College to Honor Veeck with Distinguished Communicator Award

The College of Charleston’s Department of Communication will honor Charleston RiverDogs president Mike Veeck with its Distinguished Communicator Award. Veeck will deliver a speech at 4 p.m., April 11, at the Stern Center Ballroom on the College of Charleston campus.

Veeck, who is part-owner of seven minor baseball teams, is one of the most innovative and dynamic people in professional sports. He has hired a dog and a pig to deliver baseballs to the home-plate umpire, a Roman Catholic nun to give massages, mimes to perform instant replays, and locked out fans to set an all-time attendance for the fewest people at a game. Veeck is a winner of the annual Larry MacPhail Award for excellence in promotions in minor league baseball.

Veeck is the third generation in his family to serve as a baseball executive. His grandfather, Bill, Sr. was president of the Chicago Cubs. His father, Bill, Jr., a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame, owned the Cleveland Indians, St. Louis Browns, and Chicago White Sox. As owner of the Indians, he signed Larry Doby, the first African-American to play in the American League. He later established another first by sending a midget to bat in a major league game.

While working for his father in Chicago in 1979, Mike created Disco Demolition Night, the most infamous promotion in big-league history. When thousands of disco albums were blown up between games of a doubleheader, fans rushed the field and did not leave before the scheduled start of the second game, forcing the White Sox to forfeit. Veeck later signed the first female minor league first-base coach, the first woman to pitch professionally in an all-male league, and the first blind radio analyst.

In 2005, Veeck was recognized as one of the 25 most influential people in baseball over the last quarter century. He has advised companies like 3M and General Mills, been the profiles of stories on 60 Minutes, Sports Illustrated and Fortune, taught college courses in marketing, and was The Citadel Graduate College’s commencement speaker in 2010. He is the author of Fun is Good: How to Create Joy and Passion in Your Workplace.

“Mike Veeck’s remarkable career is grounded in the fundamental belief that humor has a powerful influence on communication,” said Beth Goodier, chair of the Communication Department.

Veeck will be the 11th recipient of the Distinguished Communicator award. Other winners include Sports Illustrated senior writer Gary Smith; Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker; satirist Christopher Buckley; former NBC White House correspondent John Palmer; and former U.S. Sen. “Fritz” Hollings.

The Department of Communication is one of the largest majors of the College of Charleston. The department enrolls more than 800 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs. Students in the department study such subjects as public relations, journalism, political communication, interpersonal communication, and health communication.

Veeck’s speech is open to the public. There is no charge for admission.