of 2005 proved to be a difficult semester for people living in tropical climates with the record-breaking number of hurricanes that appeared on the radar from August to November. However, for South Florida residents, life must go on, and hurricane season simply means preparation and sometimes thinking on your feet.

On Oct. 19, 2005, Hurricane Wilma bore down on South Florida leaving a wake of destruction in its path. Even though local schools were closed for one week, businesses slowly started to open in the days following its landfall at which point the University of Miami's Wellness and Recreation Center stepped up to the plate. By keeping all operations open and available, the Wellness Center went above and beyond in serving the UM community by providing showers for individuals still without power and a place to release stress for all.

In addition, with just one day's notice, the Wellness Center professional and student staff organized a free daycare/camp for all university faculty and staff children from ages 6 to 12. The kids were welcomed into a safe and powered environment where they were supplied with activities and food while their parents were at work. With the help and enthusiasm of the professional staff and students, kids participated in games such as dodge ball, floor hockey, soccer, duck-duck-goose, and even arts and crafts activities. More than 105 kids attended the last-minute program, which proved to be a successful venture for all involved.

The week also was leading up to the highly anticipated Virginia Tech-Miami game that still was to be held in the Orange Bowl despite the hurricane. In light of the event, Head Coach Larry Coker took time from his busy schedule to meet with the kids and allowed them to view a special closed practice prior to the Saturday game. The kids even helped Sebastian, the mascot, ring in his 50th birthday as it was originally intended for the 2005 Homecoming festivities that were unfortunately cancelled.

The University of Miami Wellness Center staff brilliantly showed their capabilities and compassion as an organization during a time of crisis and are an excellent example of what a well-run institution is capable of in a time of need. During a stressful and difficult time for all of South Florida, the University of Miami was able to offer a safe and relaxing environment for all of its patrons and works to provide the same hospitality all year long regardless of the circumstances.

Written by Kristina Joss, public relations intern for the Wellness Center at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla., and submitted by Rhonda R. DuBord, associate director of the department of wellness and recreation,
rrdubord@miami.edu.

Help Mom

I'm doing some legwork (Googlework?) for my son who has just taken a job as an intern for the season with a minor-league baseball team and anticipates being overwhelmed. I found you on the Web through the Not So Minor Attractions story [March 2002, recmanagement.com/200203fe04.php]. I'm impressed by your magazine. Really. (And I'm a journalist/author too). What I'm trying to find, without visiting 160 minor-league baseball sites, is a variety of contests/post-game activities for fans, adult and child.

Since you folks are in the middle of all of that I wondered if you had any suggestions, references to Web sites, literature that addressed that subject? Thanks for any info. I made a note of at least six stories I'm going to tell him (politely) I think he might like...Thank you for having the archive online.

Katy Tahja
ktahja@mcn.org
Editor's Note: Feel free to send Katy some suggestions.