Midgets' Class-Action Suit vs. MLB

August 14, 2015
 Okay, I’m being offensive in using the term "midgets"—please substitute "little people" or whatever euphemism floats your boat, but that was the term commonly used in 1951, when Eddie Gaedel, all of 3’7", pinch-hit for Bill Veeck’s St. Louis Browns, drew a walk (naturally) and was promptly thrown out of baseball. Under the broad powers of preventing "a mockery being made of the game of baseball," and "in the best interests of baseball," all midgets were forbidden from playing MLB forever and ever.

 

I’m not really sure about the legal issues involved here, but I think I’m correct in stating that the Commissioner (maybe it was the league president) forbade Veeck from employing any future midgets. It was actually all MLB teams, and the ban may just be understood, rather than explicitly banning midgets from play.  Certainly we haven’t seen any midgets on an MLB roster since August 19, 1951. The official ruling may have just said that "All MLB contracts must be approved in advance by the league," because Veeck had just signed Gaedel to a short-term contract the day before the game.  (Gaedel got about 100 bucks, if you’re interested, for his day’s work.) Presumably, in vetting any last-minute contracts of non-MLB players, the league now checks carefully how tall the new player is.

 

But is this legal, or fair, or just? (If you want to read details about the Veeck-Gaedel episode, try Veeck’s autobiography Veeck as in Wreck, which is hilarious, maybe my favorite baseball book, certainly the best document an MLB team owner ever wrote, or ever will write.) Being very short is, simply, a useful skill in baseball, and if a team wishes to devote a roster spot to someone who possesses that skill, why should they be barred from doing so? To my legal point: someone who has that useful skill is being deprived, by the formal or informal anti-Gaedel ruling, of a gigantic salary. Very few midgets earn the MLB minimum which is something like a half-million bucks per year, and I think there are a few MLB teams that would be improved by employing a midget if they were allowed to.

 

Tactically, it’s just a matter of how valuable one spot on the roster is. In 1951 (and basically before Bill James beat this point into baseball’s thick skull in the 1970s) walks weren’t considered especially valuable. People used to argue that players who drew a lot of walks—like Mickey Mantle and Ted Williams, for example—were kind of cowardly, meekly accepting the gift of a free base rather than swinging at the ball, like a he-man would do. Roger Kahn actually described Duke Snider’s joyful facial expression upon drawing a fourth ball with a kind of contempt and disgust. These guys were capable of jacking the ball out of the park, but instead they allowed the pitcher to walk them, and so left the real job of hitting to some other player, the wussies! And guys who couldn’t hit as well as Mantle, Williams, and Snider but who drew a lot of walks—guys like Eddie Stanky or Eddie Joost or Eddie Yost or Eddie Bodyelse—got Dangerfield-like levels of respect for their high on-base percentage. One of my favorite stats concerns Richie Ashburn in 1962, his last year for the NY Mets, who virtually led the league in on-base percentage (he fell a few plate appearances shy of qualifying for the league lead). Ashburn retired (from one of the worst teams in MLB history, mind you) because he was felt, and felt himself, to be over the hill, not really effective anymore. Can you imagine how teams would compete today to sign a 35-year-old outfielder who could lead the NL in OBP, which is widely considered to be the single most important offensive attribute in the game?

 

Ashburn, of course, could still play the field, and still hit. (He batted .306 that final year, and played 54 games in centerfield, though not nearly at the Gold Glove level that he’d played it at in his youth). But he ‘only’ had an on-base percentage of .424, while midgets in their total on-base percentage throughout major league history have an OBP of 1.000 (composite plate appearances: 1). If an MLB team wanted to devote a roster spot to someone who could certainly draw a crucial walk in most (if not all) of his at-bats, and then put in a pinch-runner for the OBP specialist (a nice euphemism for ‘midget’), that might be an excellent strategy.

