The Saint of Second Chances (2023) Movie Script

[MAN] When I was eight and a half,
I went to Comiskey Park.
And I was holding hands with my father.
And somebody told me
that my dad ran the Chicago White Sox.
And I thought that was so cool
that he had this playground
where guys played baseball.
But mostly, now what I remember
is holding his hand.
Like to tell you about my baby
You know she comes around
She about five feet four
[JEFF DANIELS] This is the true story
of a family of baseball hustlers.
It's a story about fathers and sons,
and fathers and daughters.
You know, the complicated stuff.
Now we're going to spend a lot of time
talking about the infamous Bill Veeck.
But the real hero of our story
is his son, Mike,
a guy who struggled to be a good son
and accidentally became a great dad.
[MIKE] Where do we even start?
It's just kind of a weird story.
[DANIELS] Let's start at the bottom.
Florida in the '80s.
Mike Veeck had lost everything
that mattered to him.
She comes around here
[DANIELS] There was a time
when the Veeck name
used to mean something.
His father, Bill, was the peg-legged owner
of a string of teams,
including the Chicago White Sox.
He had the audacity to believe
that baseball wasn't about winning
or losing or even money.
It was about something more.
We have never sold a game
as the most delightful way
to spend an afternoon or an evening.
[DANIELS] Bill wasn't just another owner.
Bill changed baseball.
And Mike, in trying to prove himself,
blew it all up.
[MAN CHANTING] Disco sucks!
Disco sucks!
[DANIELS] You know, Bill had a saying.
That at the end of nine innings,
you know who won, you know who lost.
But most importantly,
you get to start all over the next day.
I'm gonna shout it all night
I'm gonna shout it every day
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Looks so good
[INTERVIEWER] Let's go back
to when you were starting out.
How much were you trying to get away
from your father's shadow?
How much?
I don't know. Maybe 140%. I mean...
I wanted nothing to do with...
With the... You know, what had
already become the legendary stories.
And it wasn't that I didn't admire
my father or love my father.
I just wanted no part
of that constant comparison.
There seemed to be no way
that you could win.
It's 1975, and baseball's for losers.
[DANIELS] Mike was doing anything he could
to get away from Bill's shadow.
[MIKE] He would show up
every once in a while
at places where we'd play.
[DIRECTOR] How would you feel
about playing your dad in this movie?
I'm not cutting off my leg. Period.
When he goes, "Let's have lunch,"
that was a euphemism in our house
for "Let's go drink beer."
We drank a lot of beer.
And I don't know, a scant 11 hours later,
he said to me, "I'm gonna go to Chicago,
and I'm gonna buy the White Sox."
"And I'd love you to come."
And I was flabbergasted.
I was, like, just blown away.
I can see him pick up the flute
right across the table from me,
in between beers,
and start to play this music.
...I don't know. [LAUGHS]
I mean, he was the Pied Piper.
When he said, "You know,
this could be the last hurrah,"
he made no bones about the fact
that we were going to be underfinanced.
There wasn't enough money.
It was us against the world.
We're gonna do something
that are gonna make people
sit up and take notice.
It was a crusade.
We were on the side
of all that was good and light.
Cheers to that.
And I said to him, you know...
We don't really know each other, right?
And he said, "Well, maybe it would be
a chance to get to know each other."
And that was it.
He had me hook, line, and sinker.
[DANIELS] So, now instead of running
from his dad's shadow,
Mike was running towards it.
If ignorance is bliss,
then Mike was in heaven.
[INTERVIEWER] So what was
the first day like?
It was horrible.
What do you think it was like?
It was what the world didn't need,
was another owner's kid.
You could almost see people
roll their eyes. I mean, just... Oh!
"God, I never expected this
from Bill Veeck,
for him to employ one of his kids."
But I can outwork you.
And that was my plan.
I was just gonna go,
and I was gonna outwork everybody.
If everybody stayed 16 hours,
I was gonna stay 17 hours
and earn their respect.
And I think that his attitude
would have been,
"Well, if he flames out
because he's not very smart, that's okay."
So, it was also a test to see if...
You know, if I had any stuff.
And I was terrified.
[REPORTER] Here they are. Hi, Veecks.
Let's just walk around
and get their names.
- What is your name?
- Michael Veeck.
- How old are you, Michael?
- Eleven.
Eleven years old.
[MIKE] We lived in this old house.
There were nine kids.
And so, growing up,
we would have fire drills.
My job was to grab the idea box.
And the idea box was filled with every gag
that Mom and Dad
or visitors had thought of.
In our house, cocktail napkins
and matchbooks, especially,
were considered card files.
If the house was on fire,
you didn't grab the art.
What a wonderful lesson.
And I never forgot that.
[REPORTER] Bill, what's behind your theory
of showmanship in baseball?
Well, I happen to have
a very ridiculous theory,
according to great many
ball club operators,
that it should be fun.
[DANIELS] In December of '75,
Bill begged and borrowed enough money
to buy the Chicago White Sox.
But keep in mind, this was insane.
He'd been out of the game
for over a decade at this point,
and things had changed.
Bill wasn't rich like today's owners.
He was the last
of the old-time baseball hustlers.
We have been pursuing this for some time,
and it, on occasion,
looked as if we might not make it.
And so, you really must forgive me
for not having prepared
a magnificent oration.
He was the return of the savior.
[DANIELS] And Chicago needed to be saved.
On the South Side,
the factories were dying
and the stadium was falling apart.
There wasn't a lot of hope.
- Bill! How you doing?
- [LAUGHING] Hi. Fine, thanks.
All right. So!
[MIKE] There was rejoicing in the streets.
In Chicago?
Oh, couldn't get no bigger
than Bill Veeck.
He was the man.
[MIKE] He was in the phone book.
He frequented the same saloons
that they went to.
He used cabs
as a source of marketing research.
And even now, people tell me,
"I was a Sox fan because of the owner."
[MIKE] He was one of them.
That's exactly how they felt.
[DANIELS] And if Chicago
was the Second City,
the White Sox had always been
their second team.
Scrappy underdogs to the crosstown Cubs.
[DOMBROWSKI] We knew we weren't
really a very good club.
There were no expectations
of winning your division
or winning a pennant.
[CHICOINE] But Bill had a plan.
Get people in the seats
and good things will happen.
Oh, this is a wonderful ballpark.
[DANIELS] Bill didn't have an office.
He ran the team from a little bar
deep inside Comiskey.
The press and visiting teams
were always welcome.
It was the Bard's Room.
[MIKE] You walk into the Bard's Room,
and suddenly,
all of these baseball cards come alive.
And now I had to figure out
how I could earn a seat at that table.
[REPORTER] Bill, how much
do you know about baseball?
[BILL] I'm pretty good.
I've seen more ball games
than almost anybody you can find around.
[DANIELS] This is an understatement.
Bill has seen it all.
His dad ran the Cubs.
So, when he was a gopher like Mike,
he planted the famous ivy at Wrigley.
And when he owned the Indians,
he integrated the American League
with Larry Doby and Satchel Paige.
But what you don't hear
is that legend has it,
years before Jackie Robinson,
he schemed to buy the Phillies
and replace all the white players
with Black players.
But that plan didn't get very far.
All the fun stuff that happens
at baseball games today,
fireworks, giveaways, promos,
you name it, Bill invented it.
Oh, and he also brought in this guy,
Eddie Gaedel, to pinch-hit one time.
He was a dwarf. It's a whole other story.
So, yeah, Bill knows
a thing or two about baseball.
No, what you are creating is a ground rule
in which greed reigns supreme.
And after every home game,
I'd come up there.
- He loved to stimulate a conversation.
- Now...
[LA RUSSA] And once it got going,
he'd just sit back
with a big smile on his face.
