Little Person Baseball Player Eddie Gaedel Part 2
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
In the last half of the 1st inning, though, everyone understood. "For the Browns," came the grating announcement over the loudspeaker, "number-one-eighth, Eddie Gaedel, batting for Saucier." Instant happiness came to everyone connected with the Browns except center-fielder Frank Saucier, the only man in baseball history ever taken out for a midget pinch hitter. Gaedel, lustily waving 3 bats, approached the plate. "This can't be," umpire Ed Hurley said, pulling off his mask and getting down on his knees to examine Gaedel closely. But it was. Zack Taylor came trotting out with the midget's contract, a time-stamped telegram to American League headquarters, and a copy of the Browns active list proving that there was room on the roster for the midget. Hurley had to motion number 1/8 into the batter's box.
The Tiger's Bobby Cain had thought Gaedel was just another Veeck gag. When he realized he would have to pitch to the mini-hitter his mouth opened wide and he just gawked for a moment before walking halfway to the plate to confer with Detroit catcher Bob Swift, who was laughing so hard he nearly fell over. "Let's go," Gaedel squeaked. "Throw it in there, fat, and I'll moider it." He was slightly more than twice as tall as his 17" bat, but the right-handed runt considered himself a threat. Veeck got a little nervous. Would his midget swing for the fences? He remembered that Gaedel had once asked him how tall Wee Willie Keeler was.
When Bob Swift regained his composure, and Cain accepted his fate, they discussed how they would pitch to the pixie. There was no precedent in baseball history, but they had to decide to pitch him low. After a delay of some 15 minutes in all, Gaedel inched up to the plate. Swift got down on both knees behind the midget. Hurley rubbed his eyes. Cain was ready to pitch to the shrunken strike zone.
But Gaedel didn't go into his crouch! The midget's sad eyes changed, and supreme confidence usurped his being. Assuming a classic stance like a dinghy of the Yankee Clipper, feet spread wide, bat high, he stared at the confines of Sportsmen's Park. What fantasies he must have had. The resounding crack of the bat, a long, long drive, the concussive deafening roar of the crowd as the ball soared over the center-field roof and he himself was trotting around the bases tipping his cap. . . . And that would be only the beginning. . . . What did Wee Willie Keeler, what did Rizzuto have that the human proton, the protean pygmy didn't have. . . . As for Veeck, he was thinking, "I should have brought a gun up here. I'll kill him, I'll kill him if he doesn't get on base!"
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