 

I drafted the previous five paragraphs in 2009, a few years before Bill James came out with much the same view: in a throw-away line, Bill opined recently that a midget with a decent lawyer might make a pretty fair case in court, but I’d be interested in hearing what a lawyer specializing in such cases has to say about the pitfalls of bringing such a suit. (I’m an Internet-Rules Lawyer, of course, and a fair clubhouse lawyer, but am not certified to plead, except for mercy, before any court of law.) Obviously, there’s something here that’s keeping a suit like this from being brought against MLB, though I’m not quite sure what the reasoning would be. I suspect it has to do with the limited number of MLB roster spots.

 

MLB would argue, I suspect (if it ever got to this point), that a roster spot is just too valuable to waste on a single at-bat specialist, who would need to be removed from the game immediately after being used-- but who limits roster sizes in the first place? MLB does, in agreement with the Players’ Association. Certainly (I would argue, if I owned a pair of striped trousers) after the September 1 roster expansion, you could spare one roster spot for a guy with an all-but-guaranteed 1.000 OBP. I can certainly remember plenty of moments when my teams have desperately needed baserunners in September games.

 

Come to think of it, there have been moments when I would have given up four post-September 1 roster spots to get a single run across the plate in the form of four straight Eddie Gaedels stepping up to the plate. The argument against four Eddie Gaedels, or even one, is "You’re making a mockery of the game," but I don’t know how that stands up, legally, against the claim that the rules of baseball unwittingly favor midgets, and if MLB wants to discourage midgets from playing baseball, it needs to come up with better rules. Declaring a minimum size for a batter’s strike zone? Making a rule that pinch-hitters must play the field for a certain proportion of their innings?  I don’t know exactly what could be done, but I do know that having a gentleman’s agreement that people under a certain unspecified height, in the Commissioner’s judgment, are permanently banned from MLB is highly questionable from a legal perspective. 

 

The arbitrary size of the roster is itself intriguing, quite apart from the vexing problem of midgets. Which orifice, and whose, was the magic number "25" yanked out of? It probably has its basis in actual practice (how many players can a team actually use at any one time?) and tinkering (remember the Holy Hell that broke loose a decade or two ago when they tried reducing it to 24?) and history. In the 19th century, as I understand that benighted century, there were just a few extra players, and any emergency beyond that could be accommodated by volunteer players seated in the grandstand, but we seem to have arrived at "25" at some point in time, and have pretty well stuck with that number.

 

A twenty-five man roster is now set in stone after negotiations with the Players’ Association, but everything that’s negotiated can be re-negotiated, and roster size determines baseball tactics and strategy, especially now that a dozen pitchers is considered the bare-bones minimum for a 25-man roster, leaving four or five players sitting on the bench, one or two of whom may not be available for pinch-hitting or –running duties in any given game, and one of whom (the backup catcher) might only be used very late in the game if at all. So certain tactics, such as Casey Stengel pinch-hitting for his weak-hitting infielders very early in World Series games, would now be considered crazy (or crazier). Stengel probably had 7 or 8 bench players available when he last did that, so he could afford to play that card. (I’ll check—the 1960 Yankees’ World Series roster had 10 pitchers and 7 bench players when Stengel pinch-hit for Cletis Boyer in the second inning of Game 1 that year.) Nowadays, managers must hoard their bench players more carefully than a miser does his nickels.  But why not change that roster-size in recognition of changes in the game since it was arrived at, seventy or eighty years ago?

 

One obvious suggestion concerns the changes in the way pitching staffs are being used. Not only are there more pitchers on an average roster, but they’re being used in much more rigid roles, especially the starters, who relieve only in the most desperate of desperate situations. Otherwise, they’re serving largely decorative functions four days out of five—so why not expand the roster to, say, twenty-eight players, of whom you may designate three as "To be used only after the fifteenth inning" or something of the sort?

