The legacy of Eddie Gaedel
Perhaps the most interesting baseball story ever is the story of Eddie Gaedel.
Gaedel, a three foot seven in actor was hired by then St Louis Browns owner, Bill Veeck, to jump out of a paper-mache cake in between the August 19 1951 double header against the Detroit Lions in a cross promotion to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the American League and advertising for Falstaff Brewery. Veeck, who was well known for making publicity stunts, had secretly signed Gaedel.
At the bottom of the first innings of the second game of the double header, pinch hitter, Gaedel, cheekily wearing number 1/8 on his back strolled to the plate. Umpire Ed Hurley called time. Once Veeck and Browns manager, Zack Taylor showed Hurley a copy of Gaedel’s contract and a team roster, Gaedel was allowed to bat.
Adopting a crouching stance, Gaedel, who was threatened with death if he swung has a strike zone rumoured to be one and a half inches
Now here is one for Equal Opportunity. The next day American League President Will Harridge accused Veeck of making a mockery of the game and voided Gaedel’s contract. Major League Baseball also struck Gaedel from its records books.hes. Tiger’s catcher, Bob Swift took his stance behind on his knees offered a swift piece of advice to Bob Cain who was chuckling on the mound. After two unsuccessful high attempts at a strike, Cain, giving up threw two lobs to walk Gaedel. Gaedel, playing up to the crowd took his base to a standing ovation and was subsequently replaced by a pinch runner.
A year later Gaedel was reinstated and today is one of a few to record an on-base percentage of 1.000 and one of five players to have been walked in their only career at bat. On June 18 1961, 36 year old Gaedel suffered a heart attack after he was followed home and beaten. Bob Cain was the only person affiliated with Major League Baseball to attend Gaedel’s funeral.
Veeck later proclaimed Gaedel was “by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball”