Baseball: Why not use midget batters?

On August 19, 1951, midget Eddie Gaedel took the batter’s box in a Browns vs. Tigers game. Tigers pitcher Bob Cain couldn’t put the ball in Gaedel’s strike zone, who was walked on four straight pitches. Upon reaching first, Gaedel was substituted for a pinch runner.

Why hasn’t another team tried to replicate this feat? Surely it would be just as hard to pitch to a midget today as fifty years ago, right?

Ok, I found this page at ESPN which says midget batters were banned. Does anyone know whether this is at the discretion of the MLB commissioner, or if there is an actual minimum height requirement? If so, what is it?

(Forgive me if this has been asked already. I thought there might even be a column on it, but I couldn’t find it.)
The “Disgraceball” link I used above is pretty amusing.

I don’t have the specific reference to the Rules of Baseball, but I do remember from Veeck’s autobiography that a minimum-height rule was put in place almost immediately after l’affaire Gaedel and in consequence of that stunt.

So that in essence answers your question, although one of the baseball wonks among the Dopers can cite the exact rule in question.

There never was a formal minimum height standard in baseball. The commissioner at the time of the Gaedel incident, Happy Chandler, simply ordered Veeck not to use Gaedel again and let it be known informally that he would take a dim view of such a stunt being pulled by any other team.

I can’t imagine that the strategy would work today. Today’s pitchers are much more talented than those of 50 years ago and regularly target small areas within the strike zone, even though the zone itself has shrunk over time. I doubt that the average pitcher today would have trouble getting three out of seven batting practice fastballs within a midget’s strike zone.

The Commissioner’s office can invalidate any contract for pretty much any halfway sensible reason. If the Commissioner thinks that a midget is making a travesty of the game, that’s pretty much it. The White Sox wanted to bring back Minie Minoso to play in the 1990s at a very old age and that was refused also.

Plus, it takes way too long for them to walk to first base.

Plus, why use a roster spot on someone whose only job is to get walked?

It’s a safe bet that a midget wouldn’t have the range to play ANY position, and these days, utilitymen are pretty important to the game.

Besides, a situation in which you’d absolutely HAVE to have a man on first doesn’t come up enough to justify the midget on the team, IMHO.

wouldn’t you just use a midget pitcher?

The pitcher, Bob Cain, was apparently laughing as he pitched. Had he tried, he probably could have put a few strikes in there.

I don’t think it would be worth it. I suspect a major league pitcher could get three strikes in there at least half the time, and even a player with a .500 on base percentage would be useless if he couldn’t hit at all and was slower than Mama Cass and couldn’t play any defensive position.

You could probably get a pretty good Great Debate going on that opening statement…I think the element of surprise had more to do with Gaedel’s base on balls than the pitcher’s control.

But the real reason you don’t see this any more is as Happy Scrappy Hero Pup says: you aren’t going to waste a roster spot on a player with only one skill. You’d even need to pinch run for him every time he got on base, so you’d blow two substitutions every time he came up. Not worth it.

A midget couldn’t field or run the bases so he’d be sitting on the bench waiting for the right time to be inserted as a PH. Bottom of the 9th, tie game, bases loaded with 2 outs. Since he almost guarantees a walk, the win is nearly a gimme. Aside from joke appearances, that’s the only scenario I envision where a midget batter would be worth it.

All jokes aside, people, midget is widely considered really really rude. I’m sure you didn’t know that. Now you do.

AFAIK, the preferred term is little person.

Midget is as bad as nigger in some people’s books. Don’t use it anymore, okay?

AFAIK, the preferred term is little person.

Isn’t midget a legitimate medical term? I always understood that the two “varieties” were midgets and dwarves.

So it sounds like there is no minimum height requirement, but teams don’t use mid-, er, “little people” as batters because 1) MLB wouldn’t allow it and 2) it would likely be innefective.

I’m sure #1 holds true, but I remain curious as to how well your average 4.5 ERA pitcher could hit a midget’s strike zone.

Everything I know on this subject is from an episode of CSI…“midget” is a carnival term. “Dwarf” or “little people” is preferred. And the two varieties you speak of are “proportional” or “non-proportional” (I think).

Veeck’s kids are still doing stunts in minor league baseball. I’m pretty sure one of his sons owned the team that had a promotion called “Nobody Night” a few years back. They did not allow a single fan in the ballpark for the first 4 or 5 innings, they had a party in the parking lot. They opened the gates at the end of that time and let everybody who bought a ticket in to watch the rest of the game.


The word “midget” has offensive connotations, while it seems “dwarf” doesn’t.

On preview: jsc1953 is correct about the technical difference being proportional and non-proportional.

Well I guess batting .500 ain’t bad. :smack:

Once true, but not used anymore. If nothing else, there are a lot fewer proportional people out there, due to hormone treatments. The terminology argument is ongoing but there is general agreement on midget.

Sorry about the hijack.

I do think having such a player would be at the level of a stupid publicity stunt, and since it’s been done, I don’t see it being done again.