 

This expansion of the roster assumes, of course, that we want pinch-hitters and relief pitchers galore—and actually, I don’t, especially the relief pitchers. It seems to me a self-perpetuating problem: if you have eight relievers, and you go through a stretch as every team does where you don’t use several of them for a week, you’re going to try to give them innings, or batters at least, just so they get work and so they feel a part of the team, whether you actually need them or not.  Your other relievers, meanwhile, are going to feel that they can rely on this surplus of pitching, allowing them to pitch in their designated roles, and only in those roles. But sometimes I wonder if it would be a more exciting game if players were asked more often to operate outside their roles.

 

What I’m talking about is a reduced roster. In its more extreme form, I’m talking about maybe nine pitchers on a team and eleven position players, or just enough players to (barely) cover emergencies. The most immediate benefit (to me, as a viewer of games) would be a real reluctance for a manager to replace any pitcher. He could still do it, of course, but that would require him to spend one of his precious nickels—every pitching change would represent him spending a coin while knowing full well he only has a few left clanking around in his pocket. "Can I afford to spend this?" he’d have to ask himself, as now he does not need to ask that question, because the answer is  "Sure, I can. I’ve got almost half-a-buck’s worth of nickels left in my bullpen" and so we have to sit through pitching change after meaningless pitching change, day after day, month after month, all because the cost to the manager is almost nil. I don’t want to hinder managers from making choices, but I do want there to be a real downside in making changes willy-nilly. (A great, very under-rated player, incidentally, Willie Nilly.) I want there to be at least as much disadvantage to the manager in making a pitching change as there is for me sitting on my couch, enduring another car dealer’s bombastic commercial for the 374th time.

 

A lot of the radical ideas I plan to float before your boats here involve making the game more difficult (I’d prefer "more challenging" but I’ll live with "difficult") for the players—and that’s fine with me. Some pitchers will deal better with midgets than other pitchers will: a cigarette-pack sized strike zone (to re-use Bill’s wonderful description of what Rickey Henderson in his crouch offered to pitchers) will be impossible for one pitcher to deal with, but barely possible for a control specialist to cope with. That’s virtuous to me, rewarding pitchers with exceptional control, penalizing pitchers who can’t hit the broad side of a cigarette pack from sixty feet. (Practically speaking, btw, a shoebox is more like it, since the plate is going to stay as wide as it is—only the distance between shoulders and knees is going to be affected.) But I do have a problem wherever the game is "comfortable" for players—I want the game to be stressful, difficult, challenging for the athletes because I think that’s where athleticism best presents itself, under difficult circumstances, where greatness among the greats emerges. That’s what I pay to see, not what’s comfortable, or safe, or traditional.

 
 

COMMENTS (34 Comments, most recent shown first)

OldBackstop
PDFs -- the terrorists won.
1:32 PM Aug 21st
 
Steven Goldleaf
Someone in my university made me a word version from a pdf today, thanks. I'll post it soon--I've got some other stuff in the pipeline.
7:44 PM Aug 20th
 
mauimike
"The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a regulation on Thursday to stop referring to midget raisins as "midget" after an activist group called the term offensive." The Washington Free Beacon. Your government at work. So if you can't call a raisin a "midget" you sure as hell can't call a human being one. Unless you're a totally insensitive, piece of pond scum, who has never seen the light of day.
7:13 PM Aug 20th
 
steve161
Steven: Word 2013 claims it can open a PDF for editing; my own experiments have met with some but not complete success. In Explorer, right-click on the PDF filename, select Open With. One of the options should be Word; select that and see what happens. If it looks useful, save immediately as a Word document (.docx) or, if backward-compatibility might be desired, as a Word-97 document (.doc). Edit as desired.

If that fails, try cut-and-paste. Open the PDF. Select usable blocks of text (avoid crossing column boundaries, for example) by highlighting with the cursor, then cut with ctrl-C. (If there is absolutely no formatting that might be a problem, select all with ctrl-A, then cut with ctrl-C.) Open a blank document with Word and paste in the selected text with ctrl-V. Repeat as necessary.

