Five years after his death, Bill Veeck was elected to the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
The two-time owner of the White Sox (also with ownership of St. Louis Browns, Cleveland and the minor-league Milwaukee Brewers) was the last of the “small-time” or “common-touch” owners now made obsolete by free agency.
He found quick success in both of his stints as White Sox owner. In 1959, he was finally handed the keys — the first non-Comiskey owner ever — just before Spring Training, and the White Sox went on to win the pennant. In 1977, just his second full season of his 1970s ownership of the club, Veeck’s novel “Rent-a-Player” scheme of picking up players on free agency salary drives paid off to the tune of 90 wins — considerably more than anyone anticipated for his rag-tag band.
Veeck was also, hands-down, the most novel, innovative and fun owner in baseball history. His promotions remain legend (fan managing, Martians landing, exploding scoreboards, a dozen or more ethnic nights, Eddie Gaedel activated for a game), likely never to be repeated in the game.