The Mallards have signed Kyle Gaedele--the great-nephew of Eddie Gaedel, who made major league history on Aug. 19, 1951, when at 3-foot-7 he became the shortest man to ever play a game, walking on four pitches as part of a publicity stunt by St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck.
Madison, WI – November 4, 2009. The Madison Mallards are excited to announce the team’s first signed player for the 2010 campaign in the form of Valparaiso sophomore outfielder Kyle Gaedele. In his freshman season Gaedele hit three home runs and drove in 18 runs. He spent last summer in Hannibal, Mo., in the Prospect League where he stole 30 bases and hit a league-leading five homers. He was recently ranked No. 100 on the list of top collegiate baseball players by The College Baseball Blog (www.thecollegebaseballblog.com).
Gaedele has a connection to the Mallards without ever having stepped foot in Madison as he was initially recruited by then-Valparaiso Assistant Coach Chris Maliszewski, who played for the Mallards in 2003 and was an assistant coach for the team from 2005 to 2006. Maliszewski is now in his second season as the pitching coach at the University of Iowa.
Gaedele was a 32nd round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2008 after attending Rolling Meadows High School in Arlington Heights, Ill.
Claim to Fame
Gaedele is the great-nephew of Eddie Gaedel, the principal character in perhaps the most famous baseball stunt of all-time. On Aug. 19, 1951, Eddie—who stood just 3 feet, 7 inches—became the shortest player to bat in a major league game, taking a plate appearance for the St. Louis Browns while wearing the jersey number 1/8. Opposing pitcher Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers walked Gaedel on four pitches. For those scoring at home, Eddie changed the spelling of his last name for entertainment purposes in order to have it pronounced correctly.
Kyle definitely didn't receive Eddie's "short" gene--he is listed at being 6-foot-4, 220 lbs.
While Mallards General Manager Vern Stenman loves the off-the-field story Kyle brings to Madison, he is more excited about the tools Gaedele will display between the lines at the “Duck Pond” in 2010.
“He’s a guy that you look at as a potential five-tool player,” Stenman said. “He has great size and strength but can also run very well. He played every game last summer so you know he has that ‘gamer’ mentality—the guy that wants to be out there and in the lineup everyday and contribute.”
Mallards Manager C.J. Thieleke, now in his sixth season as the team’s skipper, echoes Stenman’s words and thinks Gaedele has a chance to be something special in Madison.
“I’m excited that Kyle wasn’t overmatched by using a wood bat last summer in the Prospect League, which shows that he has exceptional hand strength and can really square-up the baseball,” said Thieleke.
“He was drafted by the Rays on just his tools and raw ability so it’ll be fun to work with Kyle in helping make him an even better prospect once the 2011 MLB Draft rolls around.”
Gaedele’s signing marks the third time the Mallards will host a player with family connections to major league baseball—right-handed pitcher Jordan Hershiser (USC, 2009--Orel, dad), and catcher Matt Pagnozzi (Central Arizona College, 2002—Tom, uncle).
A legitimate five-tool player, Gaedele will roam the "Duck Pond's" outfield next summer.