There is crying in baseball, at least in Mike Veeck's version.
Veeck, the subject of a goofy, yet touching new documentary, was standing near a dugout at CHS Field last month when I asked if he had any regrets about selling his beloved St. Paul Saints this past March.
"Oh, man. Of course, I have regrets," he said before choking up, taking a pause to compose himself. "But it's better this way. The problem with our country is that people don't step aside and let the youngsters in. My mother used to always say, 'The problem is that people aren't graceful about when their time is up.'"
Not that Veeck is completely off the clock.
"The Saint of Second Chances," premiering Tuesday on Netflix, is packed with stories that Minnesotans have dined on for years. The film gives the rest of the world a chance to meet baseball's most lovable rascal, the kind of guy who will buy a round of beers, then slip a whoopee cushion under your seat.
The first chapter of the film, narrated by Jeff Daniels, has Veeck sharing hilarious, humbling anecdotes from his time as director of promotions for the Chicago White Sox when his late dad, Bill Veeck, owned the team.
Veeck was too long in the tooth to play himself in the re-enactments. That task went to Charlie Day of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia." But he was perfect for another part.
The day before shooting commenced in Los Angeles, director Morgan Neville ("Won't You Be My Neighbor?") cajoled him into playing his own dad. The turnaround was so quick that Veeck didn't have time to reach out to longtime business partner Bill Murray for advice. Not that it would have helped.
"He would have just said, 'Don't act like you,'" Veeck said. "And I would have had no idea what to do with that."
To prepare for the role, Veeck had to shave his beard. He spent more than two hours a day in the makeup chair. He also had to deal with the aftershock.
"When I came back home, I wasn't right for two weeks," he said. "My father was terrific. I don't think I gave him the credit he was entitled to."
In the movie, Veeck talks about feeling like he let Dad down by organizing the 1979 Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park, a moment in baseball history as infamous as the Black Sox Scandal. He subsequently left the team and majored in feeling sorry for himself.
His road to redemption brought him to St. Paul, where his creativity and willingness to take risks elevated minor-league baseball.
Minnesota viewers will recognize some familiar faces during this part of the film. Local writer Neal Karlen, KFAN personality Dan Barreiro and Sister Rosalind Gefre, the Saints' official massage therapist, all pop up. In a nod to Minnesota music, Neville chose the Replacements' "Can't Hardly Wait" to play during the closing credits.
But the movie's star is daughter Rebecca Veeck, who practically grew up at Midway Stadium, the Saints' first home. She died four years ago from a rare genetic condition at the age of 27. Her buoyant spirit carries the film home.
"Can I make the passage into wherever Rebecca is now with the same dignity that she did?" Veeck said as players from a youth camp started to make their way off CHS Field.
That's the question he kept asking himself when he saw "Saint" for the first time.
And during the final 20 minutes of the film, he cried.