This day in sports: St. Louis Browns make big change at pinch-hitter

Eddie Gaedel, a 3-foot-7 stuntman, pinch-hits for the St. Louis Browns against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 19, 1951.
(Associated Press)

It was a mighty mite day for the St. Louis Browns when 3-feet, 7-inch Eddie Gaedel pinch-hit on this date in 1951 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers.

Gaedel, who wore the number 1/8, was signed to a contract the day before by Browns’ owner Bill Veeck and batted for rookie Frank Saucier in the first inning of the nightcap.

Detroit’s Bob Cain walked Gaedel on four pitches and Gaedel was replaced at first base with a pinch-runner. AL President Will Harridge voided Gaedel’s contract after the game.


The Browns players didn’t mind Gaedel joining the team. Pitcher Ned Garver summed it up when he said, “If it will help me win my 15th game, it’s all right with me.”

After setting the record for the smallest person to play in a major league game, he returned to his home in Chicago, saying, “I felt like Babe Ruth.”

Fernando Tatis Jr.’s grand slam for the San Diego Padres renewed the debate over whether baseball’s unwritten rules have a place in the modern game.

Aug. 18, 2020

More memorable games and outstanding sports performances on Aug. 19, through the years:

1909 — In first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, 12,000 spectators watched Austrian engineer Louis Schwitzer win a five-mile race with an average speed of 57.4 mph. The track’s surface of crushed rock and tar broke up in a number of places and caused crashes that killed two drivers, two mechanics and two fans. The surface was later replaced with 3.2 million paving bricks, laid in a bed of sand and fixed in mortar, which earned it the nickname “The Brickyard.”

1921 — Ty Cobb, known as “The Georgia Peach,” collected his 3,000th hit when he singled off of Elmer Myers of the Boston Red Sox in the second game of a doubleheader at Detroit. Cobb, at age 34, was the youngest player to reach the 3,000-hit milestone. He would end his career with 4,191, the most in baseball history until Sept. 11, 1985, when Pete Rose surpassed it with a single to left-center off of San Diego’s Eric Show at Cincinnati.

1957 — Horace Stoneham, owner of the New York Giants, announced that the team’s board of directors had voted 8-1 in favor of moving the franchise to San Francisco. The Giants would start the 1958 season in Seals Stadium, a Pacific Coast League park. The vote came after Stoneham was approached by Brooklyn Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley and the two agreed to move their teams to the West Coast, ending an era of National League baseball in New York.

1965 — Jim Maloney of the Cincinnati Reds pitched a 10-inning no-hitter when he beat the Chicago Cubs 1-0 in the first game of a doubleheader at Wrigley Field. Maloney, who had to pitch out of several jams, threw 187 pitches and walked 10, a big league record for walks in a no-hit game. Leo Cardenas’ home run off of Larry Jackson was the difference in the score.


1969 — Four years later, Ken Holtzman of the Cubs pitched a no-hitter when he shut out the Atlanta Braves 3-0 at Wrigley Field. Ron Santo’s three-run home run in the first inning off of Phil Niekro provided all the offense Holtzman needed. The 23-year-old left-hander became the first Cub since Don Cardwell held the St. Louis Cardinals hitless in 1960 to throw a no-hitter at Wrigley Field. He did it without striking out a batter, the third pitcher in baseball history to toss the gem without registering a strikeout.

1984 — Lee Trevino sank an 18-foot birdie putt on the 72nd hole and it gave him a three-under 69 and a 273 total that beat Gary Player and Lanny Wadkins by four strokes in the PGA Championship at Shoal Creek Country Club in Birmingham, Ala. It was Trevino’s sixth major tournament victory and his second PGA Championship but, alas, it turned out to be the last win of his career on the PGA tour.

1995 — Mike Tyson started his comeback after serving three years in prison on a rape conviction when he knocked out Peter McNeeley in the first round at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas. McNeeley’s manager Vinnie Vecchione jumped into the ring to stop the fight after Tyson floored his boxer twice, the first time with just 10 seconds gone in the bout.

2001 — Michael Schumacher, behind the wheel of a Ferrari, notched his fourth Formula One championship and matched Alain Prost’s series record of 51 victories when he won the Hungarian Grand Prix at Hungaroring track in Budapest. Schumacher, from Germany, led from start to finish with the exception of two pit stops. Teammate Rubens Barrichello of Brazil was second and the one-two finish ensured Ferrari of its third straight constructor’s title.

2014 — NBA referee Dick Bavetta, 74, announced his retirement after a 39-year career in which he never missed an assignment. Bavetta officiated a record 2,635 consecutive regular-season games after starting his NBA career on Dec. 2, 1975 at Madison Square Garden. In that game, Dave Cowens scored 25 points and grabbed 21 rebounds to lead the Boston Celtics past the New York Knicks in front of a crowd announced at 19,694. Bavetta also worked 270 playoff games, including 27 in the NBA Finals.

Sources: The Times, Associated Press