Friday, December 26, 2008
Picture Of The Day--Short But Good
In The History of Major League Baseball, less than 70 players have produced in the Big Leagues while standing 5'5'' or less in height. Anyone who has followed The Great Game knows the story of Eddie Gaedel--the 3'7" Dwarf that St. Louis Browns Owner Bill Veeck signed and sent to the plate in a publicity stunt on August 19, 1951 in the second game of a doubleheader against The Detroit Tigers.
But only baseball aficionados probably remember Albie Pearson. Standing a mere 5'5" in height, this one-time career Minor Leaguer was traded from The Boston Red Sox to The Washington Senators, along with Norm Zauchin, for Pete Runnels in January of 1958 (in yet another case of The Senators trading away their best players in a salary dump). Albie's diminutive stature caught everyone's attention. So did the very fact that Albe Pearson could actually play the game--and well. He used his height and speed to his advantage--getting on base with walks and slap hits--while fielding a very decent centerfield.
#6 on your Old Griffith Stadium Scorecard (sponsored by Briggs Hots Dogs--among many others) only weighed 141 pounds during his Freshman Season of Major League Baseball. Yet Pearson played so well, he was rewarded The 1958 Rookie Of The Year Award by The American League. Then, after a slow 1959 start to the baseball season, The Senators traded him to The Baltimore Orioles for Lenny Green--another lefthanded hitting outfielder.
Struggling as an Oriole while playing in Baltimore, Albie would eventually be selected by The Los Angeles Angels (not the "Of Anaheim" version) in the VERY FIRST EXPANSION DRAFT ever held by Major League Baseball--in December, 1960. After The Original Senators moved to Minnesota--The American League expanded from eight to 10 teams by adding The New Washington Senators and The Los Angeles Angels in 1961. Lo and behold, Pearson became a star in Hollywood during the early years of The Angels. Where else? It's almost a Story Book Tale!! And in 1963, then Number 28 in your scorecard was named an All-Star and finished the season ranked in the MVP Voting.
Although Albie would leave the game in 1966 at the young age of 31, Pearson retired knowing he may well have been short in stature, but he stood tall on The Major League Diamond. He was a pretty good ballplayer. And at least for a while, fans in Washington, DC enjoyed Albie Pearson--as A Washington Senator.
PS--What's great about the above picture is first--look how both the umpire and catcher are crouching but still tower over Pearson. And second--doesn't Albie's bat look like it's almost as tall as he is? Terrific!!
PSS--As a side note--in 2007, Pete Runnels was named #43 on The All-Time Boston Red Sox Players List, just after Hall of Famer Dennis Eckersley and ahead of Reggie Smith, Trot Nixon, Rick Burleson and Johnny Damon. Runnels was a really good and versatile team player himself--three times The American League Batting Champion. All three hitting championships wearing a Boston Uniform.
Photo by George Silk, Copyright of Time, Inc.