The Gaedele family, or “Gaedel”, has combined for 519 professional baseball games, 518 of them coming from current River City Rascal Kyle Gaedele and one historical game coming from his great uncle, Eddie Gaedel.
In August of 1951, Gaedel was offered a one day contract by Bill Veeck to play for the St. Louis Browns, now the St. Louis Cardinals and Gaedel became famous for one plate appearance in a doubleheader game against the Detroit Tigers.
His at-bat came on Aug. 19 and three weeks after it’s 65th anniversary, the St. Louis Cardinals will be giving away Gaedel’s bobblehead Friday night as the Cardinals take on the Milwaukee Brewers at Busch Stadium.
On that date over six decades ago, Eddie Gaedel was called upon as a pinch-hitter in the first inning against Tigers pitcher Bob Cain and he stood in the right-handed batter’s box at 3 foot seven, 65 pounds, making him the shortest and lightest player to ever appear in a Major League Baseball game.
Gaedel, who dropped the “e” from his last name, drew a four pitch walk and sources say none of the pitches to Gaedel were close to the zone. When Kyle’s great uncle ran down and touched first base, the historical moment came to a close as he was pinch-ran for and tipped his hat as he exited the field to a crowd of over 18, 000.
“The whole stunt with Bill Veeck to offer him that one day contract to get an at-bat was very cool,” Gaedele said Thursday afternoon during batting practice in preparation for game three of the Frontier League Divisional Series Friday night. “I am very proud to be a part of this baseball family and unfortunately he passed away long before I was born but if he didn’t I would love for him to watch me play and to sit down with him and hear about his experience.”
Kyle Gaedele was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Padres in the 2011 Major League Baseball June Amatuer Draft out of Valparasio University and has played as high as the Double-A Level (San Antonio Missions).
In his first year with the Rascals, Gaedele finished out the 96 game regular season with a career best .308 batting average, 14 home runs and 50 RBI which all rank second among on the team.
While having a stellar year, the 26 year old did it while wearing number 18, similar to what he great uncle Eddie wore during his Major League at-bat.
The St. Louis Browns had Gaedel wear a jersey with the number, 1 / 8 on it, which has been said to be the Browns bat boy jersey number at the time.
“Honestly I didn’t even realize that the number 18 I wear resembles the 1 / 8 he wore. I just kind of picked the number at the beginning of the season but it’s a nice coincidence.”
The great nephew Kyle got to see that jersey as it was on display when he made his first visit to Cooperstown in 2001.
“That was a really neat experience and since I have never got to see a recording of the at-bat, the majority of my memories of him have come from seeing photos and his display in the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame,” Gaedele said. “Besides that, the only thing we had was the bat that Eddie used during his plate appearance which was really cool to have.”
The bobble head would also be cool to have but when the Cardinals are giving it out on Friday night, Kyle will be in Marion, Illinois, playing in game three of the Frontier League Playoffs Divisional Round against the Southern Illinois Miners and the Arlington Heights native is one win away from advancing to the Championship Round.
“A lot of people are asking me if I can get them one that the Cardinals are giving away this weekend. I think to have your own bobble head would be awesome and I’m sure Eddie would have loved it.”