The Tragic Story of Eddie Gaedel, The Shortest MLB Player Who Batted Against The Detroit Tigers
Having been able to talk to Ken Burns a few times about his documentaries, I can definitely tell that his Baseball documentary is one of the more lighthearted projects that he got to work on. The documentary spans the entire history of baseball and brings up some pretty interesting stories.
None more so Than the story of Eddie Gaedel a little person who only measured in at 3‘7“ and was eventually known as the shortest player in major league, history, when he played on August 19, 1951, stepping up to the plate as a St. Louis Brown going up against the Detroit Tigers.
What Did Eddie Gaedel Do?
Gaedel was walked during four straight balls and even dawned the number 1/8 on the back of his jersey. Bob Kane, the Detroit Tigers pitcher walked him during his only at-bat pinch-hitting for the game. Leadoff hitter but was replaced by a pinch runner as he walked off the field to a standing ovation.
A Sad Ending For Eddie Gaedel
Unfortunately, as BuzzFeed remarked, the appearance didn’t pay much, and he was met with a tragic ending. Although his life was cut short, one member of the Detroit Tigers paid him the respect he deserved at his funeral:
He was paid just $100 for his one-day appearance in professional baseball. Tragically, Gaedel was only 36 years old when he was beaten to death by men who followed him home from his job at a bowling alley. The only representative from major league baseball to show up at his funeral was Bob Cain, the Tigers' pitcher who pitched to him.