The Shortest Players in Baseball History

Baseball is one of those sports where you want to try to be around six feet tall as you want to generate power while also not giving too big of a strike zone. However, there have been plenty of short players that made their way to the MLB with the hopes of taking walks and stealing bases.

Then, there were a few players that were really short to the point where they became famous due to their small statures. Here’s a look at the five players to reach the MLB standing at 5’3” or shorter:

5. Pompeyo Davalillo

Also known as Yo-Yo, Pompeyo Davalillo came from Venezuela, which made him one of the first from the country to join Major League Baseball. Davalillo spent much of his time playing in the Minor Leagues due to the fact that he didn’t like flying on airplanes while also getting injured multiple times. Still, Davalillo was able to get at least a little bit of time in the MLB.

Standing at 5’3”, Davalillo appeared in just 19 games, all during the 1953 season with the Washington Senators. During that time, he collected 17 hits in his 64 plate appearances. He was also able to steal one base and knock in a pair of runs. Like everyone else on the list, Davalillo failed to hit a home run during his Major League career.

4. Stubby Magner

When you’re short and played baseball at the turn of the century, you’re bound to have a matching nickname. Born as Edmund Magner in Kalamazoo, Michigan in 1888, Magner earned the nickname Stubby due to his 5’3” frame. Magner attended Cornell and turned his attention to professional baseball afterward. 

In 1911, Magner made his Major League debut with the New York Highlanders (now the Yankees). It would be Magner’s only season in the MLB as he had 41 plate appearances. He collected seven hits and four walks en route to a .212 career batting average. Instead of sticking around baseball, Magner returned to Cornell where he coached hockey.

3. Bob Emmerich

Another member of the 5’3” members of the list, Bob Emmerich was a New York City native that was born in the 1800s. Emmerich took many years to reach the MLB as it wasn’t until 1923 he finally made his debut at the age of 32. Emmerich was a member of the Boston Braves during all 13 games of his Major League career.

During that time, Emmerich made 27 plate appearances but collected just two hits and two walks. He was also able to steal one base, though it wouldn’t be enough to keep him on an MLB roster. Emmerich lived until 1948 after his MLB season ended, passing away at the age of 57.

2. Jess Cortazzo

While he’s another 5’3” player on the list, Jess Cortazzo didn’t last as long as the others that have been mentioned already. A native of Wilmerding, Pennsylvania, Cortazzo was just 18 years old when he made his Major League debut in 1923. He did so with the Chicago White Sox, and his debut was his only MLB game to boot.

Cortazzo, as the youngest player in the league at the time, had just one at-bat and didn’t reach base. It was interesting to see that he never got another chance since he was so young, making it so that he had the absolute minimum time that you can get while being in the Major Leagues. Cortazzo lived until 1963, returning to Pennsylvania after his brief MLB stint.

1. Eddie Gaedel

The rest of the list is comprised of players who were the only 5’3” members in league history, but Eddie Gaedel stands well below the rest of the list. Gaedel was just 60 pounds and was 3’7” when he was working on airplanes with the United States Army before turning his attention to performing arts.

St. Louis Browns owner Bill Beeck discovered Gaedel’s showmanship and signed him to play a game with the team to drive up ticket sales. Gaedel, like Cortazzo, had just one plate appearance but was able to reach base. On four straight pitches, Gaedel drew a walk and was pulled for a pinch runner. The next day, American League president Will Harridge voided Gaedel’s contract and his plate appearance was temporarily lifted from the MLB record books.

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