A daily accumulation of history and present as I follow the 2011 year through the baseball season and reflect on the glories and disappointments of the greatest game on Earth.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Frank Saucier

Number one / eighth came to the plate for his only at bat ever on August 19, 1951. As his was the home team, outfielder Frank Saucier, who was a replacement for the usual outfielder, was removed for a little person, a kind of dubious honor in and of itself, but for the sake of the game that Veeck was running (a minor league atmosphere in a major league town), that was ok.
As for Gaedel, he stood 3 foot 7 and he was part of Bill Veeck's plan to give Falstaff Brewery a 50th birthday present that they would never forget. To be honest, nobody ever forgot it. It was Bill Veeck's coup de grace as he moved into a new level of showmanship with his greatest contributions of showmanship ever, which is something to be said because he also gave us:
1: playing Minnie Minoso in the 70s and 80s so he could play in 5 decades. As the White Sox frontman, this seemed to be a nice touch for one of their great players in history and it made up for those stupid shorts that they wore.
2: the spirit of 76 parade that he staged where he was the peg legged fifer. Veeck had lost his leg after being in the Marines during World War 2. This brought a nice little patriotic touch to the game that he loved so much.
3: Harry Caray's Take Me Out to the Ballgame rendition.
4: The ivy in Wrigley Field and the scoreboard that he built up for the team that his father got to be in charge of because he knew how to write a newspaper column complaining about how things weren't be done well.
5: The desire to have lights in Wrigley, which was so rejected that the team's ownership wouldn't allow lights to go up first and had them go up last. Veeck proved that you can't win them all, but you can at least try.
6: Disco Demolition Night. Another great idea, which would work well with Lady Gaga CDs (that new disc is so abysmal that it makes the last one seem tolerable in comparison - guess that's why she gave it away for 99 cents at Amazon Dot Com on the first day it was released). However, the riots and chaos caused the White Sox to forfeit the game, but yeah... it's baseball history.
7: Alien appearance at the ballpark, which was another Eddie Gaedel appearance for Veeck.
8. In addition, Veeck brought Larry Doby and Satchel Paige to the big leagues and proved that he was not only humorous, but a true American looking out for others. Granted, his speech for Gaedel to tell baseball management that he was looking out for the little guy wasn't the political grandstanding he wanted it to be (rather a middle finger to baseball's stodginess), but nevertheless, it was a fitting end to a 4-pitch at bat that saw Bobby Cain laughing at the strike zone that he couldn't hit. Nobody ever had to fire shots at Gaedel for trying to swing at pitches with his toy bat. And in the end, it may not have been a naked lady jumping out of that birthday cake, but it was a memorable birthday celebration on that day.
And all in all, Veeck was a great bit of Americana. I'm currently reading his Veeck as in Wreck book, which is a nice way to spend a rainy day on vacation without a thought for work I should be doing since there really isn't much to do other than think about the Vince McMahon / Mark Cuban (in a blender) of his day and just enjoy, enjoy, enjoy.

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