That's where the education came from.
[MIKE] I was mute.
I got beers for people. I fetched.
It was a crusade.
And I was on my own crusade too.
[DOMBROWSKI] Mike wanted
to keep him in the game.
And we knew
that if the White Sox situation broke up,
that that would mean
the end of he and his dad
probably ever working together
or being together.
[DANIELS] And Bill Veeck was a marked man.
The other owners, the baseball purists,
they wanted nothing more
than to see him fail.
Bill was gonna have to pull out
all the stops to stay afloat.
[MAN] Would you please form
single-file lines at the gate?
Okay, now, this song we're gonna play
for Bill Veeck. Here we go.
[MIKE] In 1977, boy, we needed a miracle.
Happy days.
The opening day today, all right!
Go, White Sox!
[INTERVIEWER] So, what was
your pitch to the fans?
It was very simple.
[BILL] There's nothing to giving
everyone in a ballpark an Eskimo Pie.
But to give one person 30,000 Eskimo Pies,
now that causes some interesting thought.
And we're gonna constantly try new things.
[DANIELS] Bill didn't believe in titles,
but Mike was basically head of promotions.
Together, they installed
a barbershop in the outfield,
brought in circus animals,
belly dancers,
added a shower,
and, of course,
the shorts.
When we saw them, we said,
"What is going on here?"
But that's Bill Veeck.
[LA RUSSA] The slides were
the most perilous part of the game.
Hey, hey, hey, hey
His detractors would always say,
"Hey, 35% of the people hate this stuff."
That's exactly right,
35% are just there for the ball game.
They could care less.
That leaves a lot of seats.
Dad is having his last hurrah,
and I was doing
everything I could to help him out.
Coming, Dad!
[DANIELS] Meanwhile,
the team was taking off.
That summer, they hit more home runs
than any other team in Chicago history,
which meant a lot of action
for one of Bill's most legendary hustles,
the exploding scoreboard.
[REPORTER] So, Mike,
can you explain to me how this all works?
What my dad realized is, uh, home runs,
they're basically dull, right? You know?
A crack from the bat, the ball's gone,
and that's the end of the excitement.
So we sort of figured out, "Okay,
how do we spice things up a little bit?"
- [ANNOUNCER] Drive way back!
Might be outta here! It could be! It is!
- Bang. That's one.
- [ANNOUNCER] Holy cow!
Boom, boom, boom, boom.
[ANNOUNCER] Listen to the crowd!
Grand slam? All four.
[JOHNSON] We hit so many home runs
that one year,
Mike couldn't reload
the scoreboard quick enough.
[MIKE] Coming! Gotta reload.
"Hey, where are the...
Where are the explosions?"
[DANIELS] There was real magic
on the South Side that summer,
but more importantly...
Mike got to show his dad
that he had the stuff.
What could possibly go wrong?
[DOMBROWSKI] We go in to Bill
to see how much money we have
to sign our players.
And he says, uh, "Well, just remember,
any money you give these players,
we don't have."
[JOHNSON] He never re-signed anybody.
Anybody became a free agent,
they were gone.
Because we were underfinanced.
We needed the jink.
Here's a perfect example.
Dad needed to sign Chet Lemon.
He needed $70,000. Imagine that.
One day, I was shooting fireworks.
And I looked up, and I saw
the reflection in the old press box.
And I thought to myself,
"That'd be a great seat."
So, you get an order of ribs,
a couple of cans of beer,
for a thousand dollars.
And we'll call it...
Boom. He signs Chet Lemon.
[DANIELS] Looking back,
this is actually a pretty big moment.
It was the birth of the luxury suite.
Thanks, Mike.
I go bearing gifts.
You know, it was over a course
of three days, maybe.
I mean, it sold out quickly.
He goes, "Miguel,
you expect that Joe's Bar and Grill
is gonna buy one of these
from you every year, don't you?"
And he looked at me and shook his head,
and he said, uh,
"What about Xerox and IBM?"
He said, "When they see this,
they're gonna want to buy the thing."
"It's elitist."
[BILL] At the rate we're going,
you're talking about $100 bleacher seats.
Quite obviously,
that's going to destroy the game.
[MIKE] In other words, he could see
right straight down that avenue.
I never saw it. I saw an immediacy.
"We need money? I got a solution."
Hear ye, hear ye. A royal decree
from the king of softball, Eddie Feigner.
King Eddie has thrown over 900 no-hitters,
and he can pitch blindfolded
or from second base.
Through Mike, they doubled
and tripled down on the promotions.
I was just trying to draw people.
We were financially in trouble.
- When the music starts
That funky, funky beat
[MIKE] Chicago is on fire
with disco clubs.
Hypnotize my heart
So, we do a salute to disco.
I remember nothing else about it,
except it was a huge success.
When I think of disco,
I think of Rick Dees doing "Disco Duck"
and going, "What is...?"
Disco, Disco Duck
[DANIELS] Disco started
in the underground club scene,
but by '79, it was everywhere.
And everyone was cashing in.
[MIKE] It's three o'clock in the morning,
and we're having a great laugh
about how we pulled off
this salute to disco.
And my old man was always telling me,
"Think opposites."
'Cause I said, "You know,
we ought to have a night
for people who hate disco."
We need money? I got a solution.
Jeff Schwartz calls me up,
and he says to me,
"Steve Dahl just blew up
a disco record on the air."
Who's Steve Dahl?
He's outrageous.
He's obnoxious.
He's the greatest. He will be. And he...
You can't get any higher than Steve Dahl.
Dahl is mentioned in the same breath
as Howard Stern and Bubba the...
They were all these shock jocks that...
I didn't listen to any of that.
You know, didn't mean anything to me.
I'm tired of being a regional star.
I'm a megastar.
But if I go to Los Angeles, I'm nobody.
If I go to New York, I'm nobody.
And I drink a lot because of that,
and I take Valiums.
They're prescribed, but I abuse 'em.
And if you don't make me
a national celebrity by 1982,
I'll kill myself.
[MIKE] And with 16-year-old boys,
he was on fire.
I had no idea
that this younger demographic
really took anti-disco seriously.
I thought we were all gonna have fun.
Ooh, that felt good.
[MIKE] To me,
it was absolutely tongue-in-cheek.
So at three o'clock, I look out there,
and we have a meeting with the cops
because it's a five o'clock start.
They go, "How many people will you have?"
I said, "We're gonna have 35,000 people."
They're like...
"Not a chance."
Hello, again, everybody.
[CARAY] Harry Caray and Jimmy Piersall
from Comiskey Park,
where we're gonna have
a wild night tonight.
A twi-night doubleheader.
This has got to be the youngest crowd
ever to fill up Comiskey Park.
Just a tremendous promotion.
[CHICOINE] So, I took the L and got off,
and right when you got off,
you knew something was different.
It was all these kids hanging around.
I am Dr. Death.
The promotion was
that if you brought a disco record
to the ballpark, you got in for 99 cents.
There were giant bins of disco records.
Come to these...
Come see baseball. Come drink beer.
Traffic is backed up
from Comiskey Park to O'Hare Airport.
I think it's 17 miles.
The city's in gridlock.
I'm like, "That's cool."
[CHICOINE] But it was the strangest vibe.
This doesn't seem
like a baseball crowd at all.
[MIKE] First pitch,
there's 55-60,000 people in the park,
and we have to shut the gates down.
They didn't do that for the World Series.
And there's 40,000 people outside.
Some of them were trying
to climb into the stadium.
[MIKE] We're confiscating grappling hooks.
I mean, this was an audience
unlike we'd ever seen,
in numbers we'd never seen.
During the game,
one section would just say, "Disco sucks!"
Then the other section, "Disco sucks!"
They're just going back and forth,
back and forth the entire game.
