Commissioned by the Eddie Gaedel Society, “Take A Walk Eddie” is the inspired work af Vancouver, BC artist Jennifer Ettinger – and it was presented August 19th the roaring approval of the crowd at O’Doherty’s..
“The Wonderful Wizard of Ed,” Tom Keefe, aka, the Founder and President of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1, last night sent me this great sample of the meeting I had to miss out there due to shingles on the August 19th anniversary of Eddie Gaedel’s complete, one-game career as a big league player for the 1951 St. Louis Browns, aka, now better remembered since 1954 as the Baltimore Orioles.
The performance by the Spokane Chapter Choral Group marked the official induction of “The Ballad” as the official anthem of The Eddie Gaedel Society. The Pecan Park Eagle also “Now Flies High for the Little Guy” in an official context that always has been with us unofficially for Eddie Gaedel and, for that matter, all of the “little guy/underdog good guy issues that carom our way.
Eddie Gaedel is different and above all others in that regard. He didn’t carom into my life. He hit me head-on like a Mack truck when I was a 13-year old sandlot baseball player in the Houston east end and during my baseball card-connected time as a St. Louis Browns fan – and also on a special day my family was getting ready to celebrate my little sister’s 2nd birthday anniversary.
The news came that day over the radio about Eddie coming to bat in St. Louis as a “little guy – a really little guy, as the disfavored “m” word used to convey with no intentionally pejorative description of the fact that Eddie Gaedel belonged to a sub-group of people in this world who are a whole lot shorter than the rest of us.
Had Eddie Gaedel been breaking in at shortstop for the Munchkin City Kids of the Southern Oz League, no one would have given it a second thought. But this is America – and Eddie Gaedel had gone to bat officially in a big league game as a pinch-hitter for the St. Louis Browns – and he had drawn a four-pitch walk before retiring from his one-game career for a pinch runner – who just happened to be outfielder Jim Delsing, a guy who would years later, in 1959, play 149 inglorious near-the-end-of-his-career games for our hometown Houston Buffs.
Years ago in St. Louis, I asked Jim Delsing what he remembered, if anything, about the moment he took Eddie Gaedel’s place as the runner at first on August 19, 1951. “You bet there is,” Delsing said, with a smile that belied his seriously expressed protestation. “Gaedel had the nerve to pat me on the butt at first base before taking off running for our dugout. I didn’t like it at first,” Delsing added, “but then I came to my senses and remembered that we were the Browns, and playing baseball for a guy named Bill Veeck. Before the next play even moved the game forward,” he added, “I already had put the butt slap into my ‘what the heck’ file.”
By the next day, August 20, 1951, the iconic photo of “Take a Walk Eddie” that our featured art piece above is so beautifully named and based upon, had filled the television screens and sports pages of newspapers all across America. That was about as close as we came to Internet immediacy back in the day, but the impression lasted, taking on a mystique of its own as the feisty accomplishment of a 3’7″ tall major league batter – with that unforgettable batting stance.
Make sure you have your sound turned on before viewing the song sample link. We are simply humbled and happy that it happened at all, and glad to have become an active member of the organization that exists to make sure that baseball always remembers and honors the name of Eddie Gaedel to the fullest extent that is both appropriate and possible.
Here’s the sample link: http://wdrv.it/1EhfgzG
And, by the way, “HAIL EDDIE!” is supposed to be the riotous verbal hashtag salute to Eddie Gaedel at the end of the anthem. Next year, I think it will be.
When we get our copy of the complete 2015 meeting video, we will post it here too at The Pecan Park Eagle. Meanwhile, enjoy this delicious taste by link.
In case you may wish to follow how beautifully true the choral group is to the new written lyrics, here they are again below for your convenience. Since this is an edited version, simply jump over the Verse this time. On this recording, everything begins under the Melody line:
The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel
(Verse, Melody and Chorus: to the tune of
“Rudolph, The Red-Nosed Reindeer”)
By Bill McCurdy, 1999. (Minor Revisions, 03/15/2015)
You know Pee Wee and Scooter and short guys named Patek,
And Wee Willie Keeler – as small as a flyspeck,
All little people who drew baseball paychecks,
But, do you recall,
The most famous baseball short guy of them all?
Bill Veeck, the Brownie owner,
Wore some very shiny clothes!
And if you saw his sport shirt,
You would even say, “It glows!”
All of the other owners,
Used to laugh and call him names!
They wouldn’t let poor Bill Veeck,
Join in any owner games!
Then one humid summer day,
Veeck signed a tiny man.
He smiled like a kid in a Panama suit,
Squeaking, “Play me – when you can!”
His name was Eddie Gae-del,
Inches short of four feet tall!
He never played much baseball;
He was always just too small!
He wasn’t small on courage,
Eddie saw the larger plan.
Took his heart out of storage,
Making him the bigger man!
Then one day in Sportsman’s Park,
Eddie went to bat!
Took four balls and walked to first,
Then retired – just like that!
Oh, how the purists hated,
Adding little Eddie’s name,
To the big book of records,
“ Gaedel” bore a blush of shame!
Now when you look up records,
Look up Eddie’s O.B.P.!
It reads a cool One Thousand,
Safe for all eternity!