What Is The Shoe Size For A 1 Year Old The Tragic Story of Eddie Gaedel

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The Tragic Story of Eddie Gaedel

If you have been interested in baseball for a while, you surely know the story of Eddie Gaedel. For those of you who haven’t heard of him and don’t know the story, Gaedel was a midget, all three feet eight inches tall, who played one game of Major League Baseball.

A lot is known about that day, August 19, 1951. The 26-year-old Gaedel stepped up to the plate for the St. Louis Browns against the Tigers as the first batter in the second game of a doubleheader. Wearing number 1/8, he walked Bob Cain on four straight pitches. He was knocked out by Jim Delsing, and his career ended as abruptly as it had begun.

Of course, Eddie was not a career baseball player. He appeared in the game as a promotion invented by Browns owner Bill Veeck.

Normally, the story would end here. Stories about former major leaguers who only played in one game aren’t newsworthy, even a story about a pint-sized player. No one bothered to find out about Gaedel after his 15 minutes of fame. No one could tell you about Eddie the man or Eddie the ballplayer forever etched in the annals of the game.

But the man Eddie Gaedel’s story is worth telling.

After his famous game, St. Louis baseball writer Bob Broeg found him and started asking him questions. The first few questions were routine and Gaedel answered routinely. Then Broeg told him he was what he always wanted to be, a former big leaguer. Eddie then became very proud of himself. The men shook hands and that was it.

Bob Fishel was Brown’s publicist and spent a few days with Eddie before the game. He was the only baseball man who had the opportunity to know the man personally. “Veeck was looking for a dwarf, not a dwarf. When we saw him, there was no doubt he was right. I didn’t believe his world, though,” without elaborating.

Eddie appeared on several TV shows in the following weeks and earned $17,000, a very large sum in those days. His game contract was $100.

Three weeks after the game, on September 2, Eddie was arrested in Cincinnati for yelling an obscenity. He tried to convince the police that he was a big leaguer. He was arrested for disorderly conduct and released on $25 bail. According to a 1971 interview with his mother, Helen, Eddie’s small size had gotten him into trouble for much of his life.

Born in Chicago, he was stunted from the age of three due to a thyroid condition. He was chosen as a child by his mother. He made it through high school and was a clerk at Drover’s Daily Journal, a Chicago newspaper. He worked as Buster Brown’s shoe man, appearing at store openings in Chicago and St. Louis. He also worked for the Ringling Brothers Circus in the 50s and as a promotion man for Mercury Records, but refused to go with the company to California because he was afraid to go out.

In 1961, Veeck, now the owner of the White Sox, hired Gaedel and other midgets as box office salesmen. This was due to fans complaining about vendors blocking their view.

However, the end was near. Eddie suffered from high blood pressure and an enlarged heart. On June 18, 1961, he was robbed on a Southside Chicago street corner with the $11 he was carrying. After the robbery, he apparently staggered home and died in his bed of a heart attack after paramedics were unable to revive him. The coroner said he had bruises on his face and knees.

Her mother, penniless and out of touch with her other children, was devastated. Adding insult to injury, a man claimed to represent the Hall of Fame museum. The only remnants of the Hall of Fame are pictures from his brief career with catcher Bob Swift on his knees getting head high.

Gaedel’s death attracted little attention. The only baseball person who attended his funeral was Bob Cain. “I’ve never even met him, but I felt obligated to go,” said Cain, who was retired from baseball at the time after a six-year career. “It made me realize that there were no other baseball people out there.”

Cain summed up Eddie’s life “It was a pretty sad situation. It’s a shame he had to die the way he did, but I think he got into quite a bit of trouble all the time. He ended up with the wrong crowd.”

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