[CROWD CHANTING] Disco sucks!
[CARAY] Well, I'm worried about
what's gonna happen
between games of the doubleheader when
there's no action on the field at all.
It was just this hum, hum,
- hum, hum...
There was a hum the whole game.
[CARAY] Two-two pitch.
[CROWD] Disco sucks!
[CARAY] He struck him out,
and the ball game is over.
And the Detroit Tigers...
So, when that first game ended,
there was this wave of anticipation.
Something's gonna happen here.
Something big is about to happen.
[MIKE] Dahl rides in on his commando jeep.
This is gonna be all over the newspapers,
all over the television.
And everybody's gonna know
us rock 'n rollers here in Chicago think...
Disco sucks! Disco sucks!
Disco sucks! Disco sucks!
[CROWD CHANTING] Disco sucks!
[DAHL] Disco sucks! Disco sucks!
[MIKE] We had about 20,000 record albums
in the dumpster.
We pull the dumpster out.
[CROWD] Disco sucks!
250 feet in the air these albums go.
It is really something.
And I am thinking to myself...
[WHISPERING] "Holy cow."
[IN NORMAL VOICE] "This is it.
I'm gonna make my bones."
"Nobody's ever gonna refer to me
as the owner's kid again."
"I mean, look at this crowd."
[CROWD] Disco sucks!
Disco sucks! Disco sucks!
[MIKE] Steve Dahl's jeep
goes riding off the field.
[CROWD] Disco sucks!
I'm still standing behind second base
with four or five of my guys.
And I see 'em come down the foul pole,
and that's when it hits me.
"Oh, that's what could go wrong."
And I'm standing on second base,
just behind second base,
watching my life unfold.
"Crowd control" is a misnomer.
In certain cases, they look and they go,
"Hey, there's 35 of them
and 40,000 of us. Let's take the field."
That's exactly what they did.
The next hour, they swarmed.
The baseball is no longer the story.
- It's this crowd taking over the ballpark.
- [PIERSALL] Yeah. You know what's amazing?
We got the greatest country in the world,
but you know what?
We have become followers.
So many people insecure,
don't know what to do with themselves
and how to have a good time,
they follow someone who's a jerk.
[CARAY] Well, that's the situation here.
[PIERSALL] There are now 10,000 people
on that field, Bill, without any question.
It was some kind of wild.
[PIERSALL] Will they call the second game,
or will they forfeit it?
[CARAY] Well, I don't know
what the ruling would be.
[BILL] Back to your seats!
Back to your seats!
[KARLEN] So, Bill finally went downstairs.
This is Bill Veeck.
Let's start... Let's get off the field
and start the ball game.
Bill could not get people to go back
to their seats and just sit down.
[CARAY] Take me out with the crowd
[KARLEN] And that event was so traumatic,
it broke his heart.
[CARAY] ...and Cracker Jack
I don't care if I ever get back
For we'll root, root, root
For the White Sox
[BILL] Come on now!
Back to your seats so we can play ball!
Here comes the riot squad.
They cleared the field
in literally 10 or 15 minutes.
And when they cleared the field,
all the bases were gone.
They even... I don't know how they did it,
they dug up home plate.
I don't know how they got that.
You know, it was a combination
of a lot of things out here,
and it's called,
"You can blame it on the disco."
So, that, the heat, and a lot of drugs,
and, uh, just a very unruly crowd
presented the problem.
I talked to the deputy chief...
[DANIELS] But there's more to it.
What was supposed to be a night of fun
unintentionally hurt a lot of people.
You think a different way,
walk a different way,
sing a different way,
dance a different way, that scares people,
and Chicago's notorious for that.
[MAN] They set our records on fire,
and our dreams became a disco inferno.
[LAWRENCE] It was a book burning.
It was a racist, homophobic book burning.
[MIKE] I can understand
how people look at it today,
of it being racist,
of it being homophobic.
Looking back now, through that lens,
you know, I realize that...
not only is it complicated,
but more importantly,
it's painful to people.
It was never intended
to hurt any group,
to make any group
feel belittled or singled out.
It was simply a promotion designed...
because I had a date to fill.
"We need money? I got a solution."
If I could go back,
I wouldn't have done it.
I wouldn't have done it
if I thought it'd hurt anyone.
Who's to fault? Who... Who... Who is...
Who is at fault for this happening?
Last night, it came from Bill Veeck's son.
A gimmick that left no doubt
that the boy's name rhymes
with "wreck," too.
[MIKE] I had failed my father.
So at the end of the night,
I said to the old man,
"I'm done. I'm... I'm quitting."
"I'm... I'm resigning. I'm so...
I just can't tell you how sorry I am."
He said, "Are you guys kidding me?"
He goes,
"You leave with them that brung you."
And he took the blame for the whole thing.
do you think this contributed
to him having to sell
the team a year later?
Wow. I don't think
I've ever been asked that.
[ANNOUNCER 1] Live from Comiskey Park,
a tribute to Bill Veeck.
[ANNOUNCER 2] And tonight,
it's hail and farewell.
There's no question that there was a...
That it... it contributed.
Here was their chance to get even,
so, you know,
they're not gonna waste it on me.
[ANNOUNCER 2] You know, this really
should be a happy and festive occasion,
but the very thought that you're seeing
a man like Bill Veeck move on
is really sad.
[ANNOUNCER 1] Well, one thing that...
Now, this is the last hurrah.
He's going to be through with baseball.
[BILL] I'm sorry that we didn't bring you
the championship I thought we could.
Thank you again for a lovely time.
Thank you for a delightful night.
[MIKE] You know,
when he sold the White Sox,
they said, "We're gonna introduce
some class to the South Side."
He never really set foot
in Comiskey again.
[ANNOUNCER 2] Now, there's no way
he'll get back into the game,
and he's really going to be missed.
[MIKE] This is a little-known
historical fact.
I had lots of job offers
after I left the White Sox.
People who like riots,
you know, soccer teams.
- I had definitely been pigeonholed,
but no interest in baseball.
Never was a guy looking
for a second chance more than I was.
I mean, I was like a dog with a bone.
I mean, my life was really a wreck.
[MIKE] Now it was beginning to sink in.
I had this kind of nuclear glow.
[DOMBROWSKI] He was not allowed
in the game.
When his name came up,
they turned the page.
[MIKE] It was a long drunk.
I mean, I was just gassed.
I was filling that void,
[DANIELS] Let's travel through time
a little bit.
- Over the next ten years,
Mike gambles all his money away
on jai alai,
starts an ad agency,
explores the world of stimulants,
keeps drinking,
- gets married, has a heart attack...
...and then has a son,
that he decides to name Night Train.
Where do I start? What a strange thing.
My last name's weird,
my first name's weird.
Even if you couldn't play... on a sandlot,
you would get picked
on the strength of a cool name.
I think he underestimated the number
of people that would respond poorly
in elementary and middle school
and in business.
So, didn't have a whole lot
of foresight on that front.
But it's made me unique.
[MIKE] She got custody.
I didn't deserve to have shared custody.
And there'd be long stretches,
you know, months at a time
where we wouldn't get to hang.
And, you know, we'd talk on the phone,
and he'd write letters, things like that.
When you're a kid, you're just in it.
You're just with your dad.
But yeah, you know, looking back on it,
it was a strange time.
I was not functioning well.
One of the great men of baseball
died this morning.
Bill Veeck was 71.
He had never played the game.
[REPORTER 2] He said his name should be
pronounced "Veck" as in wreck.
[REPORTER 3] He had
his own vision of heaven.
[BILL] And the most beautiful thing...
is a ballpark filled with people.
[MIKE] I just couldn't
make it stop hurting.
You know, there was just little pieces
of my heart falling out,
and I... I just was...