If you have a different version of Office, your mileage may vary.
6:34 PM Aug 20th
 
raincheck
As a matter of today's employment law, MLB could not ban small people (or people with small strike zones, which is transparently the same thing). If a small player came along today and a team thought him worthy of a roster spot, any attempt to prevent him from playing due to his "differentness" would be easily challenged in court.
1:59 PM Aug 20th
 
jwilt
I would be interested in the Will critique. I read Men at Work when it came out and I was young and I reflexively loved all conservative pundits, and baseball. Still have a copy on my bookshelf at home, but haven't touched it in decades.

I'm sure if I reread it I'd have difficulty taking it seriously. Hard to not read it as Dana Carvey's version of George Will from the George F. Will Sports Machine skit, mocking Mike Schmidt for not understating Willie Mays' catch as an "emphatic stroke of Byzantine whimsy".
10:00 AM Aug 20th
 
Steven Goldleaf
I'm not sure how much interest there is in reading a 25-year-old critique of George Will's idolatry of Tony La Russa, apart from steve161's, but I did find it in my office, and am trying to convert it to a pdf and then back to a word document so I can edit a bit. (All I have is the few chapters I printed out, and that was one of them. The rest of it, if it's anywhere, is on a floppy disk. You remember floppy disks, don't you?) If I can turn it into something I can edit (damned typos), I'll post it here. If anyone has tips for converting a pdf to a word document, preferably for free, I'm all ears.​
9:21 AM Aug 20th
 
rgregory1956

The game you're talking about was in 1912, and the players weren't plucked from the stands. They weren't major leaguers by any stretch, altho some had marginal careers before that game, some had minor league experience, and some were college and sandlot players in the area. All were recruited prior to the game and signed to contracts. Keeping with the theme of this article, it was a team of Eddie Gaedels: signed for one game as a publicity stunt in order to avoid a forfeiture.

I'm not a football fan, but this 1912 game was more like the replacement players the football teams used when the real players went on strike, not "A Price Is Right", come on down sort of scenario.
6:33 PM Aug 19th
 
thegue
Entertaining thread - but rgregory, as late as 1910 the Detroit Tigers played 2 players plucked out of the stands. I think it had something to do with Cobb being suspended.

I do know that Bill wrote about it in one of his abstracts.
4:11 PM Aug 19th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Oh, man, I forgot about that entire book.

What steve161 is alluding to is a book I began writing back in the early 1990s, MYTHS OF BASEBALL, which ambitiously attempted to review in a semi-systematic way ALL of the mythifying baseball writing I could get my hands on, including George Will's MEN AT WORK.

The project broke down (or I did) as baseball books kept proliferating faster than I could keep up--however hard I worked, I was getting further and further behind every month, and the book was already out of date, so I just gave it up.

But not before I'd critiqued at least a couple of dozen baseball books. I should see if anything's still salvageable. Probably an essay or two, I'd guess.

The other problem is that the 1990s were a long time ago, and I probably disagree with every point I made back then. Maybe I'm even a George Will (who I refer to as George F. Will, only partly because his middle name begins with "F") fan by now.

The other pattern you'll probably figure out before too long is that I love taking contrarian positions: I'm a dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist, I love pitching duels, etc. but I also have a lively imagination that I indulge in freely here.
8:39 PM Aug 18th
 
steve161
Steven, based on the huge sample of two articles, I think I'm spotting a trend. You've proposed 1) an outfield the size of Arizona, 2) using a roster spot on a pinch hitter who is 'guaranteed' to get on base, 3) reducing roster size to the point where it becomes necessary to leave a pitcher in the game who is getting shelled. My conclusion: you don't think there are nearly enough 14-12 games.

