With single appearance, Gaedel etched place in history

With single appearance, Gaedel etched place in history

Despite accruing just one career plate appearance, Eddie Gaedel has been a lasting part of baseball folklore due to the unusual nature of his brief Major League stint.

When the 26-year-old suited up for the St. Louis Browns on Aug. 19, 1951, he became the shortest player to appear in a big league game. Standing 3-foot-7 and wearing No. 1/8, Gaedel pinch-hit for Frank Saucier in the first inning of Game 2 of a doubleheader vs. the Detroit Tigers at Sportsman's Park.

Gaedel -- whose small stature gave him a tiny strike zone as he took his stance in the batter's box -- saw four straight pitches sail high from Tigers pitcher Bob Cain. He was then lifted for pinch-runner Jim Delsing after reaching first base.

The peculiar scene was the contrivance of Browns owner Bill Veeck, who is regarded as one of the most innovative promotional men in the history of baseball. Seeking a special attraction to spark interest in the celebration he devised for the 50th anniversary of the American League, Veeck signed Gaedel, who was a little person born in Chicago on June 8, 1925, to a contract that would pay him $100 a day.

American League president Will Harridge voided the contract two days after Gaedel's debut, and Gaedel retired with a flawless on-base percentage. He died less than 10 years later, on June 18, 1961.