I was 40 years old and lost.
Really lost.
My brother had said,
"This goofy guy moved downstairs."
"His dad was some famous baseball guy,"
was exactly what he said to me.
But he goes, "You gotta meet this guy."
Crazy mama
I had no clue.
Where you been so long?
[MIKE] He said,
"You've got to come downstairs
and meet the loneliest man in the world."
Crazy mama
Where you been so long?
I was impressing her
with my vast knowledge
of all things music.
...a high-pitched voice man
but look at his dog. He got a dog...
She played a couple of cuts.
Prine, and killed me with J.J. Cale.
And it was the first concert I went to.
- Whoa!
- [LIBBY] It was incredible.
[MIKE] I was so enchanted.
[LIBBY] He'd been through some hard times
that he kept very close to the vest.
[MIKE] I had no confidence left.
But somehow, she believed in me.
Then the phone call came,
as I like to refer to it.
"The phone call."
Jesus watches out for baseball operators.
That was a little Biblical,
even for my taste, but hey.
You can edit that out.
That's the beauty of the movies.
[DANIELS] On the phone
was baseball investor Marv Goldklang.
[MIKE] And he goes,
"I'm thinking about putting together
an independent league."
[DANIELS] This was not going
to be the major leagues.
Far from it.
There's the major leagues,
the minor leagues,
college teams,
junior college teams, high school teams,
and then the independent league,
is where it was at the beginning.
And someone like Mike
fit in perfectly.
The team they offered him
was the St. Paul Saints,
in the smaller of the Twin Cities,
St. Paul, Minnesota.
A town that had a chip on its shoulder
as the overlooked underdog.
All they needed from Mike was a decision.
Fuck yeah.
[DANIELS] Mike was home.
[MIKE] I borrowed $100,000
from my cousin, Fred.
Put $50,000 on credit cards.
[DANIELS] But to make it work,
he was going to have to hustle.
[MIKE] I needed a miracle
to really get people talking.
I needed that signature gag.
[DANIELS] Mike finds out that St. Paul
used to be called "Pig's Eye."
"Oh, I can work with this."
[MAN] That's a boy.
[DANIELS] Now, somehow,
Mike trains the pig
to deliver balls to the umpire.
[MIKE] A ball pig.
[DANIELS] Signature gag.
[KARLEN] You gotta hand it to Mike.
The animals delivering the ball hustle?
It happens all the time now.
But back then, nobody was doing this.
And starting a baseball team here
was a risky move.
By which, I mean "absolutely crazy."
Because just seven miles away,
across the river in Minneapolis,
were the Minnesota Twins.
And they were pretty good.
are gonna win the World Series!
- The Twins have won it!
[KARLEN] I think it was St. Paul native
F. Scott Fitzgerald who once said,
"There are no second acts
in American lives."
But fuck that guy!
[MIKE] It was a marriage made in heaven.
I had a chip on my shoulder,
I understood the chip they had,
and together, we were gonna be outrageous.
Oh, yeah.
[INTERVIEWER] You moved into this house
sight unseen?
[LIBBY] Sight unseen. He saw the outside.
I knew that she would love this house.
- Because it looks like her.
It has all these little angles
and nuances and curls, and everything.
That was back before I knew what
it would cost to paint it, I will add.
[LIBBY] A lot of smoke and mirrors
in the beginning,
when the whole independent thing came up.
What... They can't take anything else.
We don't have it.
So, go do it.
This is your... what you love.
It was right here
where Michael proposed to me.
[MIKE] We'd listen
to the ball game on the radio.
She was having wine,
I was drinking a beer,
and we were sitting here,
and I said, "Wait one second."
When we first met,
we were sitting in her carport,
and it was raining like hell.
So, I attempted to recreate it.
And I got down on my knee
because I could still do that,
and I said, "I'd like to marry you."
Meanwhile, I had just walked in
and gotten, you know, a lap blanket,
and I go, "What are you doing?"
[DANIELS] And then, Mike and Libby
had a daughter. Rebecca.
[MIKE] This is where
we taught Rebecca to vend
because they would have weddings
over here all the time.
And she had a piercing voice.
So, you know, all of a sudden,
across all the vows,
you'd hear, "Yup, get your lemonade!"
She was definitely her father's daughter.
[BARREIRO] One minute, 58 seconds
past the hour of three.
Just another lovely spring
Monday afternoon here in Minneapolis.
So, Mike Veeck, as you're trying
to put it together here early,
tell me why this isn't a pipe dream.
I really felt that baseball
had become kind of faceless.
If we had come here and said,
"Come out to Midway Stadium
and see some great baseball,"
we would have been out of business
in 45 days, and we would have deserved it.
So, all day long, I would walk
around my new home, Midway.
I think for the princely sum
of $200 a game,
we were gonna rent it from the city.
People always would say
it's the ugliest ballpark in America.
The press box was virtually nonexistent.
The owner's box was a John Deere tractor.
It had trains that ran by nonstop.
You couldn't get any lower.
We planted flowers everywhere.
We had artists working
on different murals.
Everything that we did
was Scotch-taped together and glued.
I took every speaking engagement
that I could get.
[LIBBY] There's just a fun thing
we got going over here
we didn't have in town before.
You could see his vision,
what he wanted to do.
[MIKE] I specialize in cheap theatrics.
Ask anybody.
But I'm third-generation,
I'm proud to say.
Hustlers have been doing this
for a lot of years in my house.
And we're too stupid to do anything else.
We don't know anything else.
If you do the same old tired things,
then that's what you become,
so you have to take chances.
And I wanna show you that...
...that I have no problem sharing
a cup of coffee with my canine friends.
He's a workaholic.
So, it's... he gets to do
all kinds of different stuff.
It's kind of sweet, I think.
[MIKE] It could not fail.
And so, I would come home
and be scared to death.
But once I hit that door, baby,
it was gonna work.
He never let it show.
[DANIELS] That winter,
as the staff prepped for opening day,
many around the stadium began to wonder
what Mike kept in his private office.
It was mostly empty,
except for a dartboard.
On that dartboard was every bad thing
said about him in his entire life.
It was a really big board.
[MAN 1] The Saints, stale jokes and all,
are a phenomenon that too shall pass.
Mike's beer league doesn't stand a chance.
- The Saints won't make it to July.
- [MIKE]Fuck you, Mike.
[MAN 1] The offspring cannot duplicate...
Mike Veeck isn't a splinter
off his old man's leg.
[MAN 2] You're gonna ruin this.
Just like you ruined your dad's career.
[KARLEN] You know, sometimes it's good
to feign a little madness.
Perhaps there's some to Mike too.
Or maybe there's a dash of real madness.
And that's probably part of the magic.
[MIKE] I just don't wanna do
anything else.
Nothing else suddenly makes sense.
I wanna stay.
I'd be like a cat, man,
clawing on that screen
if they try to get me out again.
So I always talk to my dad
in center field.
Wondering how he responds.
When the flags move a little bit,
I know I've gotten an answer.
[DANIELS] On the morning of opening day,
Mike went out to center field.
He said, "Dad, is this going to work?"
Opening day has always been one way
in which nature imitates the game.
Like the crocus, the swallow,
and the ice melting on the lake,
it signifies the rebirth of the land,
it signifies the end of winter.
I hope.
[INTERVIEWER] What were the odds?
[MIKE] I don't know.
Something like 70, 80 to one.
This was everything on the line
that I had.
[HUIDEKOPER] The morning
of our first game,
Mike turns to me and says,
"You're in charge of my mom tonight."
And I was kind of walking
around the ballpark with her.
And then, of course, we have a downpour.
[ANNOUNCER] So, we will have a rain delay.
And she looked down the concourse
and said, "Annie, look around."
