Description

    1946 Eddie Gaedel Signed Real Photo Postcard.

    "Eddie, I've got your life insured for a million dollars. I've got a gun stashed up on the roof. But don't you let any of that bother you. You just crouch over like you've been doing and take four pitches, huh?"

    Bill Veeck, St. Louis Browns owner and the greatest showman in the history of our National Pastime, probably hadn't actually posted a sniper atop Sportsman's Park, but it wouldn't have been the craziest thing he'd ever done. In the course of his four decades in the front offices of the Phillies, Indians, Browns and White Sox, Veeck authored some of the most outlandish stunts in Major League history. Ten Cent Beer Night at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1974 quite predictably degenerated into a drunken riot, complete with multiple streakers and a barrage of projectiles raining down from the grandstands, necessitating a forfeit for the home team. Disco Demolition Night ended the same way at Comiskey, the outfield strewn with shards of LP records and several thousand crazed fans.

    But the Hall of Fame executive will always be best remembered for the Gaedel stunt, the first and certainly the most peaceful of his three greatest hits. Half a dozen years had passed since the St. Louis Browns had placed better than seventh in the American League when Veeck purchased an eighty percent stake in the club prior to the 1951 season, and he was realistic about his chances at making a run for the flag anytime soon. So, if losing was inevitable, best to do it with a smile.

    Fans and press hoping for something special from Veeck as the Browns celebrated the American League's Golden Anniversary on August 19, 1951 were initially disappointed. Eddie Gaedel, a three-foot seven-inch tall "little person" burst out of a papier-mache cake during the intermission between the first and second games, a scene that was good for a chuckle, sure, but fell well short of Veeck's promise of "a festival of surprises" that had enticed ticket buyers.

    But the cake gag revealed itself as a cunning misdirection when the Browns came to bat in the bottom of the first inning and Gaedel trotted out to the plate to pinch hit for lead-off batter Frank Saucier with the number "1/8" applied to the back of his tiny St. Louis Browns jersey. Umpire Ed Hurley immediately summoned Browns manager Zack Taylor, who was prepared with a copy of Gaedel's contract on hand along with a copy of the team's active roster with room for Gaedel's addition. Laughter echoed through the stadium as Taylor confirmed that all paperwork was in order.

    "Keep it low," Detroit Tigers pitcher Bob Swift advised southpaw Bob Cain on the mound over the cacophony of guffaws, but Cain could barely contain his own laughter as he gazed in on Gaedel at the plate, crouched into a deep DiMaggio stance that contracted his strike zone to virtual non-existence. Four pitches later, Gaedel was on his way to first, stopping twice to tip his hat to the fans as the crowd of 18,000 roared its approval. Gaedel was immediately lifted for a pinch runner, his Major League career even shorter than his frame.

    Likewise tiny is the supply of authentic autograph exemplars from this little Big Leaguer, and here we find an unimprovable example thereof. The real photo postcard finds Gaedel promoting Mercury Records, with text on the reverse supplying the vintage with the identification of "Little Eddie" as twenty-one years old. The obverse is inscribed, "Best Wishes, Eddie Gaedel" in 9+/10 black fountain pen ink.

    An included letter of provenance is signed by the nephew of a Chicago building contractor who did repairs in Gaedel's apartment and befriended the diminutive celebrity. Full LOA from James Spence Authentication.


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    ‡ The owner placed a late bid on this unreserved lot and repurchased it, subject to applicable commission.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2015
    30th-31st Thursday-Friday
    Internet/Mail Bids: 5
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