Watch Charlie Day recreate the most eventful moments of Veeck's life in the film's trailer, exclusively shared by PEOPLE
Netflix's The Saint of Second Chances is more than just a baseball movie, directors Morgan Neville and Jeff Malmberg say.
The documentary, premiering on Netflix on Sept. 19., tells the story of Mike Veeck's eccentric life in the front office of major and minor league baseball teams as the son of former Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck.
"It's about the things that we can all relate to — what it is to be a dad, what it is to be a son, family and love and second chances and redemption, and all these things that I think all of us deal with, but they happen to deal with it in the world of baseball," Malmberg tells PEOPLE.
"Baseball is the backdrop of the film," says Veeck, 72, who is played by It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Charlie Day in the film's reenactments. "He's too handsome to play me, but it works out in my favor," Veeck tells PEOPLE.
Day, 47, was "the first person we though of, and he's the first person we asked, and he said he was in, and it was just kind of like that," Neville says. "We got really lucky, and Charlie was totally into it, which was amazing."
One of the most notable historic events in the film is the inception and aftermath of Veeck's idea to host the infamous Disco Demolition Night in 1979, a promotional event for the Chicago White Sox that ended in chaos as 50,000 fans rushed the field between a scheduled double-header, forcing the team to forfeit the game against the Detroit Tigers.
After his father parted ways with the Chicago baseball team, Veeck became a father to son Night Train and daughter Rebecca.
In 2019, Rebecca died from Batten's disease. In the film, Veeck opens up about losing his daughter and the precious lessons she taught him.
Malmberg tells PEOPLE, "One of the first things Mike told us was he wanted to take what happened to his daughter and turn it into something beautiful and meaningful. I think in documentaries, you're always looking for a place to go, and that seemed like an impossible and wonderful place to go."
Watching the movie back, Veeck tells PEOPLE it was emotional for him to "realize how close to the bone it hits," but ultimately, "having to relive it brought more closure than I ever could have imagined," he says.
"There's so many feelings about how I felt about my daughter, what I learned from my father, and there're just little points in your life that you think, 'Boy, if I could revisit that, how would I play it? Or more importantly, how would I feel about it?'"
In 1993, Veeck and a group of investors – including actor Bill Murray – founded the St. Paul Saints, a minor league baseball team in Minnesota. This past March, Veeck and the group announced the sale of the team, according to CBS.
The former minor league owner says, "The most important thing to me was that the movie be uplifting, and there are moments of great sadness, and there are moments of great joy, but it's a movie for everyone. I think that the greatest accolade that art can get is when life actually duplicates it."
Neville, whose 2014 film 20 Feet from Stardom won best documentary at the Academy Awards, tells PEOPLE, "It is a baseball film, and at the same time, we've shown it to people who know nothing about baseball and the film works, too. It's a film that I think is enriched by your love of baseball, but is in no way a prerequisite to enjoying the film."
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The Oscar winner says he enjoyed telling a story of "how to come back from failure," in working on Saint of Second Chances. "One thing I love about this story is dealing with failure, too, because it's something that we don't talk about enough. We just want to celebrate victory. And I think learning how to come back from failure is way more important than learning how to celebrate victory."
Saint of Second Chances is available globally on Netflix on September 19.
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