"Look at all these people who are here."
"And it's pouring rain right now,
and nobody's leaving."
"Something magical's happening here."
[DANIELS] Midway Stadium,
in those early days,
was as if you were stepping
into Mike's imagination.
[MIKE] Six o'clock, when the gates open,
6:30, I meet Calvin.
[REPORTER] Let me just back up
to five o'clock.
The Mouldy Figs and Bill the Juggler.
- [ALL] Up you go!
[DANIELS] He was going to show
how much fun
you could have at a baseball game.
[REPORTER] Any suggestions,
any new, uh, ideas you can think of?
- Hot tub in the outfield.
- [MIKE] Hot tub, huh?
A very large train
going by right now, Chris!
Can't hear a thing!
[DANIELS] Oh, yeah.
We should probably mention this guy.
Sometimes he would show up
and help come up with the gags.
[ANNOUNCER] We're at Midway Stadium
here in St. Paul,
where Bill Murray has thrown out
the first ball and tossed it right...
[DANIELS] And over in the outfield
was the mini-tron,
a 17-inch TV used for replays,
that no one could see.
And that's just scratching the surface.
Hey, hey, hey, hey
[MIKE] Nothing makes me happier
than when somebody comes up and goes,
"I hate baseball.
I love coming to see the Saints."
[KARLEN] And centered in all that madness,
he really gave people the chance.
And it was interesting how
it literally was from the popcorn seller
to the designated hitter.
[DANIELS] Over in left field
was Sister Roz,
a nun who had been banished
from her parish for giving massages.
I have heard about this woman all my life,
and I stood in line for hours to get here.
And she's the best.
She couldn't help
that she came from Fargo, North Dakota,
and had hands of steel.
Sometimes, I just feel,
when I massage the head,
I would be thinking
of the crown of thorns.
I am massaging Jesus.
[ANNOUNCER] Saints and Sister Rosalind,
a heavenly combination.
I mean, she was the goods.
- [DANIELS] And...
- And!
And in the booth, most nights,
was Don Wardlow,
the color commentator, who was also blind.
[WARDLOW] The pitch-out
and the squeeze play
happened right at the same moment.
The runner was a dead duck.
For a blind person, it's very rare
to ever feel a sense of power,
and doing something that makes you feel
the equal of the sighted world.
[MIKE] It was a constant reminder
that this was a place
where anything was possible.
[FANS] La, la, la, la, Hirtensteiner
Hirtensteiner's at bat
[INTERVIEWER] And what about the players?
We would take headcases.
If you were a veteran
and still had some gas in the tank.
[WARDLOW] Jack Morris just celebrated
his 41st birthday not too long ago.
Many years in the majors.
I mean, I feel like
I'm gonna throw up right now.
I don't know if it's 'cause of my neck
or the stink of them damn pigs.
We had guys who were overlooked,
undrafted, told they weren't good enough.
[HUIDEKOPER] Kevin Millar
is a good example.
Solid ballplayer, but he was slow,
and so no one drafted him.
And he ends up
being on my Boston Red Sox in 2004
when they win the World Series
for the first time in 86 years.
[KARLEN] As one guy said to me,
"The Saints were the only team willing
to give me a fourth second chance."
That you could try again,
there is something so noble.
We all love that story.
That's why, at its very best,
independent ball allowed you to do things.
One day, one of our scouts called.
And said, "There's a woman in Whittier."
"She's got a nasty breaking ball,
and her mechanics are darn near perfect."
I've always been booed.
Like, everywhere I went as a kid,
I was booed.
"This is for men, this is for boys,
and you're invading our space."
"You need to go over there."
They kind of put you in these boxes.
[MIKE] My dad always thought it was unfair
that only men could play baseball.
And one day, their wives
will play in the major leagues.
- [REPORTER] Do you think so?
- Oh, no question.
Oh yeah, I know they think
women can't play baseball,
but let me tell you
who can't play baseball.
I can't play baseball. Okay?
You can play baseball.
I want you to come out here,
come on, try out for the St. Paul Saints.
All right? Will you do it?
[BORDERS] I said,
"Mike, that's all I want."
"I don't want a contract."
"I don't want anything handed to me.
I just want a shot."
[BORDERS] I might have been the last one
they picked on the roster, but I made it.
[ANNOUNCER] Midway Stadium in St. Paul
continues to be the field of dreams
for Ila Borders.
She's now officially the first woman
to make the roster
of a men's professional baseball team.
[BORDERS] Then I get to pro ball
with the Saints, and people were cheering.
Like, a sold-out crowd cheering.
I wasn't used to that.
It sounds funny.
You think that would be good,
but it took me some time to get used
to people actually cheering for me.
[KARLEN] It enthused St. Paul
in a way I'd never seen before.
They really needed something,
and the Saints provided that.
That was a wonderful, magical time.
It was him.
[NIGHT TRAIN] He had found more stability.
He got to be back in the game.
This was his project in St. Paul
that he was starting,
and he was more consistent on every level.
I had a little girl and a young son
who adored each other.
It really made parenting easy.
Pretty much the four of us
did everything together.
Get your St. Paul Saints programs
right here.
He became really quick.
Great hand-eye
because of all that Game Boy work.
He could fill a rack of Cokes
like nobody's business.
You don't know
how many child labor laws you're breaking,
and... and frankly,
how much you're loving it.
[INTERVIEWER] So, what job
did you force Rebecca to do?
She was a greeter.
And every time that door opened,
this little towhead
would jump up and go, "Hi!"
- "Hi! Hi, I'm Rebecca."
- "Hello."
[STEVENS] Rebecca was so much
to that team.
And she... she was the mascot.
That pig that took the balls out,
no, that was not the mascot.
And they rallied around her.
Mascotting of any flavor,
costumes, just her.
[HUIDEKOPER] At the end of the year,
there was a consultant
that... that gave a report
about the Saints, and said,
"You need to... You need to lose
the little girl at the front door."
"It's not professional."
God! "A little more professional."
[HUIDEKOPER] Word of mouth got out.
I mean, we hardly had to do advertising.
It was just like this ripple effect.
One reason for St. Paul's success?
The shtick of Mike Veeck.
We come here because we feel welcome here.
You know, it's fun.
You know, that old dilemma.
"Why can't we know
we're in the good old days
in the good old days?"
Baseball. Real outdoor baseball.
Baseball? Yeah!
We sold out 600 games in a row
or something ridiculous.
[DANIELS] This doesn't get said enough,
but the St. Paul Saints changed baseball.
All the fun that happens today
at independent and minor league games,
you name it, Mike invented it.
[REPORTER] When you first
came to town, though,
you had a lot of people waiting for you
to fail and predicting your doom.
God bless them.
[ANNOUNCER] This is what
it's all about now,
with a full house all on their feet.
[MIKE] My dad would have loved St. Paul.
He would have understood
that it was street theater
wrapped around a ball game.
[BILL] This world would be better
if more people
didn't take it too seriously.
You know, it isn't grim.
It's kind of wonderful.
[ANNOUNCER 1] Solomon will set.
The one-two. He swings.
It goes toward right field.
It is dropping in for a big hit.
And the Saints win it, 3-2!
[ANNOUNCER 2] St. Paul,
the Northern League Champions for 1993!
Your whole approach is to have fun,
but the last thing you want
is another Disco Demolition disaster.
Did you feel in your mind
that you were still wearing
that scarlet letter
when you arrived in St. Paul?
"Owner's son strikes out."
Baseball reference. Clever.
You agree with that, pig?
Yeah? All right.
What you got for me on this one?
"You suck. Failure."
Okay. You made your point.
Mike, let me ask you,
you've been in the major leagues.
Would you like another shot at the show?
For 15 years, I dreamed
of making it back to the major leagues.
