The 1948 baseball photo with a radical message of acceptance, Wash Post, October 9, 2023

Steve Gromek and Larry Doby embrace after Game 4 of the 1948 World Series. (Bettmann Archive)

The 1948 baseball photo with a radical message of acceptance
By Frederic J. Frommer
Washington Post, October 9, 2023

The link is here

Like Jackie Robinson before him, Larry Doby — the first Black player in baseball’s American League — endured racist taunts from fans and opposing players, discrimination in hotels and restaurants and even hostility from his teammates. For Doby, a World Series embrace with a White teammate was an antidote to that torrent of abuse.

Doby, who made his major league debut in July 1947, less than three months after Robinson broke Major League Baseball’s color barrier, had a breakout season the next year, leading the Cleveland Indians to the AL pennant. In Game 4 of the 1948 World Series — 75 years ago Monday — his 425-foot solo homer to right-center proved to be the difference in a 2-1 victory over the Boston Braves and their ace, 24-game winner Johnny Sain. After the game, Doby threw his arm around winning pitcher Steve Gromek in the clubhouse, and the men embraced, cheek-to-cheek, exuberant smiles etched on their faces.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer took a photo of that moment, which the Associated Press transmitted to newspapers across the country — the 1940s version of an image going viral. Many Americans saw it as a symbol of progress at a time when Black players were barely tolerated, while others recoiled from it.

“That was a feeling from within, the human side of two people, one Black and one White,” Doby said years later, according to the New York Times. “That made up for everything I went through. I would always relate back to that whenever I was insulted or rejected from hotels. I’d always think about that picture. It would take away all the negatives.”

The embrace “was special because it was the first time anyone showed feeling toward me as far as I’m concerned. I mean, toward an African American,” Doby told the Chicago Tribune in 1995. “Until then they had been distant, cool, and [Gromek] got criticized for what he did back home. … I think it was the first picture taken of that type, the first picture of a black American and a white American embracing each other going out all over the country.”

Gromek’s complete-game win in front of more than 80,000 at Cleveland Stadium that afternoon gave the Indians a 3-1 series lead. They would go on to win the series in six games — the franchise’s most recent World Series title. Doby’s homer was the first by a Black player in the World Series, and he led all Cleveland regulars that series with a .318 batting average.

“That was probably the most special moment in his career,” Doby’s son, Larry Doby Jr., told the Athletic in 2020. “It was just two guys who were expressing an unbridled joy over accomplishing a common goal. I think that picture really encapsulates what that journey and the hardships meant to him.”

The racist incident that shook baseball nine years before integration

Gromek, who died in 2002, told the Plain Dealer that “it seemed in the picture like I was kissing him. I was being interviewed in front of my locker, and somebody asked Larry to come over. He put his arm around me and squeezed me so hard I thought he was going to break my ribs. We were both so happy.”

But not everyone was happy. That winter, Gromek came home to a cold reception in Hamtramck, Mich., and angry letters flooded his mailbox. He once recalled walking into a neighborhood bar that offseason.

“I saw a guy I had known for more than 10 years, a guy I had played ball with,” he said, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. “I said hello, and he ignored me.” The bartender told Gromek what was eating the man — “Oh, Christ, it’s that picture you took with Larry Doby.”

“So then the guy told me, ‘Jesus, you could have just shook his hand,’ ” Gromek continued. “But then this other friend of mine says, ‘If I was in Steve’s shoes and Doby did what he did, I would have kissed him.’ ”

“Some of his friends really reacted negatively,” son Greg Gromek told the Guardian in 2016. “They said things that were sort of shocking to him. What bothered him was that these were his friends. He kept thinking, ‘What kind of friend are you to say these things?’ He even got death threats. That’s what was really shocking.”

On the other hand, some Black Americans found the photo inspiring.

“That picture of Gromek and Doby has unmistakable flesh and blood cheeks pressed close together, brawny arms tightly clasped, equally wide grins,” Marjorie McKenzie wrote in the Pittsburgh Courier, a Black newspaper, as recounted by the Times. “The chief message of the Doby-Gromek picture is acceptance.”

