If you don’t like the way Yasiel Puig, Carlos Gomez, Bryce Harper and those other young kids disrespect the game you woulda hated Bill Veeck.
Among all of the other things he did that made baseball fun and enjoyable and altogether less serious than so many people seem to want it to be, he once sent a little person up to bat because he was sure he could draw a walk with that small strike zone. And, more to the point, because it’d be a lot of fun and would create publicity for his otherwise uninteresting St. Louis Browns team. That man’s name was Eddie Gaedel and it happened on this date in 1951.
You can read all of the details of the now-famous story of Eddie Gaedel over at the SABR website. In addition to the well-known facts of the incident — such as Veeck’s strict orders to Gaedel to not swing the bat — are lesser-known facts too. Like the fact that this wasn’t Gaedel’s last at-bat:
Gaedel capitalized on his instant fame. He appeared on radio and television shows and made personal appearances. Within a few weeks, he had raked in a substantial $17,000. Over the years he appeared at ballparks during promotional stunts. On September 6, a few weeks after his initial at-bat, Gaedel again strode to the plate for a fee during an amateur game in Sycamore, Illinois. He took two quick called strikes, berating the umpire for both. The pitcher balked and threw another pitch which Gaedel swung at and missed. He left the plate trash-talking the umpire.
Like now, people got mad then too. Like now, there are a substantial number of people in the world who wouldn’t know what fun was if it fell out of the sky, landed on their face and started to wiggle.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.