That was all I ever thought about,
was the return.
[DANIELS] Mike had to be
honest with himself.
It wasn't going to happen.
So, he did what any workaholic would do.
He bought more teams.
The Butte Copper Kings.
The Charleston RiverDogs.
The Hudson Valley Renegades.
The Sioux Fall Canaries.
The Brockton Rox.
The Lake Havasu River Trout.
I just made that one up.
And everywhere he went,
the circus followed.
In the late '90s,
everything was coming together.
But Mike was about to be tested,
because little did he know...
[ALL] Little did he know!
Little did he know, in St. Paul,
redemption is a two-way street.
Strawberry was an interesting...
Did I... Have I told you
the story about him?
He was almost, as a player,
as a young player, bigger than life.
[ANNOUNCER] Well hit!
Way back! Deep center field!
Darryl Strawberry has done it again!
He had 300 home runs
before Mickey Mantle had 300 home runs.
[STEVENS] Darryl Strawberry is probably
the greatest professional baseball player,
that had the greatest tools...
and threw it all away.
[REPORTER 1] The 38-year-old
walked calmly in handcuffs,
once again facing criminal charges.
And investigators say it all stems
from driving under the influence.
[REPORTER 2] Darryl,
do you have anything to say?
[KARLEN] What he had screwed up
was remarkable.
He lost a $20.6 million contract.
And I think it was 206 teams
turned him down.
Every team in organized baseball.
And the only time I'd heard of something
like "206 available, nobody wants him,"
was Mike Veeck
after Disco Demolition night.
Why did you end up in St. Paul?
That's a really good question.
Probably because of...
a guy like Mike Veeck.
[MIKE] So, I'm driving to Owatonna.
I have a speaking engagement, and I decide
that I'm gonna make this
a nice evening with Libby.
So, we get a bottle of champagne.
And he got a call
from Marvin about Darryl.
[MIKE] And they're all over it.
This is great.
And I've got the third vote.
Let me ask you a question.
What... What's your gut on this?
[MIKE] Suddenly, I have a guy
who's violated every drug law
known to man,
and I'm afraid of how the fans
are gonna react to this.
I've worked really hard
to get a PG rating.
I... I just really...
I just really can't do this.
The temperature in the car
is now about -40 degrees Fahrenheit,
until Libby really weighs in
with her opinion.
And Libby's opinion is, "You hypocrite!"
"Even if it's a fourth chance,
you've already said
you need 200 chances yourself."
"And you're not gonna sign the guy
because he has a drug history?"
"And you're a drunk, and you've had
all of these kinds of problems."
"You've done things you're not...
And you're not gonna sign Darryl..."
Wow, you're really something.
[CHUCKLING] And she now doesn't talk to me
for the rest of the trip.
So when we get to the hotel room
with the bottle of champagne,
she's, like, barricaded in her room.
She's ashamed.
"Second chances?"
"You would not be here at all
had you not gotten a second chance."
"Why on earth
wouldn't you do that for Darryl?"
I feel terrible,
having my back to you like this, so...
Thank you very much for coming.
On the way to Owatonna last week,
Marv Goldklang and Marty Scott
mentioned Darryl Strawberry's name to me,
and the potential of... of signing him.
And I was, at best, lukewarm.
And I apologize, uh, for that
to the Strawberrys,
but that was... was my reaction.
I got a feel
of how sincere he was, you know.
And that was a good feeling.
That was different than most.
I believe Major League Baseball
has blackballed me.
I'm not bitter about it.
That's one thing I would like to say.
Because I've had some great years
that I can always remember.
[INTERVIEWER] Can you tell me
what headspace you were in at that time?
Completely lost. You know? Lost for life.
Didn't... Didn't really care about the fact
of life existing anymore and living.
You lose hope.
Nobody wanted to give me
a chance at the time.
I was just living.
I think I was just existing.
Put it like that.
Tough business, Marty, you know.
I really didn't
have a care about baseball.
I didn't care if I ever played again.
I thought I could go there and hide
and nobody would know anything. [CHUCKLES]
For me, that's the... that's the kind
of thought process
I had at that particular time,
is to go there
and really actually just play,
and see if I like baseball again.
[STEVENS] I came out, and the media
was all ready for Darryl to come out.
And then all eyes and cameras going,
"What the heck is going on?"
[MIKE] Wrote me letters, called me up.
He goes, "You know,
I don't have any legs."
"But I want an at-bat."
I bothered him enough where he said,
"Come out and let's see what you can do."
And the rest is history that nobody knows.
When I was a young kid
and found out about Eddie Gaedel,
people always said,
"You're as tall as Eddie Gaedel."
And I was like, "I'm an athlete,
and one day, I'm gonna prove it."
And Mike let me.
[MIKE] This guy was a fierce competitor.
And I just wanted to show people
what was possible.
How does a guy without legs
play professional baseball?
Uh, you gotta watch it.
Super Dave.
Everybody thought Super Dave was crazy,
but I thought it was pretty cool.
I was really impressed with it.
[ANNOUNCER] Darryl goes down swinging.
[MIKE] So about a week later, I hear,
"Hey, boss man, you got a minute?"
"Why is that guy so happy?"
And I go...
"Maybe it's just that you're so unhappy."
[STEVENS] Darryl was humbled
beyond anything he could have imagined.
It brought him back to the reality of,
"This is it. This is my last shot."
You are at the end of your career.
Watching Dave Stevens,
it got him outside himself.
[STRAWBERRY] I took great joy
in that friendship.
- What would be your nickname for me?
- Stud.
Stub or... Stub or Stud?
- Stud. You're a stud. He's a stud, huh?
We could relate.
You know, we could relate to life.
[STEVENS] It was almost AA
for three weeks.
I didn't judge him for his past.
I judged him on the merits of the moment.
[MIKE] And lo and behold, he's having fun.
I'm not sure
Darryl Strawberry ever had fun
playing professional baseball.
- [ANNOUNCER 1] That ball is gone.
[ANNOUNCER 2] This one's
hit well to center.
Powell going back, but forget about it.
Home run number 18 for Darryl Strawberry.
[STRAWBERRY] I was playing
at a whole different level.
All of a sudden, something new
and exciting came out of me.
[STEVENS] The third at-bat, bam,
three home runs.
He's got a chance in the eighth inning
for a fourth home run.
He comes up to me and goes,
"I want you to go hit for me."
I'm like, "Straw, you can hit
a fourth home run."
He goes, "Nah, man,
you've... you've earned this."
He needed his at-bat, you know?
I... I was always pushing,
you know, for that, for him.
For your St. Paul Saints,
the second baseman,
number 32, Dave Stevens.
And the crowd's like, "What?"
And I'm coming up to bat,
and I'm not prepared mentally.
And I come up,
and the crowd's going crazy.
The pitcher's going, "What do I do here?"
I fouled off four, five pitches,
and people are oohing and aahing
every time.
And then to take that last one,
where he just threw that thing
and just... Oh!
You know, I knew it. I knew it.
I didn't succeed.
But, you know,
you think about it years later,
and you're looking at your jersey
and looking at the box score,
and you're like, "Yeah, I did."
Nobody ever cheered for Goliath.
I mean, what do you think?
They were sitting in the Colosseum,
going, "Crush that little bum!"?
You know, underdogs are attractive.
Some of the biggest
disappointments in life,
you take that, and you learn from it,
and then you pass it along
to other people.
And that, to me, is success.
[STEVENS] My dream was
to play professional baseball,
and in 1996, thanks to Mike Veeck,
that... that came true.
[DANIELS] Later that season,
the show called.
Darryl was going to the Yankees.
When Darryl left, he came in
and gave me the greatest compliment
maybe I've ever gotten.
And he just said,
"Boss man,
you taught me to love the game again."
