NEW YORK -- Right away, you can spot Mike Veeck at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Like his Hall of Fame father, he's a colorful character. His floral shirt matches his floral shoes. He bursts with energy, chatting up everybody who's within earshot. His smile is radiant. He seems to really live by the Veeck motto (and the title of his book): Fun is Good.
Just look at him posing for the photographers.
But instead of doing some wacky promotion at a ballpark, Veeck was in New York to promote himself and his new Netflix documentary, "The Saint of Second Chances," which will come out on a date to be announced in September 2023. It's a tale of how Veeck, after organizing the disastrous Disco Demolition Night and getting run out of baseball, came back to successfully run the Independent and, later, Minor League St. Paul Saints. The Saints gave Veeck a second chance, but also gave others chances when nobody else would.
Ila Borders pitched for the team, becoming the first woman to make an appearance in (and win) a professional baseball game.
Dave Stevens, a man born without legs, but who always dreamed of taking one pro at-bat, got into a game for the Saints.
After being suspended for substance abuse in 1996 and finding out no teams wanted him, Darryl Strawberry got a second chance with St. Paul. Strawberry fell back in love with the game, played well for the Saints and was signed by the Yankees during their run to the 1996 World Series -- a snippet told beautifully in the documentary.
The film is narrated by actor Jeff Daniels, and Charlie Day, of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" fame, acts in some recreated scenes during the years Veeck was out of the game and mostly just burying his demons in poolside margaritas. Veeck had no idea why Day chose to play the part.
"He should've picked somebody better to play than me," Veeck joked. "He's a lot more handsome. He made a huge mistake."
While much of the upbeat, rock-music-laden documentary is about redemption and underdogs, it's also about family. Directors Morgan Neville (20 Feet from Stardom) and Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol) think that's the big message.
"To me, the best kind of baseball move is this kind: Where it's really about family, about heart, about emotion," Malmberg told me. "When I think of baseball, I think of the times going to the park with my dad."
The first half of the film details the relationship between Mike and his dad, Bill, while the second half gets into the dynamic between Mike and his two kids, Rebecca and Night Train (yes, that's his real name). Both were heavily involved in his ballpark hijinks as children and Rebecca -- whom the family tragically lost to a rare genetic condition when she was 27 years old -- was the one Mike mentions in the doc as being most like his dad. She was obviously the light of his life and is the true star of the film.
"Second Chances" is a comeback story, a tale of loss and love and family that anybody can relate to. It's also about having fun and not taking life too seriously. It's a motto Mike (and his dad) lived by. It's a refreshing, welcoming mindset we need a little more of in the world today.