Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Eddie Gaedel: The Little Guy Who Won't Go Away

Posted By on Wed, Aug 12, 2015 at 6:00 AM

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Two years before his death, in 1959, a fan sent Gaedel some money to say thanks for the fun he had provided in St. Louis eight years before. Gaedel wrote back and said he would buy a birthday gift for his mother. In the letter, a delusional Gaedel referred to Will Harridge, president of the American League, as a "little bastard" (never mind that Harridge was a six-footer) who "ruined my career."

It is a long, type-written letter. Gaedel went on to say: "I get in fights, because they don't believe I played ball. A cop in Cincinatty arrested me once and said I swore at him. That's a lie. I broke a guy's nose in Chicago when he called me a lier. Sometimes a guy has to do that. Just because I'm a short guy, I aint afraid to use my fists. Sometimes I think maybe I should of never worked for Mr. Veeck. I got a hundred bucks, but it wasn't all good. Even my mother says maybe I should of staid in Chicago. My mother says I have a bad temper and its gonna come to no good."

He typed his full name, Edward Carl Gaedel, and signed it "Eddie Gaedel."

Because Gaedel didn't do many autographs, the price on his signature was once listed as $20,000 in a collectors' magazine. On eBay, the Gaedel scorecard was selling for $1,200 several years ago. And of course, Gaedel's bat fetched the highest price of all, to an anonymous buyer on the Internet.

The seller was Bob Gaedele, Eddie Gaedel's nephew. As it turns out, Eddie was the only one in the family who shortened his last name by one letter. Growing up, the diminutive boy was bullied and ridiculed, and often called "guh-delly." He thought that by dropping the third "E," at least his irritants would say his name right.

Bob Gaedele, 57, wasn't even born when his uncle batted. He was ten when his father, who was Eddie's average-sized brother, gave him the bat.

Bob Gaedele, in a recent phone interview, says that he decided to auction the bat when he was told that it might cost $5,000 to get it appraised, after which insurance might run $200 a month. Heritage Auctions, the company that sold the bat, estimated it might bring $100,000. The final bid was for less than half of that. Gaedele says he doesn't know the identity of the buyer.

Attempts to locate the bat for this article were unsuccessful. A spokesperson for Heritage didn't know if the bat had been resold: "In two years, the bat would not have increased much in value."

Bob Gaedele is continuing his uncle's heritage in another way: His son, Kyle Gaedele, is an outfielder who was drafted by the San Diego Padres.

Kyle Gaedele, 25, is playing for the San Antonio Missions of the Texas League -- a team that Frank Saucier played for 65 years ago.

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