The obituary pages in newspapers nationwide noted the passing of former major league outfielder Jim Delsing, who succumbed to cancer at his home in Chesterfield on Thursday, May 4. He was 80.
Delsing played ten seasons in the big leagues, but he made the obit orbit for an incident that occurred during a stint with the St. Louis Browns: He pinch-ran for Eddie Gaedel.
On August 19, 1951, the hapless Browns played a doubleheader against the similarly low-rent Detroit Tigers at Sportsman's Park. Browns owner Bill Veeck, an inveterate showman, hired the three-foot-seven Gaedel to pop out of a birthday cake commemorating the 50th anniversary of the American League and the Falstaff Brewing Company, radio sponsor for the Browns. Unbeknownst to all, Veeck also contracted with Gaedel to play.
In game two of the doubleheader, Browns manager Zack Taylor inserted Gaedel as a pinch hitter. When he hefted his tiny toy bat and crouched at the plate Veeck later said he measured Gaedel's strike zone at an inch and a half the Tigers protested, but Taylor produced a legitimate contract and Gaedel was permitted to play. Pitcher Bob Cain walked him on four straight pitches. After Gaedel ran to first, Taylor sent in Delsing.
The Browns lost the game 6-2. Gaedel was banned from baseball the next day. Delsing bounced around the American League for the rest of the decade before retiring in 1960. "Jim was a good teammate to have on your ballclub," former Browns teammate and long-time friend Don Lenhardt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "He was a very good fielder and a good ballplayer."
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