Eddie Gaedel 109 cm Shortest to play in Major League Baseball. This however was a publicity stunt and Gaedel only stood once at the plate.Edward Carl "Eddie" Gaedel (June 8, 1925 - June 18, 1961), born in Chicago, Illinois, was an American midget who became famous for participating in a Major League Baseball game. Gaedel (some sources say the family name may actually have been Gaedele ) gained immortality in the second game of a St. Louis Browns doubleheader on Sunday, August 19, 1951. short athlete.
Weighing 65 pounds (29.5 kg), and standing 3 feet 7 inches (1.09 m) tall, he became the shortest player in the history of the major leagues. He made a single plate appearance and was walked with four consecutive balls before being replaced by a pinch-runner at first base. His jersey, bearing the uniform number "⅛", is displayed in the Baseball Hall of Fame.the Third short athlete in the world. short athlete.
short athlete: Browns owner Bill Veeck was a showman who enjoyed staging publicity stunts. He found Eddie Gaedel through a booking agency. Due to his size, Gaedel had worked as a riveter during World War II. Gaedel was able to crawl inside the wings of airplanes. After the war, Gaedel was the promotional mascot for Mercury Records. short athlete.
short athlete: Gaedel was secretly signed by the St. Louis Browns and put in uniform (complete with elf slippers and the number "⅛" on the back). Gaedel came out of a papier-mache cake between games of a doubleheader to celebrate the American League's 50th anniversary, and as a Falstaff Brewery promotion. Falstaff, and the fans, had been promised a "festival of surprises" by Veeck. Before the second game got underway, the press agreed that the "midget-in-a-cake" appearance had not been up to Veeck's usual promotional standard. Falstaff personnel, who had been promised national publicity for their participation, were particularly dissatisfied. Keeping the surprise he had in store for the second game to himself, Veeck just meekly apologized. short athlete.
short athlete: Although Veeck denied the stunt was directly inspired by it, the appearance of Gaedel was unmistakably similar to the plot of "You Could Look It Up," a 1941 short story by James Thurber.short athlete.
At the plate
short athlete: Gaedel entered the game between the Browns and Detroit Tigers as a pinch-hitter for leadoff batter Frank Saucier. Immediately, umpire Ed Hurley called for Browns manager Zack Taylor. Veeck and Taylor had had the foresight to have a copy of Gaedel's contract on hand , as well as a copy of the Browns' active roster, which had room for Gaedel's addition.short athlete.
short athlete: The contract had been filed late in the day on Friday, August 17. Veeck knew the league office would summarily approve the contract upon receipt, and that it would not be scrutinized until Monday, August 20. Upon reading the contract, Hurley motioned for Gaedel to take his place in the batter's box. (As a result of Gaedel's appearance, all contracts must now be approved by the Commissioner of Baseball before a player can appear in a game.) The change to that day's St. Louis Browns scorecard, listing Gaedel and his uniform number, had gone unnoticed by everyone except Harry Mitauer, a writer for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat. The Browns' publicity man shunted Mitauer's inquiry aside. short athlete.
short athlete: Gaedel was under strict orders not to attempt to move the bat off his shoulder. When Gaedel had hinted to Veeck that he might be tempted to swing at a pitch, the owner promised to bring a rifle to the game and shoot him if he tried. (In the Thurber story, the midget cannot resist swinging, grounds out, and the team loses the game.) short athlete.
short athlete: With Bob Cain on the mound - laughing at the absurdity that he actually had to pitch to Gaedel - and catcher Bob Swift catching on his knees, Gaedel crouched with bat in hand. Veeck later wrote in his autobiography that he'd measured Gaedel's strike zone in this position before the appearance, and that it was just one and a half inches. The Tigers catcher offered his pitcher a piece of strategy: "Keep it low." Cain delivered four consecutive balls, all high (the first two pitches were legitimate attempts at strikes; the last two were half-speed tosses). Gaedel took his base (stopping twice during his trot to bow to the crowd) and was replaced by pinch-runner Jim Delsing. The 18,369 fans gave Gaedel a standing ovation.short athlete.
short athlete: Veeck had hoped that Delsing would go on to score in a one-run Browns victory, but he ended up stranded at third base and the Tigers went on to win the game 6–2. American League president Will Harridge, saying Veeck was making a mockery of the game, voided Gaedel's contract the next day. In response, Veeck threatened to request an official ruling on whether Yankees shortstop and reigning MVP Phil Rizzuto was a short ballplayer or a tall midget. short athlete.
short athlete: Initially, major league baseball struck Gaedel from its record book, as if he had not been in the game. He was relisted a year later. Eddie Gaedel finished his major league career with an on-base percentage of 1.000. His total earnings as a pro athlete were $100, the scale price for an AGVA appearance. However, he was able to parlay his baseball fame into more than $17,000 by appearing on several television shows.short athlete.
short athlete: Gaedel's major league career lasted just the one plate appearance, but Veeck continued to employ Gaedel in non-playing promotions over the years: in 1959, Gaedel and three other dwarfs dressed as spacemen were seen presenting "ray guns" to White Sox players Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio at Comiskey Park. (Gaedel reportedly said, "I don't want to be taken to your leader. I've already met him.") In 1961, Veeck hired several dwarfs and midgets, including Gaedel, as vendors, so as not to "block the fans' view" of the game. short athlete.
short athlete: Combative in his private life, he later became a heavy drinker and died of a heart attack after being mugged in Chicago in 1961. The only baseball figure to attend the funeral was Bob Cain, the pitcher who had walked him. Said Cain: "I never even met him, but I felt obligated to go."short athlete.
short athlete: Gaedel is one of only five major-league players who drew a walk in their only plate appearance and never played the field. The first three all played in the 1910s: Dutch Schirick (September 17, 1914 with the Browns), Bill Batsch (September 9, 1916 with Pittsburgh) and Joe Cobb (April 25, 1918 with Detroit; Cobb was born Joseph Serafin and was unrelated to Tigers' star Ty Cobb.) On June 24, 2007, Kevin Melillo of the Oakland Athletics, became the first player in over half a century to do so, against the New York Mets. Melillo is still active in the minor leagues (in the Milwaukee Brewers organization), and thus has a chance to finally get a major league at-bat. short athlete
short athlete: Gaedel's one-day career has been the subject of programs on ESPN and the Baseball Network. He was mentioned by name in the lyrics of Terry Cashman's homage to 1950's baseball, "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey, and the Duke)". His at-bat was the #1 choice on a 1999 list of "Unusual and Unforgettable Moments" in baseball history published by the Sporting News. short athlete
short athlete: Due to its scarcity, Gaedel's autograph now sells for more than Babe Ruth's. In his autobiography Veeck as in Wreck, Bill Veeck commemorated Gaedel as "the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball."
short athlete: Gaedel's great-nephew Kyle Gaedele is also a ballplayer, drafted in the 32nd round by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 out of high school. The 6-foot-4 Gaedele chose instead to attend Valparaiso University and will play for the Madison Mallards of the summer collegiate Northwoods League in 2010 short athlete.
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