He said, "I'd forgotten
how much fun it is to play baseball."
Tell Mike to be sure
to send me these jerseys
because I can, you know, frame them.
- [MAN] Okay.
- All right?
I hadn't got a chance
to ever share all this.
St. Paul brought me back to life.
It made me see life better
and made me understand
you're not that darn important, you know?
Enjoy this while we got a chance.
I don't wanna be a superstar anymore.
I just wanna be.
Hayes waits.
- The Yankees are champions of baseball!
[REPORTER] ...with Darryl Strawberry.
Straw, this is a long way from St. Paul
in the Northern League, isn't it?
Yes, it truly is.
[DANIELS] And that could have been
the end of our movie.
But life doesn't really work that way.
It had now been 20 years
since Disco Demolition,
and Mike felt like
he was still on the outside looking in.
So, when the phone finally rang again,
the hotline to the show,
you know, that red one by the bathroom
that everyone was afraid to touch...
...the voice on the other end
was offering salvation
in the form of a job.
Mike was going back to the bigs.
[MIKE] I knew they were desperate,
and I knew that there was
a huge job ahead.
But I was back.
"All's forgiven."
[DANIELS] Mike was back in the show.
Kind of.
The Devil Rays' first season
was not classic baseball.
And it wasn't any fun
for the fans,
or for the players.
[ANNOUNCER 1] That's a high foul
that hits the lights up there.
- And the...
- [ANNOUNCER 2]Holy cow.
[ANNOUNCER 1] And the refuse
from the lights
have fallen onto the playing field here...
[DANIELS] You could say it was a bad bet.
But for Mike Veeck,
who still hadn't forgiven himself
for one night in 1979...
Seemed like a good idea at the time.
It was the phoenix rising from the ashes.
I had a chance to show
that I wasn't a one-hit wonder with disco,
that I really could contribute
some things to a game that I love.
In anticipation of going to Florida,
Florida law requires a wellness check.
"Read the eye chart, Rebecca."
She says, "I can't read it."
We think she's, like, kidding.
"Come on, it's E, and M, C,"
or whatever it is.
You know, "Okay."
"The theater of the absurd
is closed tonight."
"Just read the eye chart."
"I... I... I can't."
Retinitis pigmentosa.
The gradual losing of her eyesight,
and depending...
Her particular brand
would go from the center out,
so that her last...
She would look this way...
to center you, to see you.
And, um, that was crushing.
I did what all cowards do.
I was gonna bury myself in work.
I think that's a Veeck family trait.
I'm working 16 hours a day,
and I'm killing people,
I'm wearing them out,
but that's how much work we have to do.
It's a crusade.
You gotta get on board.
We're gonna take the love train through.
We're gonna turn this around in a year.
Not gonna be a problem.
So, opening night comes.
Obviously, I left the big leagues
20 years ago.
I felt that maybe I'd get a job offer.
I never did.
And so, tonight means more to me
than anything that...
I'm very verbose, and I don't know
how to describe what I feel.
The opening ceremony
was near and dear to my heart.
And, of course, I can't resist.
We shoot some indoor fireworks.
You know, I don't know anything
about ventilation. What do I know?
Unbeknownst to me, we don't open
any of the ventilation shafts, so...
The smoke gathers
in the top of the ballpark,
and sure enough, in the seventh inning,
there's a ball hit...
[ANNOUNCER] And a high fly ball
headed towards right center.
And you see this hesitation.
[ANNOUNCER] Martinez and Winn.
Who's gonna catch it?
And that ball
falls between the two of 'em.
Sadler scores. Here comes another man in.
So, we lose the game 3-1.
And the press conference now,
"What happened, Randy?"
"I lost the ball in the smoke."
"Veeck's first opening promotion
costs 'em a game."
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
- Mike, Rebecca's doctor's waiting for you.
- Not now. I'm having a dream.
It's not about winning or losing.
It's about showing up.
[MIKE] So, after a week of 16-hour days,
that would be 80 hours a week...
I come to Libby, and I said,
"Libby... let's have a glass of wine."
"What are we celebrating?" And I said,
"I can feel this ship moving."
I said, "All I have to do
is I gotta be able to work
17 hours a day instead of 16."
"I realize that you're gonna
have to deal with this situation
by yourself right now, but... but...
I... I'm gonna handle this."
"And in the long run, this'll be
the best thing for our family."
She pours a glass of wine
that is over the top.
And she hands it to me, and she goes...
"Let's have a drink to you
missing your second child growing up."
And bingo.
It was awful because it was
just the harsh reality of what was coming.
...I quit on Monday.
Merry Christmas, baby
Sure did treat me nice...
[MIKE] I took her to see
everything that I felt
that she should see
before the lights went out.
I'll do anything, and I mean anything.
Anything that she said
she wanted to visit,
and that's where we took her.
By this time, her eyesight was pretty bad,
but we took her to see the Grand Canyon.
It snows,
so that Rebecca can see the gradations.
Mitchell, South Dakota,
is the Corn Palace.
Was it a marketing hustle? Absolutely.
But they had those sales out front
of cassette tapes.
We drove the rest of the trip,
singing Christmas carols
at the top of our lungs.
Santa came down the chimney
Half past three, oh
She said to me,
"You know, the problem, Dad,
is I'm not gonna get a license
like everybody else."
That's probably not the best parenting.
I let her drive
down Pacific Coast Highway.
We went to Cooperstown.
And Larry Doby shows her a photo
of himself and her grandfather.
And she looks.
Merry, Merry, Merry Christmas, baby
And she goes, "Which one's Grandfather?"
[DANIELS] This vacation
went on for months.
Reno, she loved to gamble.
We took her to see Janis Joplin's bust.
We lost her in Alcatraz.
[DANIELS] Eventually, Mike takes Rebecca
to 30 states and five different countries.
But if a vacation never ends,
is it really a vacation?
Or is it just not wanting
to go back to real life?
[MIKE] She's the one who said to me,
"Dad, I have to go to school.
We can't keep driving around the country,
or going to Ireland, or going to Spain,
or going to the..."
"We really can't. I wanna go to school."
We had to go home.
[ANNOUNCER] All right!
[DANIELS] How amazing is it
that, in the middle of a game,
we all stop what we're doing
and sing a song?
- [ANNOUNCER] Everybody!
- [DANIELS] You all know the words.
- Sing along.
- [ANNOUNCER]Okay, Nancy.
[ALL] Take me out to the ball game
Take me out to the crowd
Buy me some peanuts
And Cracker Jack
I don't care if I ever get back
For it's root, root, root
For the White Sox
If they don't win, it's a shame
For it's one, two, three strikes
You're out
At the old ball game
- I got it... No!
- Put your right foot there.
- Just let me do this.
- Okay.
When you're raising a daughter,
there are a couple of things that are...
For those of you who are new
to the business,
that are really important. One...
A girl...
shows you her hand.
And then, before you can blink an eye,
she reaches into your chest cavity,
pulls out your heart,
looks at it, shows it to you,
and says, "You probably think
this belongs to you,
but it's mine."
And she's right.
[REBECCA] As I sat down
in front of the Brailler...
overwhelmed me.
I hate this one boy.
No offense to him or anything,
but he always goes,
"Why are you looking the other way, huh?"
"Why don't you look at me?"
I'm like, "Because I have an eye disease."
And then I just walk away.
[CULBRETH] There was this massive
part of her that wanted to fit in,
and this other part of her that rejected
what everyone was being and doing.
She kind of smelled through bullshit,
like, at a super young age.
[DANIELS] Mike decided to settle down
and get back to what was working:
Minor League Baseball.
The Charleston RiverDogs
needed the Veeck touch.
I should build an army of my own. Charge!