A trying rookie season

The Indians signed Doby in July 1947. Unlike Robinson, Doby came straight from the Negro Leagues, without any preparation in the minor league system. He got a cold shoulder when Cleveland’s player-manager, Lou Boudreau, introduced him to his new teammates, as he told the (Newark) Star-Ledger’s Jerry Izenberg.

“I walked down that line and stuck out my hand, and very few hands came back in return,” recalled Doby, who died in 2003. “Most of the ones that did were cold-fish handshakes, along with a look that said, ‘You don’t belong here.’

“Now, I couldn’t believe how this was. I put on my uniform, and I went out on the field to warm up, but nobody wanted to warm up with me. I had never been so alone in my life. I stood there alone in front of the dugout for five minutes. Then Joe Gordon, the second baseman who would become my friend, came up to me and asked, ‘Hey, rookie, you gonna just stand there, or do you want to throw a little?’ I will never forget that man.”

11 weeks after Jackie Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby arrived

Less than a month into his big league career, the Indians came to Washington to play the Senators (also known as the Nationals), and some local fans used the occasion to pressure their home team to integrate. “Cleveland has a colored ball player — why not Washington?” one placard read. “Brooklyn signed a Negro player — why don’t the Nats?”

Doby saw the signs when he got out of a cab and told Gordon, his closest friend on the team, “Jeez, Joe, I don’t want to be a symbol — I just want to be a big league player,” according to Washington Post sports columnist Shirley Povich. The Senators averaged more than 16,000 in attendance for the three-game series — compared with their average crowd of just over 11,000. But the local pressure campaign didn’t work — Washington would be one of the last teams to sign a Black player, in 1954. (Before Doby joined the Indians, the Senators passed up an opportunity to sign him.)

Doby hit just .156 in 32 at-bats his first season, mostly as a pinch hitter, and there was some doubt as to whether he would return in 1948. The Indians brought in Tris Speaker, the Hall of Fame outfielder and former Cleveland manager, to tutor Doby as he transitioned from second base to center field. On the surface, this move seemed sure to add more stress on the lonely young player. Speaker, who was from Hubbard, Tex., had allegedly once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan and referred to the Civil War as “The War of Northern Aggression.”

Yet the two got along well.

“In another year or two he could be the best player in this league,” Speaker told Povich early in Doby’s career. “I’ve never seen a young ballplayer with such a high potential. I get a personal pleasure out of working with a kid who can do so many things so well. I used to dream of that kind of rookie when I was managing the Indians.”

The 1948 Indians won the American League pennant and the World Series. Larry Doby is the fourth from the left in the top row, Steve Gromek is third from the left in the middle row. (AP)
‘The joy just takes over’

Doby hit his stride in 1948, batting .301 with a team-high nine triples to help the Indians dethrone the New York Yankees for the AL pennant — Cleveland’s first since 1920, when Speaker was player-manager. In July 1948, Doby finally had a Black teammate when Indians owner Bill Veeck signed legendary pitcher Satchel Paige.

While baseball was slowly shedding its Jim Crow past, Southern politicians were working to preserve Jim Crow policies in their states. The same month that Paige joined Cleveland, Southern segregationist Democrats bolted from the party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, furious at the party’s bold civil rights platform, and put forth Strom Thurmond as their “Dixiecrat” nominee. Earlier that year, President Harry S. Truman had hastened the party’s rupture byproposing a set of far-reaching civil rights measures.

Baseball’s first plan for Negro League stars: A separate Hall of Fame wing

On July 15, the day after the dramatic party breakup, Doby and the Indians came to Philadelphia’s Shibe Park for a key matchup, clinging to a half-game lead over the second-place Philadelphia Athletics. The Indians swept the doubleheader, with Doby going 3 for 10 with a double and a home run. Gromek pitched a four-hitter in the opener, and Paige won his first major league game in the nightcap.

Paige would be a solid contributor that season, going 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA. But it was Doby who helped carry the team to the pennant. As Boudreau said in the stretch drive of September: “Without Doby, we would not be fighting for the pennant. We probably would have been in fourth place.”

