Aug. 19, 1951: Before Eddie Gaedel went to the plate, the Post-Dispatch got a heads-up – Houston Herald

Posted: August 20, 2020 at 6:06 pm

Even the hapless St. Louis Browns had a few big baseball moments and one of the biggest stood only 3 feet 7 inches tall.

He was Eddie Gaedel, who was sent to the plate to bat leadoff at Sportsman's Park in the nightcap of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 19, 1951.

Gaedel (pronounced guh-DELL) wore a uniform belonging to Bill DeWitt Jr., the 9-year-old son of the Browns' vice president and currently chairman of the St. Louis Cardinals. The jersey had the number "1/8" on the back.

Gaedel drew a walk on four pitches from Bob Cain and was promptly lifted for a pinch-runner. Although he never set foot in another baseball game, he became an instant legend at age 26.

Using a 3-foot-7 pinch-hitter was the brainchild of owner Bill Veeck, who tried to make up in showmanship what his team lacked in talent. This was different from Veeck's other stunts because, potentially, it could have affected the outcome of a game. As a result Veeck received criticism from some sportswriters.

The night before Gaedel's game, Veeck tipped off Post-Dispatch baseball writer Bob Broeg. In turn, Broeg made sure that Post-Dispatch photographer Jack January stuck around for the second game and Gaedel's appearance in the first inning.

Typical of the Browns: In the inning Gaedel started by drawing a walk, the Brownies loaded the bases. But they failed to score. In fact, they lost the doubleheader.

January's photo gave Gaedel baseball immortality. Gaedel died 10 years later in a saloon beating in his hometown of Chicago.

Eddie Goedel with other Browns baseball players in the dugout in 1951, featured in "Lost Treasures of St. Louis." Photo by Dorrill Photographers, Missouri Historical Society Photographs and Prints Collections

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Aug. 19, 1951: Before Eddie Gaedel went to the plate, the Post-Dispatch got a heads-up - Houston Herald

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