Eddie Gaedel Athletic Supporter
“My epitaph is inescapable. It will read ‘He sent a midget up to bat.’” ~ Bill Veeck, Jr.
A self-proclaimed “hustler” and a baseball owner who was decidedly antiestablishment, Bill Veeck, Jr. was the greatest promotional genius and innovator the game has ever seen. Baseball’s version of P.T. Barnum was in the historic first class of electees to the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals in 1999. Although Veeck gave us Wrigley Field’s ivy-covered walls and Comiskey Park’s exploding scoreboard, he is perhaps best remembered as the mastermind behind one of baseball’s most famous stunts, when he sent 3’7” midget Edward Carl Gaedel to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the woebegone St. Louis Browns in 1951. The date was August 19 and the place was Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, where Gaedel stepped up to the plate, and into baseball immortality, during the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.
While the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum houses Eddie Gaedel’s jersey, with the number 1/8 stitched on its backside, the Baseball Reliquary maintains the athletic supporter worn to the plate by Gaedel during his historic at-bat. The athletic supporter, which was retrieved from the shower room floor at Sportsman’s Park, was donated to the Reliquary by the Veeck family.
Other Eddie Gaedel artifacts in the Reliquary’s permanent collections are a miniature trophy presented to him by the Falstaff Brewery, radio sponsor of the St. Louis Browns, and a letter written by Gaedel in 1959, just two years prior to his death. The letter provides significant insight into his personality: he was closely attached to his mother, Helen, and was filled with animosity towards American League President Will Harridge, whom Gaedel describes as a “little bastard,” accusing the baseball exec of ruining his career by banning midgets from the game.
Eddie Gaedel Miniature Trophy
This miniature trophy was inscribed to Eddie Gaedel and presented to him by the Falstaff Brewery, radio sponsor of the St. Louis Browns. Although its diminutive size is not easily discernible in the photo at right, it is dwarfed in the photo at left when placed next to a more standard-sized trophy, in this case Steve Bilko’s 1957 Pacific Coast League Most Valuable Player award, also in the collection of the Baseball Reliquary. (Photos courtesy of Larry Goren)