Cleveland finished in a tie for first place with the Boston Red Sox (there were no divisions back then), so they met for a winner-take-all game at Fenway Park on Oct. 4 to decide the pennant. A Red Sox victory would have led to an all-Boston World Series. But the Indians thrashed those Beantown dreams with an 8-3 victory. Doby hit a pair of doubles. For the second straight year, an integrated team went to the World Series, following the Brooklyn Dodgers’ National League pennant in 1947.

After his 1948 World Series heroics, Doby, a future Hall of Famer, would play another 11 seasons. A seven-time MLB all-star, his best year was probably 1950, when he hit .326 with 25 homers and 102 RBI while leading the AL with a .442 on-base percentage and slugging .545. When the Indians won another pennant in 1954, Doby led the AL in home runs and RBI and finished second in the MVP vote to Yankees catcher Yogi Berra.

In 1978, Veeck, then the owner of the Chicago White Sox, named Doby his manager — making him, coincidentally, also the majors’ second Black manager, following Frank Robinson. At the time, Doby reflected on the 30-year-old photo, but this time he put himself in Gromek’s shoes.

“I don’t know what he thought later that night when he went home,” Doby told the Chicago Tribune, “but when you win, color sort of disappears because the joy in you comes out. At that particular moment, I don’t think you have any prejudice even if it’s in you. The joy just takes over.”

The inside story of how Larry Doby broke the American League’s color line 76 years ago – Terry Pluto July 5, 2023

Larry Doby in his first MLB game with Cleveland on July 5, 1947.

The inside story of how Larry Doby broke the American League’s color line 76 years ago
by Terry Pluto, Wednesday July 5, 2023
The link is here

11 weeks after Jackie Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby arrived By Frederic J. Frommer/Washington Post July 5, 2022


Larry Doby threw out the first pitch before the 1997 MLB All-Star Game in Cleveland. (Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

11 weeks after Jackie Robinson’s debut, Larry Doby arrived
By Frederic J. Frommer/Washington Post July 5, 2022
Team owner Bill Veeck recalled receiving 20,000 letters after signing Doby, “most of them in violent and sometimes obscene protest. Over a period of time I answered all. In each answer, I included a paragraph congratulating them on being wise enough to have chosen parents so obviously to their liking.” “Signing Doby was Veeck’s first defining moment as a major league owner,” wrote Paul Dickson in “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick.” The move “gave him a voice as a progressive and social critic.”
The link is here

Bill Veeck and the 1948 Cleveland Indians aggregation

1 Bill Veeck. The Man Who Conquered Cleveland and Changed Baseball Forever
2 Bill Veeck from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History
3 1948 Cleveland Indians Season from Wikipedia
4 Alone in the Shadows: The Triumph of Larry Doby
5 1948 Cleveland Indians Photo Gallery
6 Veeck as in Wreck – Chapters 7 and 8 (1948 Cleveland Indians)
7 Bill Veeck Documentary
8 Satchel Paige makes debut with Cleveland Indians
9 Satchel Paige – a Short Video

1948 Cleveland Indians Documentaries

  1. Bill Veeck Documentary

Exerpt from “Veeck – A Man for Any Season” produced in 1985

The link is here

2. Satchel Paige – a Short Video

Promotional video for “Satchel: The Life and Times of an American Legend” a book by Larry Tye

A short overview of Satchel Paige, one of the heroes of the 1948 Cleveland Indians

The link is here

3. Alone in the Shadows: The Triumph of Larry Doby

A National History Day documentary by Gabe Pincus, Jacob Hutt, and Adam Ratner about the struggles Larry Doby overcame as the second African-American Major League Baseball player. Placed 1st in Ohio and 14th at Nationals.

The link is here


Bill Veeck. The Man Who Conquered Cleveland and Changed Baseball Forever

The .pdf is here

Bill Veeck. The Man Who Conquered Cleveland and Changed Baseball Forever.

By Bill Lubinger

The morning of Oct. 12, 1948, was chilly and battleship gray.

