Bill Veeck, a scrappy, showmanlike Major League Baseball impresario who survived serious injuries as a Marine during World War II, would be a tough act for any kid to follow. But we can’t say that one of his sons didn’t try. That would be Mike Veeck, the subject of the spirited new documentary “The Saint of Second Chances.”
Now in his seventies, Mike is an engaging screen presence in this story, whether he appears in his own role or in the Charlie Day re-enactments (“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”). The film was directed by Morgan Neville (“20 Feet From Stardom”) and Jeff Malmberg (“Marwencol”) and is a bit fancier than their previous work.
But it turns out that fantasy is a perfect fit for Veecks. We see that Bill thought “the most pleasant way to spend an afternoon or evening” was at the ballpark. In the 1970s, ruling Chicago’s Comiskey Park with the city’s second banana MLB team, the White Sox, he was a washed-up marketing innovator. Mike tried to match it: in 1979, a disastrous gathering in Comiskey called Disco Demolition Night, where a burning record turned into a riot that resulted in dozens of arrests, was Mike’s idea . The fiasco had a deserved blowback, which sent young Veeck into a long tailspin.
This film’s feel-good narrative essentially hinges on whether or not you believe Mike’s assertion that he wouldn’t have organized the event if he “thought it would hurt anyone.” ‘A”. Once Mike returned to the game years later – thanks to the Independent League ball organization – he brought the fun in eccentric ways, including a ball-carrying pig. Darryl Strawberry testifies here that Mike helped him love the game again. And the story of a personal tragedy in Mike’s family life is touching.
The second chance saint
Unclassified. Duration: 1 hour 33 minutes. Watch on Netflix.