Krell: The saga of Eddie Gaedel

From SABR member David Krell at The Sports Post on August 19, 2015:

On August 19, 1951, Eddie Gaedel strode to home plate in a St. Louis Browns uniform adorned with the number 1/8 rather than a whole number, signifying his physical stature similar to that of the folks who set Dorothy on the Yellow Brick Road in The Wizard of Oz.

Gaedel’s cup of coffee in the major leagues consisted of a single at bat, when he faced Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers in the first inning of the first game of a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park. In 2002, Fred Buchholz, the Browns batboy, recalled the game for St. Louis Post-Dispatch sportswriter Tom Wheatley. “The fans were laughing, but no one said nothing in our dugout,” said Buchholz. “They were just shocked. Nothing like that had ever happened before. Usually the guys would yell for someone to get a hit. Here, nothing.”

A publicity stunt conceived by Browns owner Bill Veeck, Gaedel had a signed contract, giving him the legitimacy required to play in a Major League Baseball game. Veeck embraced wackiness, seeing it as an added value for the fans. In his second tenure as owner of the White Sox from 1976 to 1981, Veeck installed a shower in the center field bleachers so fans could cool off on hot Chicago days, instructed Harry Caray to sing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” during the seventh inning stretch, and commanded the White Sox players to wear shorts in a gimmick that proved to last about as long as the notion of somebody defeating Richard J. Daley in a Chicago mayoral election between the mid-1950s and the mid-1970s.

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Originally published: August 20, 2015. Last Updated: August 20, 2015.