Be sure to check out Part One of this series, where I told three hard to believe football stories.
The 1951 St. Louis Browns were a horrible baseball team. Finishing with just 52 wins, attendance was a constant struggle for owner Bill Veeck. What could he do to get people to watch his pathetic team?
His solution was extremely creative.
On 18th, 1951, Veeck signed Eddie Gaedel, a three-feet-seven inch, 65-pound midget to a legitimate MLB contract. When Gaedel was announced as a pinch-hitter in the first inning, their opponent, the Detroit Tigers, were obviously enraged. With a strike-zone of just 1.5 inches, a strikeout was almost as impossible as a hit with Gaedel’s miniature bat.
When shown the signed contract, the Detroit Tigers settled down and had some fun with the awkward situation. Gaedel was under strict orders not to swing, in fact, Veeck had told him there was a high-powered rifle ready to shoot him down should he lift the bat from his shoulder. Gaedel happily complied with this request and drew a walk on four pitches. He was replaced by a pinch-runner and promptly retired, ending his major-league career.
While it was a circus of fun to everyone in attendance, American League president Will Harridge didn’t find it so funny. He banned Gaedel from appearing in any more major-league games and attempted to remove him from the official record-books. He failed, as Gaedel is still listed with a career on-base-percentage of 1.00.
Ironically, Gaedel’s signature is garnering more money than Babe Ruth’s in auctions across the country because of the rarity of this small piece of baseball history.
What Does He Mean By That?
The 1972 Milwaukee Brewers were also an abyssal team. Through the first month of action they sat with a record of 10-20. Although they didn’t do well the year before, a massive nine player trade between them and the Boston Red Sox had gone down, bringing the Brewers power-hitting first baseman George Scott and ace Jim Longborg. The Brewers should have been performing much better.
Manager Dave Bristol was getting fed up with his team’s ineptitude. During yet another losing streak he attempted to set things straight. Before leaving to the ballpark on a road-trip, Bristol had this to say to his team:
“There’ll be two buses leaving the hotel for the park tomorrow. The two o’clock bus will be for those who need a little extra work. The empty bus will leave at five o’clock.”
Three Blind Mice
In an attempt at humor and to express opinion, the organist for the 1985 Clearwater Phillies played the tune “Three Blind Mice” after a poor call by the umpires.
He became the first organist to be ejected from a baseball game.
Random Odd Facts
- Before 1859 umpires called balls and strikes behind home plate — from a rocking chair.
- The Pacific Suns, of the Independent League in 1998, traded pitcher Ken Kranhenbuhl to the Greenville Bluesman for cash, a player to be named later, and 10 pounds of Mississippi catfish.
- Willie Horton, a former Detoit Tigers outfielder, was the youngest of 21 siblings.
- After an impressive rookie year, relief pitcher Charlie Kerfeld was offered a one-year, $110,000 contract. He declined and insisted that $37.37 and 37 boxes of Jello be added to the deal in honor of his uniform number.
- Chad Curtis, a minor-leauge outfielder for the Quad Cities Angels in 1990, married his wife in a courthouse in full uniform because he was expected at the field a half-hour later.