June 07, 2011
Valparaiso outfielder and new MLB draft pick Kyle Gaedele says he is proud of the major league bloodline that runs through his family — no matter how short it is.
Gaedele, whom the San Diego Padres picked in the sixth round of the draft on Tuesday afternoon, is a great-nephew of 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel, the shortest (and lightest) player in major league history and star of its greatest stunt.
In 1951, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck sneaked Gaedel (legally) into the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. Wearing uniform No. 1/8, Gaedel — who was ordered not to swing — drew a walk on four pitches from an amused Bob Cain in the first inning. Gaedel was taken out for a pinch runner and the American League tore up his contract the next day.
Gaedele, who stands 6-foot-4, says he only knows what many fans do about his famous great-uncle, who weighed 65 pounds and dropped the third "e" in Gaedele for business purposes.
But he's also proud of the cool memento his family saved from Eddie's moment in the sun.
"My dad (Bob) was 5 when (Eddie) passed away. We do still have the bat. It's like a little souvenir bat. It's a pretty cool story. The more exposure I've got, the more questions I get about it. I'm proud of it and don't shy away from it."
The Gaedele family keeps the bat above its fireplace, to the apparent chagrin of the Hall of Fame, which has displayed Eddie's jersey.
And so, Eddie's story has been written. But what about Kyle? Can the kid play?
"He's going to be a steal for somebody, even if it's the second round," said Valparaiso coach Tracy Woodson, who played with the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals. "There aren't many guys out there with his tools and athleticism."
For what it's worth, Gaedele played for former major leaguer Jim Lindeman at Rolling Meadows High School in northwest suburban Chicago. If the former Cardinals players are right about Gaedele, he'll have a longer major league career than that of his great-uncle, whose lasted one plate appearance.
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