Little Person Baseball Player Eddie Gaedel Part 1
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
You could count on the knuckles of one thumb the number of midgets who have appeared in major league ball games. His surname was Gaedel, his given name Edward, he was 26 years old, and he was born on June 25, 1925, in Chicago, Ill., of 2 midgets. All that, however, is relatively unimportant. In short, the vital statistic is that Eddie Gaedel was 43" small, though the tallest short story in baseball history.
When St. Louis Brown's owner Bill Veeck brought Edward Gaedel up to the majors on August 19, 1951, there were those who thought he was just another Veeck stunt. They were right. The baseball career of William L. (for Lunacy as one writer put it) Veeck, Jr., was built on gimmicks that increased attendance, and the midget, though he might have looked like an hors d'oeuvre, was the main course of that kinky career.
It was beautiful. A midget. A brownie for the Browns. An anatomic bomb. After locating Gaedel in Chicago, Veeck and his confederates trained the midget, who knew nothing about baseball except that you hit the ball with the bat and ran like you were escaping the Valley of the Jolly Green Giant. Young Gaedel had been a stunt man and vaudeville entertainer. His past, however, wasn't important when one considered that it would be as easy for a pitcher to throw through the eye of a needle as enter the kingdom of his 1 1/2' strike zone.
All Veeck had to do, he though, was teach his midget how to crouch and point him in the direction of 1st base. The imp's imp was signed to a standard contract making him one of baseball's better paid players at $100 a day--although he was hired for only one day and waived the 30-day notice clause. Veeck also took out a $1 million insurance policy protecting himself against "sudden death or sudden growth," which when canceled (short rate?) would come to just $1.50 for one day. The insurance policy may have indicated Veeck's apprehension at the prospect of his miniature man driving for the fences, because Gaedel grew overconfident, swinging from the heels as his practice sessions progressed.
On the day of the big game not even the scorecard reading "1/8 Gaedel," which has since become a collector's item, aroused the slightest suspicion. Neither did the Browns arouse any suspicion, running true to form and losing the 1st game of the doubleheader. There was much Veeckian celebration between games, including a band featuring Satchel Paige on the drums at home plate, but no one suspected anything, not even when a nervous Eddie, ready to resign, was stuffed inside a 7' birthday cake and rolled out onto the infield grass. "Ladies and gentlemen, as a special birthday present to manager Zack Taylor," the PA announcer explained, "the management is presenting him with a brand-new Brownie!" Up popped Veeck's midget, from a cake that cost more than he did, but still no one caught on.
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