Aug 19, 2014, 9:46 AM EDT
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.
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