But the city of Cleveland may have never felt so glorious; its residents never so proud.

Estimates vary. Some say more than 300,000 fans jammed the sidewalks of Euclid Avenue, from Public Square to University Circle. Others put the number closer to 500,000.

They lined the city’s main artery, squeezing parts of the two-lane thoroughfare down to one, all to celebrate their championship baseball team.

The Indians had finally won a World Series championship – their first since 1920 and, as the cruel baseball Gods would have it more than six decades later, their last.     

Convertibles carrying the Indians’ players and their wives and city leaders paraded the 107 blocks past a cheering throng.

“I remember getting off a train and riding in an open car down Euclid Avenue at 8 o’clock in the morning,” recalls Al Rosen, one of only three players from that team still living. “The town lined up on either side of the street. It was remarkable. The people turned out en masse.”

Teammate Eddie Robinson, now 91 and retired in Fort Worth, Texas, still remembers how the sidewalk crowds were elbow to elbow. Some revelers perched themselves on parked cars and buses.

“It was wonderful,” he says. “It was a wonderful year.”

A year largely orchestrated by a chain-smoking man in the lead car with reddish hair, a wooden leg from a World War II injury and a huge smile that matched his gregarious personality.

No, not Indians’ 31-year-old shortstop/manager and World Series hero Lou Boudreau. Not Cleveland Mayor Tom Burke. But team owner Bill Veeck, who left an indelible mark on Cleveland and Major League Baseball.

“Maverick” is the term biographers and others still use to describe him, because he had the strength and conviction to follow his own path despite insults and criticism from traditionalists.

While other team owners scoffed and ridiculed him for what they considered low-brow publicity stunts, Veeck introduced many of the fan-friendly promotions that still make heading to the ballpark an experience that transcends the playing field. 

In keeping with his own social conscience, he signed the American League’s first African-American player and continued as a pioneer in civil rights activism throughout his career.

And, of course, it was under his stewardship that Cleveland Indians’ fans last reveled in a world title. 

“I think winning the World Series put Cleveland on the map,” Robinson says. “I think Bill Veeck and the stuff that he did during the year, all the promotions he had, I think Cleveland became super big-league in a hurry.”

Cleveland celebrated a baseball champion that fall day, but it also celebrated itself.

The city was a much different place back then. Vibrant. Nationally respected. And much, much bigger.

Cleveland, named an All-America City for the first time in 1949, was also a burgeoning industrial force at the time, built on shipping, automotive and iron and steel before the decline began in the 1960s. With more than half of the North American population within 500 miles of Public Square, Cleveland was considered prime real estate.

But if the baseball championship was what truly defined the city as “big league,” then William Louis Veeck Jr. was the creative mind that wrote and directed the script.


Veeck wound up in Cleveland by way of Chicago, where he was born and grew up in a baseball-happy family. (William Veeck Sr. was a former sports writer who built the Chicago Cubs into pennant winners in the early 1930s.)

Veeck desperately wanted to own a major-league team and apparently came within 24 hours of landing the Pittsburgh Pirates.

According to Paul Dickson’s biography, “Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick,” the Pirates’ $2 million asking price was too high. So Veeck set his sights on Cleveland, which was considered a better business location because it wasn’t as dependent on one industry – in Pittsburgh’s case, steel.

Weeks before buying the Indians, Veeck did his homework, taking cabs and streetcars around the city, talking to people in restaurants, bars and social clubs for feedback on the team and their ballpark experiences.

Veeck discovered, Dickson writes, that Clevelanders loved their team but not the group that had owned it since 1928. He was stunned to learn that balls hit into the stands had to be thrown back, that games weren’t broadcast on the radio and that most cab drivers and bartenders had no idea when the Indians were playing in town.

With that as the backdrop, Veeck, on June 22, 1946, got an investor group comprised mainly of Chicago bankers – but also included comedian Bob Hope – to buy the Indians for $1.54 million.

For some perspective, Forbes magazine recently estimated the Indians’ franchise value at more than $400 million. And that $1.5 million for the Tribe in the post-war era? That might buy a team a very low-level free agent today.     