[DANIELS] And this time, the next
generation got to make their mark.
There wasn't any costume
that Night Train wouldn't put on.
[NIGHT TRAIN] I was Charlie.
I was Bark the Tree.
And Rebecca just wandered
from one end of the ballpark to the other.
[NIGHT TRAIN] I can't imagine a time
where she wouldn't just walk in
like she owned the joint.
I'd never seen anyone work a room before,
but she was, like, just working the room.
That was cool. I got to really see
who she was turning into.
[LIBBY] She was her father's daughter.
She wanted to be her dad.
She was Daddy's girl.
[DANIELS] And with his two kids
by his side,
Mike shows them both how to be a Veeck,
a hustler,
pushing the idea of fun further
than he ever had before.
You know, start at a one,
take it to a ten.
And if it gets you arrested,
we've gone too far.
You wanna try a really good hustle?
Nobody Night.
[NIGHT TRAIN] I've never seen a team
lock out their entire fan base.
And everybody loved it.
And they would look over the wall.
The key to it is that it had
to be the real operation.
We opened up concession stands.
Actual workers in the concession stands
serving no one.
Programs here! Programs.
That feels like it was
so quintessentially us.
She was by his side,
down to like, "Give me the ball."
And you could tell that there was, like,
this token being passed down to her.
She wanted to grow up to be Mike.
"I'm gonna be in baseball."
[MIKE] And she will be
the fourth generation.
And she's gonna make it look like
I was never in this business.
She was absolutely gonna be
the heir apparent.
She was gonna run
a Minor League team somewhere.
[HARMON] So, this was home
to Rebecca Veeck.
Started out as being a patient,
ended up as being a friend.
Um, I helped take care of her
in the last couple years of her life.
That's what this is.
[DANIELS] One day, out of the blue,
Rebecca had a seizure.
She was initially diagnosed
for going blind.
And, truthfully,
it's only an act of God that we...
that she was misdiagnosed.
Because had we known
for that 11-year period,
um, we never would have survived it.
With Batten's Disease, you lose memory,
you lose cognitive function,
you lose the ability to count.
It's a regression. You...
lose everything back to the point
where you can't speak.
Or move.
And so, I googled Batten, and I'm like,
you know, one...
It just got worse and worse
and worse and worse.
And... she had only had
a couple of those stages.
[MIKE] Close your eyes and walk anywhere.
Close your eyes and walk down stairs.
Close your eyes
and walk around a ballpark.
It's really scary to close your eyes
and try to go five minutes
without being able to see.
I would do that all the time.
And it made me feel...
connected to her.
Because Rebecca was fearless.
She just laughed it out.
She taught me that.
All that laughter and fun
was gonna save us.
We're going to laugh
our way through the pain.
She hated her cane.
She hated being referred to
as "visually impaired."
Unless it was a show
she really wanted to see,
at which point she could do the...
"Pardon me, sir."
"You have some...
Some seats for the visually impaired?"
"There would be three of us.
My mom and dad would bring me."
I mean, she could... You know.
And just when she had them,
because of her background
around the ballpark,
she'd go, "And... And parking?"
[HARMON] So, I'm up here
checking in on Rebecca.
"Dr. Kevin, why don't you sing with us?"
[CHUCKLING] Like, "What? I don't sing."
"Oh, come on."
Mike gets out his guitar.
One song, then two songs,
then three songs.
Next thing I know, it's like I'm here.
It's 1:00 in the morning.
This is fun, right?
I learned that.
Sell some beer, Rebecca.
Cold beer here. Get your hot dog and...
[HARMON] Cold beer!
Hot dogs and cold beer here.
[HARMON] I saw it with Rebecca.
Rebecca probably lived a year longer...
I mean, we don't know this, but probably
a year longer than she would have.
[LIBBY] She was determined to win.
And she'd be like,
"I am going to ride this tiger."
She'd be in the room by herself.
I'd have her food in there,
and I'd hear her going,
"I'm gonna ride this tiger." And she...
It was like she was just
giving herself this pep talk.
I do remember
one of the last times I was with her.
She could barely talk.
And she told me she was scared.
[NIGHT TRAIN] It was hell.
But I could do it if she could.
So, more and more towards the end,
we had the family... family hot dog.
And she just... It was like
it was the greatest thing on Earth.
And I'm sure it was hot dogs, ballpark.
They'd listen to the games.
She would always have the games on.
[RADIO ANNOUNCER] Still going.
Looks up and...
[MIKE] She really couldn't navigate.
She was most comfortable with the sounds.
She loved the sounds of a ballpark.
[NIGHT TRAIN] In her mind,
that shadow and that pull existed,
but very differently.
We never really fully got to see it.
[INTERVIEWER] Did you see your dad in her?
[REBECCA] I like to think about
what I'll do if I run a team someday.
Like, I've got this one idea
where you put Slip 'N Slides
all along the sidelines of a field,
and you soap them up and let kids slide
and sit in the sun while the game's
going on right beside them.
[MIKE] "I look at a baseball field,
and I see this piece of land
that's everybody's land."
"And every field I see
has a piece of my family in it."
[REBECCA] I know this sounds corny,
but I see my grandfather out there
walking on the grass with his peg leg.
I see this place where you can be a child
somewhere besides your own home.
And who made this place that way?
I love him for that.
And I loved her for that too.
Oh, my God in heaven.
I'm not crying, Rebecca.
I just got something in my eye.
She would have taken no prisoners
with this one.
She'd have already be on her fifth line.
"You're crying, Daddy."
[SNIFFLES] Well, that's the way it is
when you're a father.
Oh the streets of Rome
Are filled with rubble...
[DANIELS] Mike and Libby's plan
for the RV trip
was to listen
to every Bob Dylan album ever recorded.
[INTERVIEWER] What does "RV" stand for?
Rebecca Veeck.
[DANIELS] But mostly, they ended up
talking about Rebecca.
We were lucky to have her
for those 27 years.
And, I mean, there's really
nowhere else you can go.
[MIKE] I had a meteor.
[LAUGHING] I just was like...
I just never knew what she was gonna say.
She promised
She'd be right there with me
When I paint my masterpiece
[DANIELS] The thing
about second chances is
you never know
where they're going to come from.
[MIKE] Step into my office.
He called me one day out of the blue.
Out of the blue.
And said, "This one feels pretty good."
[MIKE] Wait till I show you
the new fireworks.
They are unbelievable.
You've never seen anything like it.
[LIBBY] He's the Pied Piper.
And he'll be that,
you know, until he's gone.
[MIKE] So, all this,
you think to yourself,
"Where do I fit in?"
That's the thing.
I'd just like to spend one year
where I get to work for you.
With you, but for you.
It would be an honor for me.
Everything is gonna sound
Like a rhapsody
When I paint my masterpiece
[MIKE] My dad used to say,
"A hustler's not a con man.
The hustler believes."
My dad was a hustler. We're all hustlers.
We believe.
I'll write you a letter
I can't hold a pen
Someone's got a stamp
That I can borrow
I promise not to blow
The address again
Lights that flash in the evening
Through a crack in the drapes
Jesus rides beside me
He never buys any smokes
Rebecca, she's my rainy day woman
She's always there
Whenever I'm in need of a good time
She's there to ease my mind
She hold me tight
Hold me oh so near
When the forecast looks like tears
Come a-callin'
Before they start a-fallin'
Oh Rebecca
Looks like rain
Oh Rebecca
It looks like rain
Whether or not she's on my mind
She's waiting in the shadows
When the sun does shine
And she'll be there
When my world ain't clear
Clouded mind and tears like rain
There's not a one
That can ease the pain
Like my backdoor love
My sweet, young Rebecca
Oh Rebecca
It looks like rain
Oh Rebecca
Looks like rain
Let it rain