Thursday, June 07, 2007

The Short and the Short of It

This Friday we celebrate the birthday of Eddie Gaedel who has now been dead 10 years more than he lived, but then he always got the short end of the stick. Gaedel, for those of you not familiar with the Venn (should that be Veeck?) diagram where obscure baseball and obscure midget trivia meet, got to pinch hit in a major league game in 1951. Not surprisingly for a man who could limbo under one of our greyhounds without bending, Gaedel took a four pitch walk, then was removed for a pinch runner as there was a sign in the St. Louis Browns' stadium that said, "You must be this high to run these bases." Therefore, his career was cut, uh, short. (Sorry, might as well have Randy Newman playing in the background here.) Gaedel retired with a 1.000 on base percentage, thereby making him one of Baseball Prospectus's favorite players.

Needless to say, this was pretty much the high point of the little guy's life. Baseball impresario Bill Veeck brought him back a couple other times for gags--indeed, Gaedel led a special vertically-challenged squad of vendors in 1961 who were hired so they wouldn't block peoples' views while they ordered their foot-longs--but Gaedel quit when he realized that if a family of four bought the weiners, he was shorter than their sausages put together. He just didn't cut the mustard as a vendor, the poor little peanut.

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Blogger Queen Whackamole said...

Hardly seems right to have a tall one to celebrate... but whatcha gonna do...

3:47 PM  
Blogger Mike said...

What was his unifrom number? Was it 1/4? 1/8?

4:25 AM  
Blogger Ironicus Maximus said...

Great post, however it is our duty to inform you that you have violated the UN mandated limit on puns per inch.

Punishment for this violation is a 10 day embargo on any tropes being exported by your blog. Further violations will result in you having to memorize Frank and Ernest cartoon strips and recite them at bus stops in areas outside of your neighborhood.

6:26 AM  
Blogger swarfaster said...

I was at that game in St. Louis - taken there by my uncle. The crowd went wild when he came out of the dugout. I thought it was cool to let a kid bat. I was only 10 or 11 at the time.

8:10 AM  
Blogger George said...

Swarfaster--very cool. You have to love the internets....

Mike--it was 1/8, yes.

Ironicus--I stand guilty as accused, but if Paris Hilton can be freed, I hope I can avoid your frankly earnest punishment.

9:09 AM  
Blogger MCConfrontation said...

If you play one pitch in the big leagues you'll get your name forever listed in Total Baseball, which lists the year-by-year and career stats for every guy that ever played. Sometimes when I'm thumbing through it (and it's the size of a LARGE dictionary, wheighing in at about 11 lbs.) I'll look up a guy like Gaedel, or even Moonlight Graham, who was a real player just like they portray in the movie Field of Dreams. Much more interesting, though, are the stats from the big-time older players, like Walter Johnson. I always have to look at Walter Johnson... just fascinating numbers.

11:33 AM  

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