The Indians were a fifth-place team the season before. Between that weak finish and the team’s obvious marketing void, Veeck had much work to do. He got right to it.  

Veeck talked to fans and, more importantly, he listened to his customers. To draw more fans to the ballpark, no detail was too small.

He added mirrors to the ladies’ rooms when he found out there weren’t any. He often sat in the bleachers with the common fans. When he discovered the ballpark announcer couldn’t be heard clearly way out there, he had the sound system fixed.

Within weeks of buying the team, games began being broadcast on radio. He added special ladies’ days, enticing them with free hard-to-get nylons or orchids imported from Hawaii. He had National League scores posted in the ballpark, added clerks to make it easier to order tickets by phone, spiffed up the stadium ushers in uniforms and polished shoes, ran game-day buses to and from rural areas and paid special attention to the stadium food, especially the hot dogs, peanuts and mustard.

In-game entertainment and post-game fireworks became staples of the Veeck-led version of Major League Baseball, just as they are today. 

Veeck also made himself available to any group that needed a luncheon or dinner speaker – and not just in Cleveland, but regionally, from Erie to Buffalo to Cincinnati.

He schmoozed the media and was even more gracious with fans, listing his home number in the phone book and often standing outside the ballpark gates to thank them as they left. He was a player-friendly owner who even threw batting practice at times.

As his plaque in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., reads, Veeck was “a champion of the little guy.”

All along, Veeck fielded criticism from fellow major-league owners who took shots at him. Baseball was serious business, the national pasttime, not a circus sideshow. (As owner of the St. Louis Browns, he once sent a midget to the plate to draw a walk.)

But fans loved it.

Once the Indians moved all their home games to massive Municipal Stadium (where Cleveland Browns Stadium now stands), the turnstiles spun. Previously, the team had played at 22,500-seat League Park on the city’s East Side and in the 78,000-seat Municipal Stadium only on weekends, holidays and when larger crowds were expected.

In 1946, the club finished sixth but drew more than a million fans for the first time in team history.

Veeck and his team also made history in 1947 by signing Larry Doby from the Negro Leagues’ Newark Eagles, making him the first African-American in the American League. It was just 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson of the Brooklyn Dodgers became baseball’s first black player.

Many major-league owners railed against teams hiring black players because they had their own self-interest to protect. Negro League teams rented their ballparks. As black stars moved from the Negro Leagues to the big leagues, the Negro League games drew fewer fans, generating less rental income for the ballpark owners.

Former teammate Eddie Robinson believes Doby, who wrestled with the same racism and for-whites-only segregation, didn’t get the recognition he deserved because Jackie Robinson was the first.

“Doby handled himself well,” says Eddie Robinson, who lived in a Rocky River apartment when he played for the Indians. “He took the jabs and all from the visiting players and the fans, and went right along and did his work just like (Jackie) Robinson did.”

(“It wasn’t very pleasant being a Jew at the same time, either,” says Al Rosen.)

By the time he retired from baseball, Doby, who died in 2003, was a seven-time All-Star outfielder who spent 10 of his 13 major-league seasons in Cleveland.

Larry Doby Jr. was born after his father was through playing, so his impressions are based on stories his dad told him.

While some teammates refused to shake his hand when he was introduced, there were others, such as Bob Lemon, Jim Hegan and Joe Gordon, “who didn’t care where he came from or what color his skin was,” says Doby Jr.

“It was tough, but there were a lot of good guys who reached out to him and made the tough times not so tough.”

Eddie Robinson also remembers Doby being generally well-accepted by the team.

“Well, there was some southern boys, of course, if you were from the South and they were bringing up a black guy on to the team,” he says, “it was something different.”

Eddie Robinson, as his thick drawl reveals, was one of those southern boys. He admits to having to adjust to a black man in the clubhouse.

“Well, it bothered me just like it bothered everybody else,” he says. “It was something that was going to happen, so you sucked it up and went along with it and it turned out to be very good.”

