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Wed, March 20

BOYS OF SUMMERS PAST: Prescott man shares tales of baseball's heyday

PRESCOTT - It's just as much about the history of baseball during the "Deadball Era" as it is about the ballplayer, Fred "Bucky" Veil.

That's how Prescott writer Fred Veil - Bucky's grandson - described his new book, "Bucky: A Story of Baseball in the Deadball Era" - an historical fiction novel based on Bucky's baseball exploits, including his time as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he pitched in the first World Series of the modern baseball era.

After nearly a decade of research, Veil spent another three years writing before he felt ready for publication. He's collected a 2 foot stack of old newspapers as part of his in-depth investigative efforts. His book was released in October 2012.

"I researched every game my grandfather played," Veil said.

The Deadball Era occurred from 1901 to 1919 and preceded the home run as a major "offensive weapon," Veil said.

"It was a game very different than today's game, built on speed and tragedy and bunting - what you might call 'small ball.' Home runs were very rare," he said. "Baseball history is divided into eras. The modern era began around 1901. The National League was the only league in existence at that time. It was condensed into eight teams and then the American League came along a couple years later."

Over the course of his career, Veil's grandfather played with a number of baseball legends, including Honus Wagner, Christy Mathewson and Cy Young. Bucky Veil died in 1931 at the age of 49 from a heart attack.

Veil signed copies of his book and offered a presentation at the Peregrine Book Company on Sunday, where he talked about the origins and evolution of baseball and his grandfather's role.

Veil, a semi-retired attorney, is a member of the Prescott Corral of the Westerners International organization. Besides his book signing and presentation Sunday, Veil will also be available at the Prescott Public Library at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

While the book is a work of fiction, he said he tried to keep it as authentic as possible.

"The facts are real. The events are real. The characters are real. What makes it fiction is I've added dialogue to try to give context to the events, expand them and make the characters real. It makes it an easier read," Veil said. "I didn't start off with the idea to write a book. I started with the idea I wanted to learn about my grandfather's baseball history. Through the family lore, this has been an important part of our heritage."

His wife Sally Veil said, while she enjoys baseball, she isn't as big a fan as her husband.

"He wanted me to proofread it as he was writing. I told him I couldn't do that. I had to read it in its entirety. It's very well written," she said.

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