In the postwar boom years after World War II, St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck, a showman who enjoyed staging publicity stunts, found 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel through a booking agency and signed him. The rest is baseball legend.

Gaedel gained national recognition in the second game of doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers on Aug. 19, 1951. He had been added to the team roster and put in a uniform with the number "18" on the back. Weighing 60 pounds, he became the shortest player in the history of the major leagues. Gaedel made a single plate appearance and was walked with four consecutive balls before being replaced by a pinch runner.

When Gaedel was sent to bat in the bottom of the first as a pinch hitter, umpire Ed Hurley called for Browns manager Zack Taylor, who had discussed the promotional event (for Falstaff Beer) with Veeck beforehand. They had a copy of Gaedel’s contract on hand, along with a copy of the Browns' active roster, which had room for Gaedel's addition. The contract had been filed late in the day on Friday, Aug. 17. Veeck knew it would not be scrutinized by the league office until Monday, Aug. 20.

Safe to say that the record for the shortest MLB player will never be broken.

Who is the shortest player in the 2023 MLB season?

Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros and Tony Kemp of the Oakland Athletics both stand 5-foot-6 and share the honor of being the shortest players in the major leagues this season. They will play against each other six times from May 19 to May 28 when the A’s and Astros have a pair of three-game series.

Who is the shortest MLB player ever?

After Gaedel, the next “tallest” player stood 22 inches taller. He was Kansas City shortstop Freddie Patek, who played for the Royals for 14 season and remains beloved in Kansas City.

Ranking the Top 10 Shortest players in MLB History

  1. Bobby Shantz, 5-foot-6

Position: Pitcher
Years Active: 16
Teams: Philadelphia Athletics, Kansas City Athletics, New York Yankees, Pittsburgh Pirates, Houston Astros, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies

Shantz pitched well for over a decade and a half in what became a journeyman career, compiling a record of 119-99 to go with over 1,000 strikeouts (1,072) against 643 walks.

  1. Joe Morgan, 5-foot-9

Position: Second base
Years Active: 22
Teams: Houston Astros, Cincinnati Reds, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Oakland A’s

A member of the legendary Reds teams of the 1970s, Morgan was known for flapping his back elbow while at the plate --  a trick he used to remind himself to keep his elbow up when hitting. He was a 10-time All-Star and a five-time Gold Glover who had a career on-base average of .392.

  1. Billy Hamilton, 5-foot-6

Position: Outfielder
Years Active: 14
Teams: Kansas City Cowboys, Philadelphia Phillies, Boston Beaneaters

Nicknamed “Sliding Billy”, Hamilton still owns the record for most runs scored in a single season with 198 in 1894 -- the same year he batted over .400. He’s also third in career stolen bases with 914, a spot the Hall of Famer has clung to for more than 120 years. He had 111 SBs in both 1889 and 1891.

  1. Joe Sewell, 5-foot-6

Positions: Shortstop and third base
Years Active: 14
Teams: Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees

Sewell owns the second-lowest career strikeout rate in MLB history along with the single-season record for fewest whiffs, because he struck out only three times in the whole 1932 season.

  1. Phil Rizzuto. 5-foot-6

Position: Shortstop
Years Active: 13
Team: New York Yankees

Nicknamed “Scooter,” Rizzuto was a defensive wizard at shortstop before going on to become a longtime Yankees broadcaster prior to the John Sterling era. Rizzuto was an anchor for a Yankees team that won seven world championships during his 13 years. His career was interrupted by a three-year stint in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

  1. Hack Wilson, 5-foot-6

Position: Left field
Years Active: 12
Teams: New York Giants, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, Philadelphia Athletics

Although he weighed around 190 pounds, Wilson was an incredible power hitter throughout his 12-year career. During the 1930 season, he hit a heretofore unheard of 56 homers -- a National League record that stood for nearly 70 years -- and 191 RBIs.

  1. Rabbit Maranville, 5-foot-5

Positions: Shortstop and second base
Years Active: 23
Teams: Boston Braves, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, Brooklyn Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals

A terrific defender and notorious class clown, Maranville carved out an astounding 23-year career in the big leagues — a mark that would stand until Pete Rose came along some 50 years later. One of the shortest shortstops to ever play the game, Rabbit piled up over 2,600 career hits, 28 home runs, a MVP runner-up year and even a World Series win in his second season.

  1. Freddie Patek, 5-foot-4

Position: Shortstop
Years Active: 14
Teams: Pittsburgh Pirates, Kansas City Royals, California Angels

He spent 14 seasons in the majors from 1968 to 1981 and finished his career with 385 stolen bases and 1,340 hits. He was named an All-Star on three occasions and has a place in the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.

  1. “Wee” Willie Keeler, 5-foot-4

Position: Right field
Years Active: 19
Teams: New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees

Willie Keeler is not only the highest-ranked Hall of Fame player on this list, 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 and has the highest career at bats-per-strikeout ratio in MLB history. He whiffed just 136 times in 9,319 career plate appearances.

  1. Jose Altuve, 5-foot-6

Position: Second base
Years Active: 12
Team: Houston Astros

The Houston second baseman has been able to capitalize on his small frame to shrink the strike zone and has posted a career batting average of .307. A two-time World Series champion, Altuve is the longest-tenured current member of the team and the only one to have been with the Astros since they played in the National League.

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