Morgan Neville and Jeff Malberg’s ‘The Saint of Second Chances’ is an inspiring story about Mike Veeck’s journey of filling the shoes of his father, Bill Veeck. The Netflix documentary was released on September 19, 2023, and has gained overall positive reviews from baseball fans worldwide.
Bill Veeck, a former World War 2 Marine, owned the Cleveland Indians, the St. Louis Browns, and the Chicago White Sox at various times. He is a notable contributor to the baseball sport, especially during his time with the Sox. ‘Wild Bill’ introduced a working barber in the outfield of the Comiskey Park, Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”, and even elephants – all for the enjoyment of the crowd.
While Bill managed the signings, his son Mike was responsible for coming up with new ideas. The two Veecks worked in tandem, and everything seemed to be a success until one night in 1979 when a riot broke out in the middle of a doubleheader. It left a crater in the hearts of both of them.
The Saint of Second Chances (2023) Cast
- Jeff Daniels, as The Narrator
- Mike Veeck
- Daryl Strawberry
- Ila Borders
- Dave Dombrowski
- Lamara Johnson
- Tony LaRussa
The Saint of Second Chances plot summary
Mike Veeck wanted “140%” to be out of his father’s shadow when the ‘owner’s son’ joined the baseball world. In the mid-1970s, things were looking rather dreary for the two-time Chicago White Sox owners as recession hit the country. There was also a new era of free agency, leading to dramatic increases in player salaries, bought by the reforms of Peter Suitz.
Sox finished third in the 1977 season, saving grace for the almost bankrupt Veecks. They continued promoting Comiskey Park tickets primarily through disco nights. However, it all reached a head in 1979 during which a local shock jock named Steve Dahl collaborated with Mike Veeck and hosted Disco Demolition. They were to set rock-music records on fire after people who got their own disco record got entry for just 98 cents.
Disco Demolition Night was a dark day for black rock music. Worse, it shattered Bill Veeck’s interest in baseball and the public’s goodwill of Comiskey. Financially incompetent in 1981, Bill retired as a promoter, sending the younger Veeck into a long tailspin for the DDN mishap. It took him 10 years following the death of his father to muster the courage to get back on the field and prove to the criticisers that ‘Veeck’ didn’t mean ‘wreck.’
The younger Veeck had to loan over a million dollars from his cousin in order to revolutionise the baseball game. He was the first person to sign a woman in a men’s team, Ila Borders, and also gave Daryl Strawberry a place in the St.Paul Saints despite his drug abuse history. However, he didn’t have a smooth sailing and sometimes had to prioritize his family for the love of the game.
The Saint of Second Chances Review: A home run by Netlfix
Bill Veeck believed the most “delightful way to spend an afternoon or evening” was with a game of baseball. With the though of impressing his father, Mike made a few gambits that usually worked until it didn’t. The Saint of Second Chances is a heartwarming story about hustle, family, passion for the sport, and most importantly, entertainment.
Charlie Day plays the role of Mike Veeck in recreations of the legend. However, the narrative revolves around Jeff Daniels’ interrogation of Veeck. The first 45 minutes is about the promoter’s ebbs and flows in the world of baseball starting from the Disco Demolition Night. The last 45 minutes is about his family: his wife Libby, his son William ‘Night Train’ Veeck, and his now-deceased daughter Rebecca.
The Saint of Second Chances is not the typical Netflix documentary with overloaded emotional scenes and shots. Rather, it is a peppy story about the Veceks. Mike is a good sport during the whole interview and his heartful laughs even when recollecting the most tense situations shows the reason why he was able to overcome all obstacles: he took life with a pinch of sugar even though it kept throwing lemons at him.
An eccentric man, Mike was the pioneer of bizarre inclusions in baseball including the Comsikey firework scorecard, a ball-carrying pig as mascot, water rides in the unused part of a baseball field, a certain Sister Rosalind as a massagist in the outfield, and much more. He also changed the lives of many people, including Daryl Strawberry, who is now an evangelical preacher, and Ila Borders, who broke the stereotypes around women and is now a firefighter.
The Saint of Second Chances is an entertaining documentary. However, the show comes off as too explanatory at times. When Charlie Day takes the role of Mike Veeck, viewers get to see phases of his life. There are times when he dreams or thinks, and viewers understand that, but he verbalizes it anyway, “Not now. I am dreaming”, while inside a dream.
The Movie Culture Synopsis
Be it baseball fans or non-baseball fans, The Saint of Second Chances is guaranteed to broaden your insight of the sport while chipping in a few life lessons along the way. The documentary ends with a tribute to Rebecca Veeck, Mike’s daughter who died due to a rare disease, showcasing how even a hustler that worked 16 hours a day needed to make time for his family as tragedy could befall them any time.
With a 90-minute screentime, The Saint of Second Chances surpasses the efforts of Meg 2: The Trench in providing meaningful entertainment to the viewers. Neville and Malmbert’s direction in the film is amazing as we see the different colors of Mike Vecck and his personality gradually develop from a young boy assisting his father to one who made his own decision. In a sea of documentaries that are gripping and even dark, the coming-of-age story gives viewers a positive outlook on life and second chances.