FISHKILL, N.Y. — In baseball, the name Veeck has for decades been synonymous with fun. But now the son of the famous baseball man Bill Veeck and his partners are making sure their fans and employees are having more than just a good time at the ballpark.
Mike Veeck says fun is good, and he's worked to make America's pastime more fan-friendly. But his focus changed in what seemed like the blink of an eye.
"I had the perfect child on Tuesday," he recalls, "and on Wednesday, I had a child that I was going to watch go blind."
His daughter Rebecca was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa eight years ago. It is steadily stealing her sight, but it's giving Veeck another mission.
"Being executive VP, in charge of a long title, doesn't have anything to do with the way we all want to live our lives," he says.
Veeck co-owns six minor league teams with partners Marv Goldklang and actor Bill Murray. The teams count runs, hits and errors — and money for charity.
The tally so far: more than $1 million raised by the teams in the six communities where they play. Not bad for minor league squads, but what sets these teams apart is that they also give something more valuable — time. They require all their employees, like Jay Martyn, to devote one 40-hour work week a year to a local charity. Martyn mentors 10-year-old Tony Fileretto, who just lost his grandfather.
"I want to impact someone positively," says Martyn, "and, you know, hopefully change Tony's life for better for the rest of his life."
Martyn's presence, Tony says, is indeed changing his life.
"If I didn't have him, I'd probably be failing sixth grade," says Tony.
It's a win-win for Tony and Veeck's teams, as the volunteers build crucial relationships in the community that help the bottom line.
"If we spend more time doing things for other people, volunteering our time, putting our money where our mouth is, we prioritize in the workplace a lot better," says Veeck. "My hope long-term is that these folks will go out, hither and yon, and will spread the word."
Spread the word that in life, fun can be good work, too.
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