Eddie Gaedel

From BR Bullpen


Edward Carl Gaedel

  • Bats Right, Throws Left
  • Height 3' 7", Weight 65 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Pitch him low." - Bob Swift, Tigers catcher, telling his pitcher, Bob Cain, how to pitch to Gaedel

Eddie Gaedel was the shortest and lightest man to ever play a major league inning. In 1951, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck, as desperate for ticket sales as his spirit was entrepreneurial, decided to pinch hit one day one Eddie Gaedel, circus midget. After producing a valid contract for an incredulous home plate umpire, Gaedel - replacing Frank Saucier in the lineup and sporting uniform number 1/8 - dug in and managed to draw a four-pitch walk, thanks to a diminutive strike zone. Gaedel scampered off to first base, where he was replaced by pinch runner Jim Delsing, before waddling up the dugout tunnel and back into the oblivion from whence he came. The next day, AL President Will Harridge banned Gaedel from appearing in future games. Organized baseball was done with Eddie Gaedel but Eddie Gaedel wasn't done with organized baseball. A White Sox publicity photo the following year depicts him holding a miniature bat and wearing a baseball uniform similar to his Browns uniform but with a white cap and no team name.

Gaedel died after being beaten in a bar fight in 1961.

Veeck apparently got the inspiration for his stunt from a short story by James Thurber, You Could Look It Up, which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1941. Given the literary origins of his fame, it is not surprising that Gaedel himself has featured in works of fiction. A player modeled on him appears in Philip Roth's The Great American Novel, while Gaedel as a person is a character in Georges Desmeules' Le Projet Syracuse.

His great-nephew Kyle Gaedele was drafted in 2008 by the Tampa Bay Rays.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Eric Robinson: "The Peculiar Professional Baseball Career of Eddie Gaedel", in Stuart Shea, ed.: North Side, South Side, All Around Town, The National Pastime, SABR, 2015. ISBN 978-1-93359987-8

Related Sites[edit]