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The Legacy Of Eddie Gaedel

If the name in this post’s headline sounds familiar, it should. Eddie Gaedel, a Chicago native, stood three feet, seven inches tall (a fact confirmed by his page at baseball-reference.com), and was put into a game by then-St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck as a stunt on August 19, 1951. Veeck produced a signed contract to the umpire, who then let Gaedel play. As you can guess (if you don’t already know), he walked on four pitches.

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Now, Eddie’s great-nephew, Kyle Gaedele (Eddie had changed the spelling so his name would be properly pronounced), a 6-4 outfielder, is playing college baseball at Valparaiso University and is one of the best players in the Northwoods League, a summer wood-bat league for college players, many of whom eventually make the major leagues. Kyle is proud of his legacy:

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‘’I don’t get tired of talking about my great-uncle,‘’ Gaedele said during a clubhouse interview last week. ’’I’m proud of it. I knew about him ever since I can remember. In 2001, we went to [the National Baseball Hall of Fame in] Cooperstown when they did a re-enactment of the whole situation. I was 11 years old. It was awesome.’’

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The minor leagues are filled with baseball stunts. Would Gaedele consider a re-enactment?

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‘’I wouldn’t be against it,‘’ he said. ’’I’m all about having fun.’’

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Gaedele’s offseason home is Arlington Heights, where his parents live. His father, Bob, owns the historic bat. It’s likely he will bring the bat to Madison before the regular season ends Aug. 16.

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’’It’s smaller than a miniature bat you can get at a professional baseball game,’’ Gaedele said.

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Kyle Gaedele was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays out of high school in 2008, and will be draft-eligible again next summer. Maybe he’ll get the chance to continue his great-uncle’s family legacy in the major leagues — only this time, it won’t be a publicity stunt.