Friday, September 30, 2016

Short story

There was some sort of dust-up between Marcus Stroman and the Blue Jays and the Yankees this week. I didn't really pay attention. I try not to watch any games involving the Yankees if I can help it. And, I am so over the "did you hear what he/she just said" storylines that plague our society these days.

From the sports world to the celebrity world to the political world, I no longer care what someone said or who was offended. Show me what people are doing (hopefully something positive), and then it is a newsworthy story to me. Other than that, it's just babble. (Except if a pitcher screams "don't look at me" for no reason. That's just funny).

So apparently Stroman yelled stuff and someone took offense. I know very little about Stroman, but my guess is that he is an animated, vocal sort, and that it is probably because he is a 5-foot-8 pitcher who constantly has had to prove himself to doubters throughout his baseball career. In fact, it's right there in his Twitter bio:

"Doing everything they said I couldn't."

Yeah, it's there all right. He's met with a ton of resistance on his way up. Because he's 5-8 and a pitcher.

The prejudice against short pitchers goes back decades. The Dodgers rejected Whitey Ford because he was 5-10. Pedro Martinez and Tim Lincecum were treated as freaks of nature because they were 5-11. 5-11! The average white male is 5-10! There have been several recent studies refuting the belief that shorter pitchers are less capable or more fragile. But still the perception remains that if you're under 6-feet (particularly if you're not left-handed) then you can't pitch in the majors.

I've been under 6-feet all my life. In fact, I'm even shorter than Marcus Stroman. And although I never had any significant athletic talent, I've dealt with some of the stuff Stroman no doubt went through. Imagine being 12 years old when Randy Newman's "Short People" hit the charts. It's hard to find the satire in that song when you're entering junior high.

I've heard it all. It gets easier as you get older and now I hardly think about it, except when someone is pointing out how short some major leaguer is (kind of like I'm doing now).

I decided to pay tribute to some of the more notable short major leaguers with an All-Short Star team. All of these guys are 5-9 or shorter and you've heard of all of them. By the way, I'm already making Stroman my pitcher on this team even though he isn't quite an All-Star. He's been through enough.

Catcher: Yogi Berra, 5-9

Only made the Hall of Fame and launched a thousand quotations. Other notable: Ivan Rodriguez (5-9).

First base: Joe Judge, 5-8

I am delighted to have this card. Judge was the star first baseman for the champion Washington Senators teams of the 1920s. Out of all the positions in baseball, first base is the spot where I could see tall players would hold a significant advantage. Kudos to the Senators, although I realize it was a different time. Other notable: George Burns (5-7).

Second base: Joe Morgan, 5-7

I know some of you newbies expected a card of Jose Altuve. But Morgan is from my era. So I split the difference and got Morgan in an Astros uniform.

Normally when I do these all-star teams, second base is the toughest position to fill. Not with this team. It is overflowing with little guys. Other notables: Altuve (5-6), Eddie Collins (5-9), Dustin Pedroia (5-9).

Shortstop: Freddie Patek, 5-5

When I was a kid, "the short guy in baseball," which I believe is Altuve now, was Freddie Patek. As mini adults, we couldn't get enough of Patek. He was practically one of us! There are more-famous short guys who played shortstop, but Patek is the first player I think of when short players are mentioned. Other notables: Jimmy Rollins (5-7), Luis Aparicio (5-9), Joe Tinker (5-9), Omar Vizquel (5-9), Phil Rizzuto (5-6), Dave Bancroft (5-9), Bobby Wallace (5-8).

Third Base: Heinie Groh, 5-8

The card says "outfielder," but that's an error. Groh was strictly an infielder, mainly at third base and second. Another Hall of Famer, I am fascinated by his famed "bottle bat" and what would happen if a player today came to the plate with a bottle bat. Other notables: Joe Sewell (5-6), Larry Gardner (5-6), Tommy Leach (5-6).

Left field: Tim Raines, 5-8.

He will be in the Hall of Fame someday. Nobody cares about height when you've had that kind of career.

Center field: Kirby Puckett, 5-8.

For a 5-8 guy, he could get up there.

Right field: Enos Slaughter, 5-9.

Every photo of Slaughter I've seen, he looks like he wrestled alligators and hauled railroad ties in the offseason. I was surprised to learn he was 5-9.

Other outfield notables: Mel Ott (5-9), Paul Waner (5-8), Sam Rice (5-9), Tony Phillips (5-9), Earl Averill (5-9), Albie Pearson (5-5), Jimmy Sheckard (5-9).

There are plenty of other short stories in baseball. Eddie Gaedel, of course. Harry Chappas. Tim Collins. Other short pitchers include Fred Norman (5-7) and Candy Cummings (5-9), credited for inventing the curveball.

I tried to keep the team to all-stars, but I'm sure I missed some.

The fact is -- speaking of "short" -- I am short on time today. So I overcompensated with a long post. That's what us short guys do. Or we yell stuff on the mound to annoy you.


  1. I met Tim Raines a couple of times. Topps called him "Rock" because he was all muscle. Still was, as of a few years ago. Didn't seem that short to me. I asked him if he liked being called "Rock" on his cards and he said yes. I got Stroman's autograph when he was in the minors. He does appear as short as he's listed. Not that friendly, either. Not surprised to see him getting into a fight or two on the field.

    1. That's a better explanation than the one I had heard - which had to do with cocaine. Either way Raines should be a HOF and I hope he gets in this Jan.

  2. As for this all-star team of vertically-challenged stars, if this were an actual 25-man roster I think they'd win a lot of games. Lots of HOFers here, including the corner IF positions, which is surprising. I was also a bit surprised you didn't go with Rizzuto at shortstop, but now I know why (and you don't sound like much of a Yankees guy - cant blame you!)

    It looks like the AL MVP is either going to be Altuve or Mookie Betts. Pretty rare for a player under 5'10" to win a league MVP; I can only think of Berra, Morgan, and Dustin Pedroia (there might be a few more though.)

  3. Sparky Anderson (5-9) could be your manager.

  4. Enos Slaughter was 5-9??? I never would've guessed.

    As someone who's Stroman/Raines/Puckett height, I heartily endorse this post.

  5. Fun post, Greg. I'll chime in to say that as someone who has watched both Morgan and Altuve up close I'd go with Jose. Watching him play is worth the price of the ticket. And this is from a guy who is usually a "Things were better in my day and get the hell off my lawn!" type.

  6. As always your posts never come up "Short".

  7. I knew Altuve, Puckett, and Morgan were shorter than most of their peers, but I had no clue about the other guys. Great list of players. Power to the vertically challenged! As a cardmember... I actually created a Little Man PC a few years back:

    And more recently... I started PC'ing Altuve.