Sunday, May 13, 2007
Minor league baseball is, at heart, all about novelty. The majority of fans are not drawn to the ballpark by player relationships, but by good prices, good promotions, and the promise of fun and entertainment.
Thanks to Bill Veeck, who revolutionized the way baseball was marketed, and his son Mike, who has followed in his father's footsteps, the game has seen a huge surge in the creativity displayed by event staffs across the nation. From Jack Kerouac bobblehead dolls to Office Space Night, teams everywhere are trying to be the first to come up with something no one has ever thought of before.
Last Sunday, something happened in St. Paul that went largely unnoticed. The Saint Paul Saints, run by Mike Veeck and long renowned for cooking up the best promotional events in baseball, presented the "Saints Largest Promotion Ever". The gimmick? An official at-bat for 7'3" Milwaukee native Dave Rasmussen, who is believed to be the tallest player ever to appear in a professional game (
Randy Johnson, Eric Hillman and Chris Young are the tallest major leaguers, at 6'10Jon Rauch is the tallest major leaguer, at 6'11"). The Public Address announcer was kind enough to note that "strike zone is so big, it has its own zip code!"
Wearing uniform number 73, Rasmussen struck out on three pitches, immediately placing him second behind Eddie Gaedel (the 3'6" batter who walked on four pitches for Bill Veeck's St. Louis Browns in a 1951 game) on the list of performances by players of uncommon size.
Fortunately, there's video. It starts slow (two whole minutes of small talk and generic promotions such as that weird Sumo Wrestling thing teams like to do) but improves around the 2:40 mark, when Rasmussen walks onto the field and immediately proves that he had never before held a baseball bat.
~Weekend Editor: One More Dying Quail