On The Farm at Lake Elsinore
~~with Kyle Gaedele, May 10, 2013~~
In 2001, ESPN Baseball did a story titled, “Short on size, long on history.” It tells the story of Eddie Gaedel … the shortest (3’ 7”) and lightest (65 lbs) player to ever appear in a major league game. He appeared for the St. Louis Browns wearing the number 1/8 on his jersey. Pitcher Bob Cain of the Detroit Tigers walked him on four pitches. Gaedel was then replaced by a pinch-runner.
Jump forward to June 12, 2011 … we were attending a Padres Season Ticket Holder event where Jed Hoyer and Tom Garfinkel were detailing the results of the draft. Jed Hoyer announced that the Padres had drafted Kyle Gaedele – the great-nephew of Eddie Gaedel. He was selected by the San Diego Padres in the sixth round of the First-Year Player Draft out of Valparaisao University. Gaedele ranks third in school history with 148 runs scored, 12 triples, and 48 stolen bases; ranks fifth with 48 doubles and 86 walks; and seventh with 121 RBIs. As a freshman, he was named to the conference’s All-Newcomer team. Jed believed he would “develop into a power hitter” as he progressed in the minor leagues and he also loved his speed. Hoyer believed the Padres landed a gem with Kyle.
My mind raced back to the story of Eddie Gaedel that I had read as a kid in a book called Strange But True Baseball Stories. I realized we had just tapped into a piece of baseball history.
We requested and were granted a media credential for Lake Elsinore Storm on May 10, 2013. By 4:00 PM, we were on the field watching batting practice. It was there that I noticed Kyle was taking BP and smashing line drive after line drive to the outfield. I waited near the dugout and as he came out of the batting cage, I asked him for a quick interview. He said he would do one after batting practice.
I asked Kyle who his favorite players or players are in baseball. Kyle said, “I am going to go from when I was growing up, I was a big Sox fan and I went to a lot of White Sox games and I’ll have to say ‘The Big Hurt’ Frank Thomas. My parents would tell me stories every time he came up I would get scared because of the fireworks, he would hit a lot of home runs. I liked watching him hit, he was a big guy he would hit for average, hit for power and I got to meet him when I was little, which adds some value to it.” When I asked about his timeline with the organization he said, “it’s up to the organization” and that I just “try to go out and get better every day and if they see me in their plans, I am thankful for that.”
During my research I discovered that the family still has the bat that Eddie used during his famous plate appearance. What a great piece of history and I’m glad it has stayed in the family, Thank you Kyle for your time and we hope to see you smashing balls all over Petco Park.
Here are some photos from the May 10 game of Kyle in action:
We enjoyed watching the game against the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers affiliate). We hadn’t expected such a crowd – especially so many Dodger fans – but then again, we originally didn’t know that Zach Greinke would be throwing his first rehab start following his broken collar bone … ironically received at Petco Park during a brawl following a HBP to Carlos Quentin! Here are a few pictures of Greinke pitching (looked pretty healed – very quickly!):
Interview & Story by Wayne McBrayer, TheCasualFan
Research, Editing & Photography by Rebecca Herman, TheBaseballPHD