Little Person Baseball Player Eddie Gaedel Part 3
About the little person baseball player Eddie Gaedel who played for the St. Louis Browns as a publicity stunt, history and biography.
THE THREE-FOOT-HIGH HITTER
Cain, however, ruined all Gaedel's grandiose plans and spared him possible assassination. Cain simply had no control, none at all. He lobbed in 4 pitches, but the midget got nothing to swing at. The 1st 2 were about head high, but Cain couldn't come down. The only man in the history of big league baseball ever to walk a midget! Cain was so hysterical he could just about reach his hysterical battery mate. Gaedel never got a chance to gain immortality with a mighty Ruthian blast, for ball 3 and ball 4 were so high they wouldn't have been strikes on Wilt Chamberlain.
With a barely perceptible look of scorn on his face, the midget took his pass and trotted down to 1st base. There he held one foot on the bag while waiting for pinch-runner Jim Delsing, the only man ever to pinch-run for a midget. Then he slapped Delsing on the rump, shook hands with the 1st-base coach, bowed to the crowd, and cut across the infield to the Browns' dugout behind 3rd. He took a long time to get there, waving and bowing, thoroughly enjoying his moment upon the stage.
According to Veeck's plans, the Browns were to beat the Tigers 1-0 in the 2nd game of the doubleheader, his midget representing the winning run, but the lowly Browns couldn't have won with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs; despite the best laid plans of midgets and maestros, St. Louis was shortchanged 6-2. The following day, in the words of one reporter, the American League president Will Harridge "turned thumbs down on Tom Thumb." Harridge had tried to outlaw the midget while plate umpire Hurley was examining his papers, but Veeck had refused to answer the phone and had shut off the office teletype. Soon the league leader passed a new rule requiring all player contracts to be approved by the president. Veeck, for his part, termed this decision "unfair to the little man."
As for Eddie Gaedel, the midget never played in another ball game. After his sententious farewell speech ("Now that someone has finally taken a step to help us short guys, Harridge is ruining my baseball career."), he hung up his spikes. Veeck got him many bookings on the basis of his sole sterling performance, including one baseball date at Comisky Park, where he landed at 2nd base with 3 other midgets disguised as Martians, "captured" Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio, and informed the crowd over the public address sytem that his little people were going to help Veeck's White Sox. About a year after this, on June 18, 1961, Eddie Gaedel died, at age 36, a month before another great competitor, Ty Cobb. Veeck writes in his autobiography that The New York Times gave Eddie a front page obituary, an honor usually reserved for statesmen and Nobel Prize winners, but in reality it was just one of the 7,500 deaths the Times reported that year, and was on page 12. It was unusual only in that Gaedel rated 3 stars in the Times Index, indicating an unexplained violent death. His body had been found in the bedroom of his apartment on Chicago's South Side, and an inquest was ordered when police noted bruises on his face and body. The Times did acknowledge, however, that Eddie Gaedel was the only midget ever to play in the major leagues, and no midget, it is certain, will again step up to bat in a big league baseball game. In fact, Eddie was probably the 1st and last Lilliputian to reign in the entire Brobdingnagian world of professional sports.
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