Eddie Gaedel (June 8, 1925 - June 18, 1961), born in Chicago, Illinois, was an American dwarf who became famous for participating in a Major League Baseball game. Just 3'7" tall and weighing 65 pounds, he gained immortality in the second game of a doubleheader on Sunday, August 19, 1951. He was secretly signed by the St. Louis Browns and put in uniform (complete with number "1/8" on the back) as a publicity stunt by Browns owner and showman Bill Veeck. When Gaedel hinted that he might be tempted to swing at a pitch, Veeck promised to station a sniper in the stands.
After popping out of a cake between games of a doubleheader to celebrate the American League's 50th anniversary, and as a Falstaff Brewery promotion, Gaedel entered the game between the Browns and Detroit Tigers as a pinch-hitter for Frank Saucier. Immediately, umpire Ed Hurley called for Browns manager Zack Taylor. Veeck and Taylor had the foresight to have a copy of Gaedel's contract on hand.
The contract was filed late in the day on Friday, August 17. Veeck knew the league office would summarily approve the contract upon receipt and that it would not be scrutinized until Monday, August 20. Upon reading the contract, Hurley motioned for Gaedel to take his place in the batter's box. (As a result of Gaedel's appearance, all contracts must now be approved by the Commissioner of Baseball before a player can appear in a game.)
With Bob Cain on the mound - laughing at the absurdity that he actually had to pitch to Gaedel - and Bob Swift catching, Gaedel crouched with bat in hand. In his stance, Gaedel's strike zone measured just an inch and a half. Cain delivered four consecutive balls. Gaedel took his base and was replaced by pinch-runner Jim Delsing. The crowd gave Gaedel a standing ovation. The Tigers went on to win the game 6-2. American League president Will Harridge, saying Veeck was making a mockery of the game, voided Gaedel's contract the next day.
Gaedel's major league career was over, but Veeck continued to use Gaedel in other (non-playing) promotions over the years: in 1959, Gaedel and three other dwarves dressed as spacemen were seen presenting "ray guns" to White Sox players Nellie Fox and Luis Aparicio at Comiskey Park. (Gaedel reportedly said, "I don't want to be taken to your leader; I already know him.") Some claim the stunt ruined Gaedel's life; he later became a heavy drinker and died of a heart attack after being mugged in Chicago in 1961. He was just 36 years old.
Gaedel is mentioned in Terry Cashman's song homage to 1950's baseball, "Willie, Mickey, and the Duke". His "1/8" jersey is in the Baseball Hall of Fame.