Gaedel Redux Implodes

AUGUST 19, 1951, EDDIE GAEDEL BATS; ONCE WAS ENOUGH.

A while back, I wrote a column on Eddie Gaedel, the only midget or dwarf to ever bat in the big leagues. The link to that WordPress piece is:

https://thepecanparkeagle.wordpress.com/2010/04/24/the-ballad-of-eddie-gaedel-2/

Well, it seems this past summer it happened again. Sort of. Some folks up in Missouri ran out of fresh ideas and decided to commemorate Gaedel’s iconic moment by sending a 16-year old dwarf to bat for the Ricer City Rascals in an independent league professional game played in O’Fallon, Missouri against the Oakland County Cruisers.

You can check out the original story, plus pictures, that both cover this event by linking on to the St. Louis Browns Blog Spot and checking out the story as it was reported by St. Louis Browns Fan Club President and Editor in Chief, Bill Rogers. Just scroll down to August 20, 2010 and select the story entitled:

River City Rascals Salute St. Louis Browns Historical Society & Eddie Gaedel Anniversary

The St. Louis Browns BlogSpot link is http://thestlbrowns.blogspot.com

Your visit t0 the site also will be a fine opportunity to check out some of the other historic stories that Bill Rogers and Company have assembled about the old Browns, the same Browns that left St. Louis fifty-six years ago in 1954 to become the Baltimore Orioles. One of the stories even includes the language of haste we know as “breaking news.” You’ve got to believe, at first,  that any news that could be breaking over a half century beyond the funeral of the club must have been keeping in a freezer somewhere. Just read it and come to grips with the fact that even urgency is locked into the perception of the beholder. I’m sure there must be at least one centenarian remaining alive in Boston for whom the news of Babe Ruth’s sale to the New York Yankees still strikes sharply to the quick point of pain.

At any rate, for $25.00 a year, membership in the St. Louis Browns Fan Club is one of the best hidden values in baseball. Give it a look and some thought.

Meanwhile, the abortive attempt to recreate the Eddie Gaedel experience failed in troubled River City. Nick Hagan played the part, and the club even replicated all the moves that the Browns took back in 1951, right down to bringing Hagan out in a cake-shaped container prior to the game.

When the Rascals then came in to take their first at bats in the bottom of the first, “Gaedel” was then announced as the pinch hitter for the first man due up. Here’s where the script changes.

This “Gaedel” (Hagan) was about four inches taller than the original. He also took only four pitches, as did the iconic midget, but three of those were called strikes. Historic justice prevailed. Nick Hagan had to take the long walk back to the dugout as a strikeout victim. He would not tie Gaedel’s career On Base Percentage (OBP) of 1.000 and waltz airily away into the record books with a perfect stat record of his brief achievement.

Terrific. That’s what the folks in River City get for being short on new ideas. Had it worked, we might have been forced to hear about annual walks to vertically challenged batters in the boondock leagues of this country – and maybe even bracing ourselves for the reintroduction of some other far-from-original ideas. How about building a new domed stadium with a roof that cannot be opened, but one that will work as a cookie-cutter venue for sports of all kinds? How about starting a newspaper, one that comes with a sports section and plenty of sports writers?

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7 Responses to “Gaedel Redux Implodes”

  1. Sumner Hunnewell Says:

    Hi,

    I had planned on going to this but a family emergency kept me from it.

    However, I know that the event was billed as a tribute to Bill Veeck, not Eddie Gaedel. Nick Hagan genuinely enjoyed his time there as he was back during the Rascals playoff & championship series, which they won. I talked to the player who was catching when Hagan was at bat (when the catcher came to Gateway). I could tell that he wasn’t bothered by the event at all. (After all, this is independent league baseball…the Evanville in-between innings “pluck the polyp” game comes to mind.)

    From what I understand, Nick will have his own bobblehead next year and, unlike Eddie Gaedel, will get a championship ring.

    And, did I tell you that Bill Veeck’s son is part owner of the Rascals?!?

    Sumner

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Hi Sumner!

      Thanks for checking in with all that fresh information. I hope I didn’t sound too serious in my protestations. As you point out, it was only an independent league game recreation.

      As for the major league ban on midgets that supposedly kicked in as a result of Eddie Gaedel, I wonder what it is by height in inches, if anything? And how might that kind of restriction fly through the courts these days if a seriously talented small person really wanted to play major league baseball in the 21st century?

  2. bbprof Says:

    I was there. After the dwarf, who was actually five or six inches taller than the late Eddie Gaedel, as well as 65 pounds heavier, took the first strike right down the middle, I kept yelling at him to get lower, “get lower.” But it was to no avail, because the second one cut the middle of the plate as well. By the time he struck out on the 4th pitch, his butt was nearly touching the ground. What a grave disappointment. It was like eating cotton candy without the sugar surge.

    There was no joy in Brownsville that night because little Eddie had struck out. I heard that somewhere.

    Bill Borst, Browns Fan Club founder and President emeritus

  3. Anthony Cavender Says:

    Is Eddie Gaedel’s AB in the Baseball Encyclopedia?

  4. Mark Wernick Says:

    Bill, I tried to attach a photo of my father at his 90th birthday party last month. No, he wasn’t born quite yet at the time of the Ruth sale. But the gentleman standing next to him in the photo, Mr. Harry Pepper, who celebrated his 100th birthday the previous month, was 10 years old at the time of the sale. He saw Ruth and Gehrig play when he was an adult. He also saw some Knute Rockne football. Sadly, there appears to be no way to attach photos to this comment blog. But it’s great fun reminiscing with Harry about Woodrow Wilson, prohibition, and other events of the era.

    • Bill McCurdy Says:

      Mark:

      There should be a way to attach photos to blog comments. I’ll look into it. In the meanwhile, please send me that photo by e-mail attachment. I’ve got to see that man while we’re figuring out how to get him fully displayed online. I think you have my e-mail address. Just in case, it’s houston_buff@hotmail.com . – Bill

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