Mike Veeck’s Powerful Story of Courage and Hope


Mike Veeck speaks at the October 1 Continuum Center event

Baseball executive Mike Veeck was kind enough to join us at the Continuum Center on October 1 for an evening with six storytellers from my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.

When I read the story of Mike and his daughter in Sports Illustrated a few years back (click here to read The Sorcerer’s Apprentice), it brought me to tears. I knew I had to include his story in my book. When I contacted Mike, he was gracious enough to tell me the story from scratch so I could write it from a fresh new angle. Here is the start of his story in my book:

In October 1998, I accepted a job as senior vice president of marketing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and moved my family to Florida. When my daughter, Rebecca, who was almost seven, had a wellness check before starting school, she couldn’t read the big “E” on the eye chart. Of course, being a Veeck, we thought she was hamming it up, but she started crying and said, “I really can’t read the eye chart.” We took her to a specialist right away and it was confirmed that she had retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic degenerative eye disease. It was incurable. She was going to go blind. It was just a question of how fast.

In the course of a few moments, your world changes forever. Suddenly, there’s something wrong with your perfect child. And it shakes you. She received a lifetime sentence, and you’re thinking, We’ll win on appeal. I could hardly pronounce retinitis pigmentosa, but I had this feeling that by sheer will, by hoping and by praying and by helping in the small ways that each of us are able to do, we could overcome it. Well, that’s poppycock. It quickly became apparent that this was a seven-day-a-week, twenty-four-hours-a-day thing. And that’s what wears you out—the battering, because it’s just continual.

In his talk at the Continuum Center, Mike said that the day after that diagnosis he went into the office and was told, “We’ve got a crisis. We haven’t sold 10,000 season tickets.” He said, “Yesterday that was a crisis. Today that’s not a crisis.” As he stated in his story in my book:

I’ve come to realize that there is nothing so unifying as watching a child struggle. It prioritizes your life. You become a different person. I’m not proud of the changes I had to go through, because I really did believe that being senior vice president of marketing for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays was very important. But then you realize that, thirteen seconds after you leave that job, nobody cares. And while I suffer fools easily because I am one, I no longer am able to see the loss of twenty season tickets as a failure of tragic proportions. It’s so embarrassing to have been that egocentric.

It was an honor to meet Mike in person and listen to him share his story with the Continuum Center audience.

Please be sure to read that original Sports Illustrated article. It’s wonderful!

Click here to view all my baseball-related posts.

Click here to view all my posts related to my book, Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything.


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Like to learn more about Through God’s Eyes? Here is a free 44-page PDF sampler from the book that includes:

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SiSe_fullcover_final.inddPhil is also the author of Sixty Seconds: One Moment Changes Everything, a collection of 45 inspiring, life-changing stories from prominent authors and thought leaders he interviewed. The roster of storytellers includes Wayne Dyer, Deepak Chopra, Neale Donald Walsch, Caroline Myss, Larry Dossey, Rachel Naomi Remen, Bernie Siegel, Dean Ornish, and Christiane Northrup. Sixty Seconds has been translated into four languages: Italian, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Reading this book is like spending a few minutes face to face with each of the contributors and listening to their personal stories.

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Here is a three-minute video introduction to Sixty Seconds.

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2 Responses to “Mike Veeck’s Powerful Story of Courage and Hope”

  1. becky Says:

    Thank you for the beautiful post – inspiring article and the love of a father. I also have Retinitis pigmentosa.

  2. Phil Bolsta Says:

    I am sorry to hear that you also have retinitis pigmentosa, Becky. That must be extraordinarily hard to deal with. My heart goes out to you.

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