Who is the shortest mlb player? MLB pitchers are some of the tallest pro athletes on the planet. These towering giants routinely clock in over 6’4”, with some of the best to ever do it, like Randy Johnson, scraping the sky at nearly seven feet tall.
Their lanky builds, wide wingspans and giant stride-lengths work like a medieval trebuchet, launching the baseball at mach speeds.
But it’s not just pitchers who use their size to throw the ball or drive it out of the park — the majority of pro baseball players these days are well over six feet tall.
But who are the shortest MLB players in history? And with so much going in favor of taller players, is there even any room for the little guys in baseball?
Who Is The Shortest Active MLB Player?
Jose Altuve and Tony Kemp are both listed as 5’6″, making them tied for the title of shortest active MLB player.
Coincidentally, the two infielders both signed their first pro contract with the Houston Astros. Altuve as an undrafted free agent in 2007, and Kemp in 2013 as a fifth-round pick out of Vanderbilt.
Both have stuck around the big leagues since their respective call-ups, and both won a World Series ring with the Astros in 2017.
Who Is the Shortest Player in MLB History?
At 3’7”, Eddie Gaedel is the shortest MLB player of all time. To no one’s surprise, Gaedel drew a walk in his one and only career plate appearance.
But Gaedel’s plate appearance was just a publicity stunt. What about real baseball players?
As far as the shortest player who played in more than one professional game, there is a lot of debate among baseball historians.
Stubby Magner was a 5’3” middle infielder who logged 11 games with the New York Highlanders (who later became the Yankees) in the dead-ball era. Then there’s Pompeyo “Yo-Yo” Davalillo, a 5’3” shortstop who batted .293 through 19 games for the 1953 Washington Senators.
Other sources list Bob Emmerich (1923 Boston Braves) and Mike McCormack (1904 Brooklyn Superbas) among others, who were all listed at 5’3” in the record books.
But those players are long gone, so there is no way to know for sure.
The legendary Eddie Gaedel, the unquestioned shortest MLB player of all-time
Though he was only brought into the game for one at-bat as a publicity stunt, the appearance would live on forever in baseball history. Standing at a whopping 3-foot-7-inches, there will never be another player in history to be shorter than Eddie.
At 5’3″, introducing Stubby Magner
While his career was shortlived, Stubby Magner was a trailblazer for players who stood well-below the average baseball player. In 13 games, Magner would record 7 hits, 4 RBIs, and a stolen base.
Though he only played in 13 games and finished his career with a .212 batting average, Magner would help open doors for shorter players such as Jose Altuve and Joe Morgan.
POMPEYO “YO-YO” DAVALILLO
The most successful player of those highlighted in this article is Yo-Yo Davalillo, who played in 19 games for the Washington Senators in 1953. He finished the season with a .293 batting average and 2 RBIs.
While Davalillo shares the second-place ranking of shortest MLB players, he is also a traiblazer for Venezuelan baseball players as he was just the fourth to play in the MLB at the time.
Mr. Hall of Fame, “Wee Willie” Keeler
Standing 5’4″, Willie Keeler is not only the first Hall of Fame player on this list, but he is also one of the shortest Hall of Fame athletes in any professional sport. Keeler, one of the greatest contact hitters of all-time, was notorious for being nearly impossible to strike out. Keeler has the highest career at bats-per-strikeout ratio in MLB history.
Keeler will live forever in the annals of baseball history as not only one of the shortest MLB players of all-time, but also one of the greatest hitters in MLB history. Through 19 seasons, Keeler finished with an astonishing career batting average of .341, with 2,932 hits and 495 stolen bases.
“The Cricket” Freddie Patek, one of baseball’s scrappiest players
The final player highlighted in this article is Freddie Patek, who currently ranks as the fifth shortest MLB player of all-time. While he was not known for his power, Patek was a menace on defense and on the basepaths.
He spent 14 seasons in the Majors from 1968-1981, spending time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, and the California Angels. At the end of his career, Patek finished with 385 stolen bases and 1,340 hits, while being named an All-Star on three occasions, as well as a place in the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.
The Shortest Baseball Player
The St. Louis Browns and Detroit Tigers were playing a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis on August 19, 1951. The owner of the Browns was Bill Veeck. He was known for putting on a good show for spectators. He promised the Brown’s fans he’d provide them with a special surprise between the games of the doubleheader.
As part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the American League, a paper-mache cake was brought out. This was done as part of a promotion by Falstaff Brewery. To the crowd’s surprise, a 26-year-old dwarf named Eddie Gaedel jumped out of the cake wearing a St. Louis Browns uniform. The crowd did not expect what would happen next.
Prior to the Game
Eddie Gaedel was wrapped in blankets and secretly taken into Bill Veeck’s hotel room prior to the doubleheader. He was given a Brown’s uniform owned by the son of the club’s vice president. The uniform’s number 6 on the back was changed to 1/8.
Pre-game literature, as well as scorecards given to the media and fans, listed a player that had #18. Nobody suspected anything. Gaedel signed a contract worth $15,400. This equaled $100 for the day he would play professional baseball.
This pay was equal to the minimum scale wage for an American Guild of Variety Artists (AGVA) act. The normal 30-day clause guaranteeing severance pay after being let go was waived by Gaedel. Veeck also had a $1 million life insurance policy taken out on Gaedel in case something unfortunate occurred.
Learning to Bat
The goal was for Gaedel to squat low at the plate and not swing; he was supposed to draw a walk. Gaedel practiced crouching and holding a toy bat. He was quite a showman and could take swings and look like he was getting ready to bat.
When Bill Veeck suspected Gaedel was tempted to swing, he warned Gaedel that he’d taken out a $1 million life insurance policy on him. Veeck said he’d have someone on the roof of the stadium with a rifle ready to shoot Gaedel if he even appeared to be thinking about swinging the bat while at the plate.
In the Game
Bob Cain was the Detroit Tigers pitcher. He took the mound during the bottom of the first inning and was busy warming up. Gaedel came into the game in the bottom of the first inning as a pinch-hitter for Frank Saucier. The umpire was Ed Hurly. He yelled to the Browns manager Zack Taylor for a meeting.
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