What troubled Robinson more was that Boudreau replaced him with Doby in the lineup just two days after the manager reassured him he was the team’s first baseman. 

“That’s how it bothered me most,” he says.

Doby lived with a family in Shaker Heights for part of his time in Cleveland. Although the city was – and largely remains – racially-divided, Doby was welcomed by Northeast Ohio, according to his son.

“I’m going to tell you what he told me,” says Doby Jr. “My father was the kind of guy who didn’t talk about the past much, but here’s what he told me about Cleveland. He said he never got booed there, ever. So that, to me, sums up what he felt about that city and what that city felt about him.”

When the 1947 season ended, the Indians had improved to fourth place and drew 1.5 million fans – second most in the league. Veeck continued to put the pieces together both on and off the field.

“Bill was a great showman,” Rosen says. “Probably the best that baseball’s ever known.”

And the great showman’s biggest show was about to arrive.

The 1948 Indians featured five future Hall of Famers: pitchers Bob Feller, and Lemon, Doby in the outfield, Joe Gordon, a second baseman the Indians obtained from the New York Yankees in a trade, and Boudreau, the shortstop/manager. The team also acquired Gene Bearden, an unheralded knuckleballer who would become the team’s World Series hero. 

About midway through the season, Veeck, in another controversial move, would add a sixth future Hall of Famer.

The Indians needed an effective reliever. Veeck’s solution was 42-year-old Satchell Paige, a star of the Negro Leagues who was signed by the Indians on his birthday.

Again, Veeck was criticized. Just another cheap publicity stunt to sell tickets, other owners claimed.

But Veeck’s commitment to civil rights was genuine and deep-rooted. He had joined the NAACP after arriving in Cleveland, according to Dickson’s memoir, and appeared in an NAACP recruiting poster with Doby and Paige.

By the time he sold the Indians after the 1949 season for $2.2 million, Veeck had integrated every level of ballpark operations, from security to ushers to vendors and the front office. In fact, he had hired Olympic gold medal-winner Harrison Dillard in the team’s public relations office.

Fans filled the ballpark, but not because Paige was an over-the-hill freak show with the crazy windup, high leg kick and something he called a “hesitation pitch.” Paige went 6-1 down the season’s stretch run, including a 1-0 three-hitter over Chicago in front of a record night-game crowd of 78,382.

The Indians wound up tied for first with the Boston Red Sox, resulting in a one-game playoff at Fenway Park. The Tribe took that one, 8-3, to advance to the World Series against the National League’s Boston Braves.  

Veeck’s Indians beat the Braves in six games. Doby became the first black man to homer in a World Series. And Game Five, in Cleveland, drew a record 86,288 fans.

The Indians drew 2.6 million fans that season, a major-league record that stood for 14 years. 

“The team began to play well and (the players) believed in themselves,” says Rosen, who got called up from the minors late that season and played behind third baseman Ken Keltner. “It was all very magical, and when someone reminds of it I get chills.”

Major League Baseball has expanded to more cities. Players, who once took part-time jobs in the offseason to help pay the bills, are now extremely well paid, to the point where securing other work isn’t necessary.

Although some of the rules have changed, the game is relatively the same. But fans experienced their Tribe much differently from their family rooms.

Now, all but a few Indians’ games are broadcast on television. Fans can watch every inning of an entire season in their living room if they so choose. No so in 1948. The first telecast by Ohio’s first TV station (WEWS) didn’t occur until 1947. So televised Indians’ games were rare. 

“It was all radio,” remembers Carl Parise of Mayfield Heights, describing what it was like to hear announcers Jack Graney and Jimmy Dudley call the games.

“You’d be listening to them on the radio, they’d have you up out of your seat. They were just great,” says Parise, who was 8 years old when the Tribe last won a World Series. “You’ve got to remember, if you were sports fans back then, you were spoiled. The Browns and Indians were winners.”

As was Cleveland – largely because of a fun-loving, risk-taking, marketing genius named Veeck. 

