Edward Carl “Eddie” Gaedel (June 8, 1925 – June 18, 1961), born in Chicago, Illinois, was an American midget who was noted for participating in a Major League Baseball game. Just 3’7″ tall and weighing 65 pounds, he gained immortality in the second game of a doubleheader on August 19, 1951. He was signed by the St. Louis Browns and put in uniform as a publicity stunt by Browns owner and showman Bill Veeck. After popping out of a cake between games of a doubleheader to celebrate the American League’s 50th anniversary, Gaedel entered the game between the Browns and Detroit Tigers as a pinch-hitter for Frank Saucier. Immediately, umpire Ed Hurley called for Browns manager Zack Taylor. Veeck and Taylor had the foresight to have a copy of Gaedel’s contract on hand.
The contract was filed late in the day on August 17. Veeck knew the league office would summarily approve the contract upon receipt and that it would not be scrutinized until Monday, August 20. Upon reading the contract, Hurley motioned for Gaedel to take his place in the batter’s box.
With Bob Cain on the mound, Gaedel crouched with bat in hand. Cain delivered four consecutive balls. Gaedel took his base and was replaced by pinch-runner Jim Delsing. The Tigers went on to win the game 6-2.
Some decried Veeck for making a mockery of the game. Others claim the event ruined Gaedel’s life; he later became a heavy drinker and died of a heart attack after being mugged in Chicago in 1961. He was just 36 years old.
Gaedel is mentioned in Terry Cashman’s song homage to 1950’s baseball “Willie, Mickey, and the Duke”.