From SABR member Roland Hemond, this year’s recipient of the National Baseball Hall of Fame’s Buck O’Neil Lifetime Achievement Award, as told to Brett Ballantini at CSNChicago.com on June 7:
Many things come to mind when I think back on the 1977 season, pride and fatigue among them.
But first and foremost has to be the experience working with owner Bill Veeck. I thought about it the other day: I had five years with Bill, but it felt like 10. He wouldn’t let anything slow him down and as the man Bill considered his “legs,” I had to hustle at full speed just to keep up.
Bill had stepped in to save the White Sox from leaving Chicago for Seattle in 1975, scraping together his very last penny to do so. But just as the keys to Comiskey Park were being handed to him, the free agency era began. The days of a man making baseball ownership his sole business were over, and Veeck soon found he couldn’t keep up in the new financial climate.
After a painful, last-place season in 1976, we hatched a new plan that we hoped would allow us to compete against owners with deeper pockets. The idea was to pick up as many players as possible who were in their contract year. We might only “rent” them for one season, but the players would be hard-driven to earn their next contracts.
Originally published: June 7, 2011. Last Updated: June 7, 2011.