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Happy Eddie Gaedel Day!

Aug 19, 2014, 9:46 AM EST

Image (1) gaedel.jpg for post 5117

If you don’t like the way Yasiel Puig, Carlos Gomez, Bryce Harper and those other young kids disrespect the game you woulda hated Bill Veeck.

Among all of the other things he did that made baseball fun and enjoyable and altogether less serious than so many people seem to want it to be, he once sent a little person up to bat because he was sure he could draw a walk with that small strike zone. And, more to the point, because it’d be a lot of fun and would create publicity for his otherwise uninteresting St. Louis Browns team. That man’s name was Eddie Gaedel and it happened on this date in 1951.

You can read all of the details of the now-famous story of Eddie Gaedel over at the SABR website. In addition to the well-known facts of the incident — such as Veeck’s strict orders to Gaedel to not swing the bat — are lesser-known facts too. Like the fact that this wasn’t Gaedel’s last at-bat:

Gaedel capitalized on his instant fame. He appeared on radio and television shows and made personal appearances. Within a few weeks, he had raked in a substantial $17,000. Over the years he appeared at ballparks during promotional stunts. On September 6, a few weeks after his initial at-bat, Gaedel again strode to the plate for a fee during an amateur game in Sycamore, Illinois. He took two quick called strikes, berating the umpire for both. The pitcher balked and threw another pitch which Gaedel swung at and missed. He left the plate trash-talking the umpire.

Like now, people got mad then too. Like now, there are a substantial number of people in the world who wouldn’t know what fun was if it fell out of the sky, landed on their face and started to wiggle.

  1. 18thstreet - Aug 19, 2014 at 9:58 AM

    Well, count me as humorless.

    Veeck’s description of this at bat (in Veeck as in Wreck) shows absolute disdain for Eddie Gaedel’s humanity. Gaedel was meant to be laughed at. It worked.

    • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:18 AM

      exhibit #1: humorless mammalian

    • stex52 - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:39 AM

      Sounds like Eddie did rather well by it.

    • nothanksimdriving123 - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:41 PM

      The episode is further evidence that MLB games used to be shorter.

  2. mybrunoblog - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:22 AM

    If an owner pulled a stunt like this today he’d be vilified by the faux outrage that occurs whenever someone does something that might not be politically correct. I can see the headlines, tweets blogs now. “Veeck mocks little person” “#Veeckisabigot”
    “Little people to march on White Sox stadium in protest” “Calls start for Veeck to sell team” Etc., etc., etc.
    Those days are over folks. The politically correct media and their minions have won.

    • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:36 AM

      It’s a bit ironic that those screaming about PC language are determined to force people to view the world through their eyes.

      As for the true meaning of PC, it began with parents not wanting their 7th grade children to recite racial slurs while reading Huck Finn in the classroom.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:07 AM

        Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 19, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Who said censorship? Oh, that’s right. You did. For no reason.

        Chow down, Hombre.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 19, 2014 at 12:09 PM

        Censorship is not letting a baby crap all over the steak so everyone can still enjoy the Valverde…or something like that.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 19, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        That’s a quotation by Mark Twain. It was fitting based on your historical birthing of the PC movement in censoring Huck Finn.

      • koufaxmitzvah - Aug 19, 2014 at 1:03 PM

        Fair enough. I still wasn’t talking censorship or advocating it.

        I do like Mark Twain, though, and am happy to be play the befuddled role in this bit regarding him and PC.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 19, 2014 at 1:23 PM

        If you like a quote, just attribute it to Mark Twain or Winston Churchill. Like Jack, no one cares if they actually said it.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:38 PM

        Fine, 18. Then how about this: “When a Library expels a book of mine and leaves an unexpurgated Bible lying around where unprotected youth and age can get hold of it, the deep unconscious irony of it delights me and doesn’t anger me.” So the other one might really be Robert Heinlein. Who woulda thought the google lied?

    • historiophiliac - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:42 AM

      Thank God.

    • asimonetti88 - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:00 AM

      Maybe they would start referring to it as the St. Louis MLB Team.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 19, 2014 at 3:04 PM

        that took me way too long to understand.

        /tips cap

    • girardisbraces - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:51 AM

      Now these stunts are reserved solely for network television, where we sugarcoat our differences and celebrate the oddities for millions to see…. And someone still makes money.

  3. proudlycanadian - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:34 AM

    The closest player we have to Gaadel in today’s game is Altuve; however, Altuve can hit.

    • misterschmo - Aug 19, 2014 at 12:04 PM

      Don’t forget Ozzie Guillen’s assessment of intentionally walking Dustin Pedroia: “I never thought I would walk a jockey”

  4. historiophiliac - Aug 19, 2014 at 10:37 AM

    Geez, Craig. My twitter feed is depressing enough. Thanks for the extra dose of downer today. That write up could use some work (both for appropriateness ["normal'] and for meaning ["his lifelong 'perception' of himself as a little person"]). What a morning this is turning out to be.

    • sophiethegreatdane - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:28 AM

      You’re letting blogs and twitter ruin you’re morning?

      • historiophiliac - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:33 AM

        Well, there was an incident with a snake first thing this morning too, but, yeah, all the downer news doesn’t help. I’m not getting a lot of positivity about the world today.

      • [citation needed] fka COPO - Aug 19, 2014 at 12:43 PM

        twitter ruin you’re morning?

        If the MSM actually reported on what was going on in Ferguson, MO; instead of the lies perpetuated by the police, I could stay off twitter. But they insist on trying to paint this as if both parties are equally responsible for the “carnage” and it’s a bunch of bullsh!t.

      • historiophiliac - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Update: I got flowers and a free lunch, so it picked up a little. I’d still rather have peace in Ferguson though.

      • Reflex - Aug 20, 2014 at 12:47 AM

        Nice, a free lunch!

  5. philliesblow - Aug 19, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Here’s another view of Veeck:

    http://heroesofcapitalism.blogspot.com/2009/03/bill-veeck.html

    • sdelmonte - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:32 PM

      And yet he also managed to lose enough money that he needed to sell both the Indians and the Browns. A sign more of the low margins of the game in that age (and of a bad divorce) than his failures as a capitalist. But still a reminder that success and failure often wear the same cap.

      • 18thstreet - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:36 PM

        And let’s not forget all the World Series he won while leading the St. Louis Browns, the Chicago White Sox, and the Cleveland Indians.

        On the other hand — and far more importantly — he deserves credit for integrating the American League.

      • Jack Glasscock's Cup - Aug 19, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        Lawrence (as Bill Veeck called him) Doby, always the bridesmaid, never the bride. Not only was he the second African American to play in MLB, a mere 11 weeks after Jackie Robinson, he was also the second A-A manager, a few years after Frank Robinson. Had to put up with all of the same guff without any of the accolades.

      • asimonetti88 - Aug 19, 2014 at 4:47 PM

        Larry Doby was a hell of a player as well. .283/.386/.490 career hitter with 253 home runs, 970 RBI, 49.5 BR WAR and a second place finish in the MVP voting on the 111 win 1954 Indians.

  6. SocraticGadfly - Aug 19, 2014 at 1:27 PM

    Bat flip?

  7. philipharmonic - Aug 19, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    his grand-newphew is in the minors (Height: 6′ 3″, Weight: 220 lb.)

    http://wapc.mlb.com/cutfour/2013/08/19/57535924/interview-eddie-gaedels-grand-nephew-kyle-gaedele

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