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Size Doesn't Matter: The Top 10 "Smallest" in MLB History

Jeffrey BeckmannCorrespondent IJuly 21, 2011

Size Doesn't Matter: The Top 10 "Smallest" in MLB History

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    Without first consulting your wife, girlfriend or significant other, stand in front of a mirror and say out loud, "Size doesn't matter."

    Feel better? Good.

    In the history of MLB, we've seen many highs and lows, ups and downs, and biggest and smallest. Today, we are going to celebrate some of the smallest.

    Here are the Top 10 "Smallest" in MLB History.  

Shortest Player to Play in an MLB Game

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    Eddie Gaedel stood at a mere 3'7" tall and weighed only 65 pounds. No other player in MLB history comes even close to those marks.

    On August 19, 1951 the St. Louis Browns sent Gaedel to the batter's box in a publicity stunt during the second game of a doubleheader. Gaedel had a good eye, taking a four-pitch walk before trotting down to first base. 

    Gaedel's jersey came with the number "1/8" on the back, and it's currently on display at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Shortest Game Ever Played

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    Game: 51 minutes, New York Giants/Philadelphia Athletics, September 28, 1919

    Doubleheader: 127 minutes, New York Yankees/St. Louis Browns, September 26, 1926

    Apparently back in the day the game wasn't scheduled around TV commercials and visits to the mound, and there obviously wasn't a five minute break between each inning.

    The 51 minute game seems so unfathomable by today's standards that it's almost hard to believe. The Giants won that game 6-1, so it's not like there wasn't any scoring, either.

    In 1984, the Chicago White Sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers after 25 innings in a game that lasted more than eight hours. The Giants and Athletics could have played nine times over that span! 

Smallest Stats of Hall of Fame Pitchers

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    Wins: 114, Rollie Fingers  

    Losses: 83, Dizzy Dean (pictured)

    Strikeouts: 920, Addie Joss

    Rollie Fingers made only 37 starts during his MLB career, although he still managed to win 10-plus games four times. He also retired with 341 saves.

    Dizzy Dean is the last MLB player to win 30 games in a season. Dean won only 150 games during his career, which isn't bad considering he retired at the age of 31.

    It's hard to argue against Addie Joss being the best contact pitcher to ever play the game. Along with his 920 strikeouts, Joss also has the fewest walks among Hall of Fame pitchers with 364. Not bad for a player who pitched more than 2,300 innings.  

     


Smallest Stats Hall of Fame Hitter

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    Batting Average: .253, Ray Schalk

    Home Runs: 11, Ray Schalk

    RBI: 594, Ray Schalk

    The message here? Ray Schalk should probably not be in the Hall of Fame.

    Schalk was a solid defensive catcher and at one point he even held the record for stolen bases in a single season by a catcher. But nothing about his career screams "Hall of Fame" worthy.

    Schalk also happens to be a member of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox, although he was not one of the eight players who were given lifetime bans from MLB.

     


Shortest Fence in Stadium History

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    MLB History: 258 feet in right field, Polo Grounds (pictured)

    Current: 302 feet in right field, Fenway Park

    I did see some stories of an old stadium (either MLB or Negro Leagues) in Chicago where the fence was 180 feet down the left field line, but I couldn't find any solid evidence to back it up.

    Polo Grounds is one of the most legendary stadiums in sports history. It's hard to believe that the New York Mets played their first two seasons there in 1962-63.

    As for Fenway, the Green Monster makes left field seem a lot bigger than it really is and its right field is the shortest in all of baseball.  

Shortest Home Run Ever Hit

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    Playing for a minor league team called the Minnesota Millers back in 1900, Andy Oyler hit the shortest home run in the history of the entire world.

    The home run traveled only 24 inches—that's right, two feet! 

    On a rainy day in Minnesota, Oyler made solid contact and took off to first base. As he was running he noticed that he was the only person who knew where the ball had gone.

    This wasn't a ball that was hit so high and hard that the outfielder couldn't catch it in the rain—rather the opposite. The ball got lost—buried in the mud two-feet from home plate—and Oyler circled the bases for a home run.

    You can read about the famous home run here.

Smallest Single Season and Career ERA

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    Single Season: 0.96, Dutch Leonard (1914)

    Single Season (Live-Ball Era): 1.12, Bob Gibson (1968) (pictured) 

    Career: 1.82, Ed Walsh (1904-17)

    Career (Live-Ball Era): 2.22, Mariano Rivera (1995 - Active)

    Smallest ERA not in Hall of Fame: 2.38, Eddie Cicotte (1905-1920)

    Ed Walsh is probably the least known player on this list, but his 1.82 career ERA is nothing short of remarkable. He spent 13 seasons with the Chicago White Sox while ending his career with a one-year stint playing for the Boston Braves.

    Although Mariano Rivera is a reliever, the fact that he's pitched nearly 1,200 innings in his career makes him worthy of mention.

    Bob Gibson put together one of the greatest pitching seasons in MLB history in 1968, tossing 13 shutouts while compiling a 258 ERA+.

    Eddie Cicotte was a part of the 1919 Chicago Black Sox squad who threw the World Series, otherwise he would undoubtedly be a Hall of Famer.

Smallest Winning Percentage in Team History

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    Tampa Bay Rays: .443, 973-1225

    San Diego Padres: .463, 3,140-3,635

    Seattle Mariners: .468, 2,565-2,914

    Is anyone really surprised? 

    The Tampa Bay Rays are the newest team (along with the Arizona Diamondbacks, .493) in MLB, and with the way they have played the past few seasons they will soon be passing the San Diego Padres.

    Fourth on the list are the Philadelphia Phillies with a .472 historical winning percentage and 9,195-10,268 overall record, proving that longevity doesn't necessarily mean success.

Smallest Attendance for a Game and Season

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    Game: 23 people, Shibe Park in Philadelphia, 1916 (pictured)

    Season: 899 total people, Cleveland Spiders, 1899

    Modern Day: 3,094 people, Montreal Expos, August 21, 2002

    To be fair, baseball wasn't America's Pastime back in the late 1800s and early 1900s, so the game's popularity hadn't really taken off yet.

    The most embarrassing of all of these is the Montreal Expos in 2002. Does anyone wonder why the franchise is now in Washington?

    One more fact: In 2003, the New York Yankees had a home crowd of only 8,848 people versus the Blue Jays, although it happened to be a make-up game.  

Smallest Bat Used During Games

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    As my crazy biology teacher told my entire class in high school, "It's not the pen, it's the penmanship." 

    Tony Gwynn proved that size doesn't matter. His 31 inch bat is the smallest ever used in MLB history. For comparison purposes, even Babe Ruth used a bat that was 36 inches long.

    Gwynn didn't generate a lot of power with his tiny bat (no pun intended), hitting only 135 career home runs. Yet, he still got the job done by smacking 3,141 career hits.

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