BY KYLE STOCK
The Post and Courier
Mike Veeck walks into a room full of 1,500 Minnesota Lutherans ...
Sounds like the setup for a joke right?
It definitely sounds that way when told by Veeck, marketing guru and part-owner of the Charleston RiverDogs baseball team. The Lutherans hired Veeck to spread his own particular gospel crafted in the quirky religion of minor league baseball: Fun is good.
It's a set of guidelines that Veeck, 56, has used to build a string of successful franchises, and now it's a book. Apparently, the crowd was not impressed. To put it bluntly, Veeck bombed, which he now finds hysterical. The tale, as Veeck recounts it, is interrupted by a wheezing belly laugh - a Chicago laugh. And thus the doyen of the diamond illustrates one of his mantras: Don't be afraid of failure.
Veeck, undoubtedly, has failed. He was virtually run out of Chicago in the late-1970s for blowing up a bunch of disco records in the outfield at a White Sox game, a club then owned by his Hall-of-Fame father, Bill Veeck. He had short tenures at a number of other ball clubs. And then there are the failed gags, including "Voodoo Night" on Good Friday and "Enron Night," when fans were charged double the listed price on the tickets and the attendance announced over the public-address system was about eight times the number of actual seats. Veeck thought it was a home-run promotion, but the weeks of vitriolic letters told a different story.
"We got e-mails that said, 'My father lost his life's savings to Enron,' " Veeck explained. "But that was exactly the point."