The Eddie Gaedel Society

Eddie Gaedel In His One MLB Time at Bat August 19. 1951

Eddie Gaedel
In His One MLB Time at Bat
August 19. 1951

On August 19, 1951, 3’7″ Eddie Gaedel came to bat for the St. Louis Browns in a game against the Detroit Tigers at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis. He drew a normally ho-hum four-pitch walk, but in Eddie’s case, it was a walk into history. As the only classifiable “small statured adult” to ever come to bat in the big leagues, Gaedel may have started as a publicity stunt by Browns’ owner Bill Veeck, but in the time it took him to lead off the game as a pinch hitter for Browns center fielder Frank Saucier, take four pitches called balls, walk to first, and then forever to surrender his place on the diamond via his immediate replacement by pinch runner Jim Delsing, he found a place in baseball history for himself that was like no other before him or since. Eddie Gaedel found destiny as the only player under four feet tall to ever play Major League Baseball – and he left the game with a career “on base percentage” of 1.000 – and that’s perfection – even if it was only a total evaluation based upon one single time at bat.

Eddie Gaedel risked life and limb to stand in the batter’s box against 6’0″ tall Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers, who could have drilled him with a fast ball that could have injured or killed him. With no size, no adapted athleticism to the speed of a flying baseball, and also playing in the era of no batting helmet or other body armature, courageous little Eddie stood in there that fabled day and took his chances. We doubt that he fully understood the historical long term importance of his actions that day.

It would never happen again. After that day, baseball invalidated his playing contract and put up a wall against the use of further players in Eddie’s diminutive size range. We have never seen the specific language of those actions, but it apparently was quite effective. No other classifiable “little people” have made it into a big league game since Eddie Gaedel got there nearly 64 years ago this month.

TOM KEEFE FOUNDER & MANAGER EDDIE GAEDEL SOCIETY

TOM KEEFE
FOUNDER & MANAGER
EDDIE GAEDEL SOCIETY

Attorney Tom Keefe of Spokane, Washington Throws Right, Bats Right, and Thinks Right when it comes to the matter of doing all we can to keep the memory of Eddie Gaedel immortalized for the ages. Born April 4, 1948, Keefe has no actual memory of an event that unfolded in baseball only four months past three years later. Let’s be fair here. Even future lawyers are not creating note files at age three.

A hinge pin on Tom Keefe’s release into this particular river of passion for history may have been the simple fact that his father, who also had been an attorney before his son, gave him a copy of “Veeck – As in Wreck”, the autobiography of Bill Veeck, as a 1962 14th birthday present. And guess who young Tom discovered in that wonderfully entertaining book?

Years later, on August 19, 2011, Tom Keefe and company established the Eddie Gaedel Society, Chapter #1, in Spokane, Washington. The new group met for the first time on the 60th anniversary of Eddie Gaedel’s walk into MLB history at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane, Washington.

The Society quickly formed a purpose and goal beyond the also worthy pursuit of good fun and celebration. And here’s how it’s all found statement on the back of Manager Keefe’s baseball card:

“(The) Eddie Gaedel Society seeks Eddie’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and gathers annually at O’Doherty’s to on August 19th, “Eddie Gaedel Day,” to keep his memory alive. Additional chapters of the Eddie Gaedel Society are encouraged. For information go to:

http://takeawalkeddie.com/

The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel August 19, 2011 Program Format

The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel
August 19, 2011
Program Format

 ______________________________

EASIER TO READ VERSION OF SONG LYRICS:

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)

Verse:

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?

Melody:

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!

Chorus:

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!”

Melody:

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!

Chorus:


Then one day in Sportsman’s Park,

Eddie went to bat!

Took four balls and walked to first,

Then retired – just like that!

Melody:

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!

Hail, Eddie!

_______________________________

My whole engagement in the Eddie Gaedel Society occurred late last year because Tom Keefe found the above poem/song I had written for Eddie Gaedel on the Internet back in 1999 and made contact with me. He loved “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” and he wanted to adopt it, with my permission, as the anthem of the Eddie Gaedel Society. I was flattered, humbled, and honored by Tom’s interest in my work – and most impressed with his dedication  to the preservation and advancement of Eddie Gaedel through the society that he had created for that purpose.

I told Tom Keene right away that he had my total permission to act upon that request, if that also was the desire and intentionality of his group. As a member of the St. Louis Browns Historical Society, my own fascination with Eddie Gaedel went back to the August 19, 1951 day when he took his one and only time at bat in the big leagues. With ten years seniority on Tom Keefe in age, I was a 13-year old sandlot ballplayer in Houston at the time Eddie Gaedel did his thing. I have been a big conscious fan of the little guy since I first saw his picture and read the story the following morning.

A short time after our first contact, on November 21, 2014, I received this e-mail from Tom Keefe:

Bill:

Having exercised my considerable executive authority as founder and president of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Spokane Chapter #1, it is my great honor to notify you that your classic song, “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” has been adopted as the official ballad of the Eddie Gaedel Society, and has been scheduled for a public performance at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille & Pub in Spokane, WA, at the 5th annual meeting of the Eddie Gaedel Society next August.  A barbershop quartet that includes a gentleman who was there at Sportsman’s Park on Eddie’s big day, as a guest of Bill Veeck, will perform, as will the soon to be formed Eddie Gaedel Choir, made up of club members and O’Doherty’s regulars, some of whom claim to be actually capable of carrying a tune.  In addition, Spokesman Review columnist Doug Clark, who plays a mean guitar when he is not writing about the Eddie Gaedel Society and other important civic events in Spokane, will provide accompaniment.  We are planning on having the performance professionally audio and video recorded with the intention of uploading it to the internet, where your great contribution to the Gaedel Saga will itself be “safe for all eternity!”  Hopefully, it will then be close enough to the gates of Heaven that our hero, Saint Eddie the Little Walker, will be able to sing along with a smile.

 Regards,

Tom Keefe, President

Eddie Gaedel Society

Spokane Chapter #1

______________________________

I am deeply honored by these actions of the Eddie Gaedel Society and, had it not been for the shingles, I would have been there with Tom and everyone else on August 19th for the big night at O’Doherty’s in Spokane, Washington. I will still be there in spirit – and I will be looking forward also to seeing and hearing the digital transcription of the choral version of “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” they will be performing that night.

Thanks, Tom! I may be down, but I’m never out. At least, not so far! Please give my regards to one and all and just know that I support what the Society is doing all the way. – Regards, Bill

_______________________________

Here’s the whole program schedule for the night of August 19, 2011: Don’t many of you wish we could all just be there too?

If you have any interest in supporting the memory of Eddie Gaedel, please get in touch with Tom Keefe at the link shown earlier in this column.

Gaedel 03

Thanks, friends!

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3 Responses to “The Eddie Gaedel Society”

  1. Tom Hunter Says:

    “The Ballad of Eddie Gaedel” that was adopted as the Eddie Gaedel Society Anthem has only added to your stature, Bill. Too bad you can’t attend the meeting at O’Doherty’s Irish Grille on August 19th.

    Please get well.

  2. gregclucas Says:

    So when do the royalties start rolling in? lol

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