To read more about Bill Veeck and the 1948 Cleveland Indians, click here

Bill Veeck from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

Bill Veeck from the Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

The link is here

Veeck, William “Bill” Louis (9 February 1914-2 January 1986) was the owner of the CLEVELAND INDIANS from 1946 until 1949, and assembled the world champion 1948 team. He signed LARRY DOBY† as the first African American player in the American league in 1947 as well as legendary Negro League pitcher LEROY “SATCHEL” PAIGE† in 1948. Veeck is often best known as the innovator of stadium promotions, such as fireworks nights and gate giveaways.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, to William Veeck Sr. and Grace DeForest, the elder Veeck became president of the Chicago Cubs in 1917 after a career as a sportswriter. His son broke into baseball working for him as a $15 per week office boy with the team. Veeck Jr.’s most notable contribution to the Cubs was when he planted the famous ivy on the outfield wall at Wrigley Field in 1937. Within a few years, at the age of 27, he purchased his own team, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers franchise in the American Association. By the time he was 32 years old, he led the syndicate that purchased the Cleveland Indians for $2.2 million.

Veeck married Eleanor Raymond in 1935. He served as a Marine in World War II. His right leg was injured at Bougainville in the South Pacific in 1943 and was amputated in 1947.

In addition to bringing the world championship in Cleveland in 1948, Bill Veeck also helped the Indians shatter season attendance figures with 2,620,627 fans that year. Large crowds, which at times topped 80,000 per game, were entertained by fireworks displays and minstrels that wandered around the grandstands. Women were treated to imported orchids from Hawaii and families could enjoy an in-park babysitting service during Veeck’s ownership tenure.

When a night watchman at a local Chevrolet plant, Joe Early, complained to the Cleveland Press that teams spent too much time honoring wealthy players, Bill Veeck decided to honor Joe Early. While much of the night included tongue-in-cheek gags, Veeck made sure that Early received a new convertible and several other prizes.

Veeck made several lasting contributions to the Indians, such as their move to Tucson, Arizona, for spring training in 1947, where they would stay until 1992. No contribution was likely more important than the integration of the Indians and the American League in 1947 with Larry Doby. In his autobiography, Veeck- As In Wreck, Veeck expressed trepidation about the addition of Doby. “If Jackie Robinson was the ideal man to break the color line, Brooklyn was also the ideal place. I wasn?t that sure about Cleveland.” He claimed he received about 20,000 letters that protested the signing of Doby, yet noted that they came from across the country. Veeck actually claimed that he planned to buy the Philadelphia Phillies in 1943 and stock the team with African American players, only to be blocked by Major League Baseball. There is no definitive evidence that he ever did more than discuss this move.

When the Indians did not win the pennant in 1949, Veeck held a mock funeral in center field and buried the pennant from the prior year. After the season he was forced to sell the team because he needed to liquidate his assets for the settlement for his divorce from his first wife Eleanor. In the fall of 1949 he met Mary Frances Ackerman, whom he married in 1950.

Veeck did not stay away from baseball for long – he bought the St. Louis Browns in 1951 for $1.5 million. During his first year as owner, he completed one of his most notable stunts when he arranged for 65 lb., three-foot, seven-inch Eddie Gaedel to have one at bat – he walked on four pitches. He sold the Browns in 1953 and they left St. Louis after the season.

In 1958 Veeck and his partners purchased the Chicago White Sox. One of his famous additions to the team was the $300,000 “exploding scoreboard” at Comiskey Park with rockets and rotating pinwheels. Veeck owned the team until 1961 and sold it primarily due to health reasons.

Veeck was coaxed out of retirement in 1969 to run the Suffolk Race Track in Boston. By 1975 he was again convinced to buy the White Sox, which he sold in 1980.

Veeck had eight children from his two marriages including four daughters, Marya, Lisa, Juliana and Ellen and four sons, Michael, Gregory, Christopher and Peter. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1991, five years after he died of a heart attack in Chicago. His body was cremated after his death.

Veeck, Bill and Ed Linn. Veeck – As in Wreck (1962).

Eskenazi, Gerald. Bill Veeck: A Baseball Legend (1987).



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