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Junior Thompson

Eddie Gaedel


We continue to look at major league players that were born in Illinois and today is their Birthday.



Lee Dunham



He was born Leland Huffield Dunham in Atlanta, Il on June 9, 1902. He attended college at both the University of Illinois in Champaign and Illinois Wesleyan College in Bloomington, Il. After college he began playing professional baseball in 1925. He was assigned to the Binghamton Triplets which played in the New York-Pennsylvania League and led the team with a .334 batting average.The following season he was called up to the major leagues with the Philadelphia Phillies and made his debut on April 17, 1926 as a pinch hitter. He went 1-for-1 with an RBI for the game. He was a first baseman and played in five games and was sent down to the Virginia League where he played for the Wilson Bugs. He batted .300 for them that season. He never made it back to the major leagues but in his career in the minors he had 1,024 hits in 910 games with a .310 batting average.

Dunham died in 1961, in Atlanta, Illinois, at the age of 58.




Charlie Kavanaugh


Charles Hugh “Charlie” Kavanaugh was born in Chicago on June 9, 1891. He went directly to the major leagues and never played in the minors. In 1914, he played in six games for the Chicago White Sox and got one hit, struck out twice in six plate appearances. He never played defense as he was strictly used as a pinch hitter. He made his last appearance at the plate n June 28, 1914. Kavanaugh worked for Cook County treasurer after his playing days were over. He died on September 6, 1973.





Jason Anderson


AndersonJason   Born in Danville, Il. on June 9, 1979, Jason Anderson is a former major league pitcher and current head baseball coach at Eastern Illinois University. In high school he was an all-stater at Danville High School and put together a 14-1 record with six consecutive shutouts. He received a scholarship to play baseball at the University of Illinois where he earned All-American status and Academic All-American along with Newcomer of the Year in 1998. In 2000, he was named Big Ten pitcher of the year. He was drafted in the 2000 Amateur Draft by the New York Yankees and eventually played minor league baseball for the Staten Island Yankees where he became the first from the team to get promoted to the New York Yankees. He also had a day proclaimed for him and had his number was retired by Staten Island.

He made 22 appearances for the Yankees and received one win before he was traded across town to the New York Mets. He was designated for assignment and claimed by the Cleveland Indians where he pitched one inning for them as he allowed five runs. He went back to the Yankees in 2005, then the Padres in 2006 and was signed by the Cubs to a minor league contract.from there he went to the Phillies. He spent the next several seasons in the minor leagues and retired on July 19, 2011.

He became pitching coach for the Eastern Illinois University Panthers and after three seasons was promoted to head coach.




Illinois “Boys of Summer” – Eddie Gaedel – Shortest Player in MLB History


Eddie Gaedel- Born June 8, 1925 in Chicago, Il. If you know baseball, then you have heard the story of Bill Veeck hiring a midget, Eddie Gaedel, to be a pinch hitter for his team. It all happened on August 19, 1951 as the St. Louis Browns were playing a doubleheader and it as the 50th anniversary of Falstaff beer. Veeck had promised a “variety of surprises” for Falstaff and all in attendance. As the first game ended the fans and others were disappointed with what they had watched for entertainment. Little did they know, nor did Veeck tell them, the biggest surprise was yet to come.

How did it happen?

Browns owner Bill Veeck loved to put on a show. He turned to a booking agency to help him find the right midget to put into the game. Gaedel was 3 foot 7 inches and weighed 65 pounds that produced a strike zone of one and a half inches when he crouched at the plate. Gaedel was a professional performer with the American Guild of Variety Artists and knew how to give the fans a show. The combination of Veeck and Gaedel had the recipe for a great performance.

Prior to this day, Gaedel was to portray “Mercury Man” for Mercury Records by wearing a winged hat that looked like their logo. Also, he worked during World War II as a riveter that would crawl into the wings of airplanes and work to repair team.  Gaedel was secretly signed(it happened after the league offices were closed for the weekend) by the St. Louis Browns and put in uniform (with the number “1/8″ on the back). The uniform was that of current St. Louis Cardinals managing partner and chairman William DeWitt, Jr. who was a 9 year old batboy for the Browns at the time. Gaedel came out of a papier-mache cake between games of a doubleheader at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis to celebrate the American League’s 50th anniversary

In the first inning in the second game he came to pinch hit for leadoff batter Frank Saucier. The umpire, Ed Hurley,  wouldn’t allow the contest to go forward until he saw a contract had been signed. Once he was assured he allowed the game to continue. Meanwhile, the fan and players on the field were laughing uncontrollably see a 3’7” batter in the box. Gaedel had orders to not swing at a pitch or his contract would be void. Veeck told him he had taken out a $1 million life insurance policy on him and that someone was poised on the roof with a rifle to shoot him if he swung at a pitch (that part hasn’t been decided if it is fact or fiction).

After all the roaring died down it was game time and pitcher Bob Cain was laughing at  the absurdity of the situation and the catcher, Bob Swift, got down on his knees with a target and instructed the pitcher to keep them low. He tried to throw strikes on the first two pitches but couldn’t and then proceeded to lob two more in for ball four. Gaedel, the showman,  took his base (stopping twice during his trot to bow to the crowd) and was replaced by pinch-runner Jim Delsing. The 18,369 fans gave Gaedel a standing ovation.

Since that game, it is now a rule that all contracts have to have approval by the commissioners office before they can participate in a game.

On June 18, 1961, the unemployed Gaedel, who had just turned 36, was at a bowling alley in Chicago, his birthplace and hometown. Gaedel was followed home and beaten. His mother discovered Eddie lying dead in his bed. He had bruises about his knees and on the left side of his face. A coroner’s inquest determined that he also had suffered a heart attack. Bob Cain was the only Major League Baseball figure to attend the funeral. Gaedel was interred at Saint Mary Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum in Cook County, Illinois (plot: section G, gravestone number X-363B).
Gaedel’s autograph sells for more that Babe Ruth’s.

Eddie Gaedel: Shortest player in Major League Baseball history



This is a continuation of our research into major league players born in Illinois. Enjoy!


Illinois “Boys of Summer” – Eugene “Junior” Thompson- Born in Latham













I am currently doing profiles on major league baseball players that were born in Illinois. I am attempting to highlight them on their birth date.


“Junior” Thompson was born Eugene Earl Thompson in Latham, Illinois on June 7, 1917. He was a right handed pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds.  BOXSCORE  Thompson made his major-league debut on April 26, 1939, at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. It was the 8th inning and he had to face two future Hall of Famers and one All Star . He got Joe Medwick, the cleanup hitter, to ground out to second and then faced Johnny Mize and got him to fly out to center field. Terry Moore was next and it was a lazy pop fly to third base and he was out of the inning with no hits allowed. After that he was 13-5 in the season and mustered a 2.54 ERA along with three shutouts. He pitched in the World Series and lost as the Reds were swept.

He served in the United States Navy in World War II and after his discharge the Reds allowed him to sign with the New York Yankees. His career record was 3,26 ERA and a 47-35 record along with 315 strikeouts. He pitched 686 2/3 innings in 185 games. When he finished his playing time in 1947 he became a scout for the next 40 years for the San Francisco Giants, He retired in 2005. He died on August 24, 2006 and is buried in Scottsdale, Arizona.


Here is a great BIO written by SABR.


Where is Latham, Illinois? It is in Logan County and Latham was platted in 1871, and named in honor of Robert B. Latham, a railroad official.A post office called Latham has been in operation since 1872. It has a population of 321 in the 2000 census.

Mudvayne singer Chad Gray is from Latham.