Eddie went back to Chicago with instructions to return on Saturday, August 18, the day before the game. In the meantime, there were details to be attended to. First of all, there was the question of a uniform. No problem. Bill DeWitt Jr., the seven-year old son of our vice-president, had a little Browns' uniform hanging in the locker room. Rudie stole it and sent it out to get the number 1/8 sewed on the back. Scorecards are traditionally printed up on the morning of the game, so listing him would be no problem at all.
Just for the heck of it, I took out a $1,000,000 life insurance policy to protect us in case of sudden death, sudden growth or any other pernicious act of nature. Somehow no opportunity to tell anybody about that policy ever came up, no great loss since the whole thing cost me about a buck and a half.
We were hiring Eddie for one day at $100, the minimum AGVA scale for a midget act. Still, if he was going to play in an official game he had to be signed to a standard player's contract, with a salary set on an annual basis and a guaranteed 30-day payment upon termination. That was no real problem, either. We computed the salary on the basis of $100 a game and typed in an additional clause in which Eddie agreed to waive the 30-day notice.
I must admit that by the time Eddie came back to St. Louis we were playing the cloak-and-dagger stuff a bit strong. Eddie went directly to a hotel suite we had hired for him about ten blocks from the park. Instead of bringing the contract to his room, Bob Fishel set up a meeting on a street corner a block or two from the hotel. Bob drove up in his old Packard and Eddie slid into the front seat, scribbled his signature on two contracts and jumped back out. One of the contracts was mailed to league headquarters on Saturday night, which meant that it would not be delivered until Monday morning. The other contract was given to Zack Taylor, in case our promising rookie was challenged by the umpires. The morning of the game, I wired headquarters that we were putting player Edward Gaedel on our active list.
On Sunday morning, we smuggled Eddie up to the office for further instruction on the fine art of crouching. That was a little dangerous. I have always taken the doors off my office and encouraged people to walk right in to see me. We posted a lookout and from time to time either Mary Frances or Bob or Rudie would have to hustle Eddie out to the farm-system offices in the back. Always they'd come back with the same story. As soon as Eddie got out of my sight he'd turn tiger and start swinging his little bat. "He's going to foul it up," they all told me. "If you saw him back there you'd know he's going to swing."
"Don't worry," I'd tell them, worrying furiously. "I've got the situation well in hand."
Don't worry. . . . Just as I was leaving the office to circulate among the customers as they arrived at the park, Eddie asked me, "Bill . . . ? How tall was Wee Willie Keeler?"
Oh, boy. . . .
"Eddie," I said, "I've got your life insured for a million dollars. I've got a gun stashed up on the roof. But don't you let any of that bother you. You just crouch over like you've been doing and take four pitches, huh?"
As I was going out the door, I turned back one final time. "Wee Willie Keeler," I told him, "was six-feet-five."
Copyright notice: Excerpted from pages 11-23 of Veeck -- As In Wreck: The Autobiography of Bill Veeck, published by the University of Chicago Press. ©1962 by Mary Frances Veeck and Edward Linn. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.