Who is the Shortest Person to Ever Play Major League Baseball?
From the earliest days of the game, Major League Baseball has been filled with players of all shapes and sizes. From towering pitchers like Randy Johnson to diminutive infielders like Ozzie Smith, the game has always celebrated players for their unique set of skills. But who is the shortest player to ever take the field in Major League Baseball?
The Storied History of Short Players
When it comes to Major League Baseball, size is not everything. There have been many diminutive players throughout baseball’s history who have made a huge impact on the game. In the early days of the game, players like Wee Willie Keeler, who stood 5’4”, were stars. Other notable players of short stature included Bobby Wallace (5’6”), Rabbit Maranville (5’5”) and Eddie Gaedel (3’7”).
The Smallest Player in MLB History
The shortest player in Major League Baseball history is Eddie Gaedel. Gaedel, who was just 3’7” and 65 pounds, made his only Major League appearance for the St. Louis Browns on August 19th, 1951. Gaedel’s appearance in the game was the result of a stunt by Browns owner Bill Veeck to draw attention to his team.
Gaedel’s Big Moment
Gaedel’s one and only plate appearance in the Major Leagues was a memorable one. He walked on four pitches and the crowd went wild. Gaedel was then replaced by a pinch runner and his Major League career was over.
Gaedel’s brief appearance in the Majors was one of the most memorable and talked about moments in baseball history. He was immortalized in the Baseball Hall of Fame with a plaque that reads:
“Eddie Gaedel, the shortest man to ever play major league baseball. He took one plate appearance on August 19, 1951, and was walked on four pitches.”
Gaedel’s legacy lives on in the game today as a symbol of the possibilities that exist in baseball, no matter how small you may be.
Gaedel’s Life After Baseball
After his brief Major League moment, Gaedel continued to make appearances at various clubs and sporting events, where he was often the center of attention. He also pursued acting and made appearances in a few films throughout the 1950s.
Gaedel passed away in 1961 at the age of 36. He was buried in a tiny casket, a fitting end for one of the smallest players in Major League history.
Other Notable Shorter Players
While Eddie Gaedel holds the record for the shortest player to ever take the field in the Major Leagues, there have been many other players of short stature who have made an impact on the game. Here is a list of some of the more notable shorter players in Major League history:
- Freddy Patek – 5’4” – Patek played shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals from 1967 to 1981. He was a three-time All-Star and won two Gold Glove awards.
- Jose Altuve – 5’6” – Altuve is the reigning American League MVP and is one of the best players in the game today. He is a five-time All-Star and four-time Silver Slugger winner.
- Nomar Garciaparra – 5’9” – Garciaparra was one of the best shortstops of his era, playing for the Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, and Athletics from 1996 to 2009. He was a six-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger winner.
- Dave Winfield – 6’0” – Winfield was one of the most feared hitters of his era, playing for the Padres, Yankees, Angels, Blue Jays, Twins, and Indians from 1973 to 1995. He was a 12-time All-Star, seven-time Gold Glove winner, and two-time World Series champion.
The game of Major League Baseball has seen its fair share of smaller players throughout its storied history. From Wee Willie Keeler to Nomar Garciaparra, these players have created a lasting legacy in the game. But none of them can top the record set by Eddie Gaedel, who at 3’7” remains the shortest player ever to take the field in the Major Leagues.
- MLB.com: Eddie Gaedel, Shortest Player in MLB History
- Sports Illustrated: Eddie Gaedel, Shortest Player in MLB History
- Baseball Hall of Fame: Eddie Gaedel