William “Night Train” Veeck—known as “Train” to his friends—is the grandson of Baseball Hall of Famer Bill Veeck. Bill was a promoter of Major League Baseball and also had ownership interests in the Chicago White Sox, St. Louis Browns, and Cleveland Indians. I spoke with Train about his grandfather and his own work in baseball, working for the White Sox.
What was it like growing up in a baseball family? Besides your grandfather, your father Mike has ownership interests in several minor league teams?
Dinner table conversations were lots of fun. I learned a lot about the marketing strategies and front office operations. I started working at the ballpark when I was five years old. I would fill up sodas, and roll up hot dogs into aluminum foil. I even had a tip jar for people whom appreciated my hard work.
Why are you following the Veeck legacy and working in baseball?
I love baseball. It’s everything I have known and worked for. A very humbling experience for me is walking through the gates before a home game and knowing that the legacy in my family is still going strong. I am part of an organization that has done a lot for me and my family.
Your grandfather famously had a little person, Eddie Gaedel, pinch hit in a baseball game.
Yes, everybody knows the story. His jersey resides in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Many years ago, my sister held up the jersey and the experience was very enchanting.
What’s your primary job with the White Sox?
Group sales of 20 or more people. My favorite area of the ballpark is the patio in right field, which is run by the Bertucci Boys. For a fixed price, you have unlimited beer and the best food in Major League Baseball. The price also includes a game ticket. This is something to experience if you haven’t already done so.
Whether the Sox win or lose, how do you make sure the fans leave happy?
I can’t control the wins or losses, so we focus on customer service and customer engagement. Is the beer cold? Hot dog hot? Being at the ballpark allows you to get away from work life for a few hours, so we need to make sure you are being taken care of.
The main goal for any ball club is to fill the seats. How is social media helping you do this?
We opened a social media lounge in June. Fans can stop in and charge their phones. They can congregate to interact both online and offline to work collaboratively. Via social media, we can respond to customer service inquiries. For example, if we have game issues or any information we need to disseminate to fans, we can do so in real-time. We also upgrade fans’ seats and sometimes bring free food to people who are engaging with us on Twitter.
What’s the biggest difference between working with the White Sox and working with a minor league team like the Charleston River Dogs?
Mobility of ideas. Ideas get out quicker in the minors. There’s a different mindset. We can get a little more “wild” in the minors. In MLB, people pay lots of money for a season ticket, so you don’t want to belittle the experience.
When the game ends, what is your wish for every fan exiting the building?
Make sure everybody had fun