Anyway, for pure entertainment, you're two for two. Any plans to give us your critique of Men at Work?
7:12 PM Aug 18th
 
OldBackstop
I think the lawsuit here is with Tiger's backstop Bob Swift. Because if you catch a midget, he is supposed to give you his pot of gold.
6:57 PM Aug 18th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Fireball--Maybe in the next 64 years, they'll figure that out. Or when they get sued, whichever comes first.
5:49 PM Aug 18th
 
Fireball Wenz
I think baseball would likely solve the issue not by banning little people, but by establishing a minimum strike zone.
5:23 PM Aug 18th
 
evanecurb
I've always thought it ironic that every kid pitching in little league is expected to thread the ball into the strike zone of hitters who are four feet tall, but Ford Frick (or Happy Chandler, or whoever it was) assumed that it was unfair to ask a major league pitcher to do the same thing.


2:15 PM Aug 18th
 
shthar
I think they'll have to take up the Midget clause in Small Claims court.
10:58 PM Aug 17th
 
DMBBHF
Nice article, Steven!

Makes me wonder if there will ever be a similar action taken by really fat people who want to be hockey goalies.

On second thought...never mind. Looks like the notion that they would be effective has already been debunked:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP8ZVWiZUMA
10:48 PM Aug 17th
 
MarisFan61
Thanks -- well, ll I tried. :-)
8:42 PM Aug 17th
 
rwarn17588
No, his name was something like Russell Monks, or close to that.
8:24 PM Aug 17th
 
MarisFan61
To Rwarn17588: Might it have been a guy named TONY GONGWER?
He was the CF on Southeast Missouri in 1986, he seems to have been one of the main players on the team, and at least one article from that time describes him (as well as the team's second baseman) as being "short in stature."
I've got my money on Tony. :-)

BTW, the reason I was interested to try to check this out, besides that I just like little puzzles like this, is that one of my best friends was on the faculty at Carbondale then, and I visited there a few times although I didn't make it to any of the games.​
7:47 PM Aug 17th
 
OldBackstop
What I would be curious to see is if a relay race of four midgets, going from base to base, could beat a large land dwelling mammal, say, a camel.

I was able to find a race, actually:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFCNVvvmxNw

It's worth the cut and paste into your browser. It is really, really worth the cut and paste into your browser.

6:39 PM Aug 17th
 
rwarn17588
I should add that when I was covering baseball at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale in 1986, I saw a starting center fielder for either Southeast Missouri State University or Southwest Missouri State University (now Missouri State) who stood about 5-foot-1. He had normal-length legs, but a very short torso.

During a four-game series, he walked a bunch, stole four bases, fielded very well and blasted a double off the wall when the pitchers finally grooved one down the middle. SIUC, ranked in the Top 25 at the time, lost the series, and he largely was responsible. And, yes, the name Eddie Gaedel -- with actual baseball ability -- popped in my head a few times.

He made an impression, and I wondered whether a smart major-league team would draft him because of his unique tools. Damned if I can remember his name, though.
4:45 PM Aug 17th
 
Gfletch
Thanks for bringing this up again, Steven. The issue is brought up in the mind every time the story is recalled. The issue, if it is or even could be an issue, would be easily resolved by instituting a minimum size for the strike zone. As to the "aggrieved person" problem; no problem producing one that I can see. Lawyers in class action suits commonly go out and find them by the hundreds and thousands. Finally, I think it is typical of all of us that the Eddie Gaedel story, when told, almost invariably makes people think of this as a human rights issue (the supposed banning of "midgets" from the game) but nobody ever seems motivated to do anything about it.
4:44 PM Aug 17th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Kahn quoted his fellow sportswriter Bill Roeder, but he also agreed with Roeder and endorsed the denigrating things he was saying about Snider. Manager Charley Dressen had benched Snider at one point, and when he allowed Snider to play again, Kahn wrote, "Dressen's impersonal brutality worked. I don't know what was more disturbing, that or the way Snider, while hitting at a .400 pace, continued to discard his bat jubilantly when walked."

He goes to paraphrase Bill Roeder again, "joyous, as Roeder had observed, not to have to face another challenge," but that characterization, "jubilantly when walked," is Kahn writing in his own voice, making his own judgments. Kahn found Snider's response to drawing walks "disturbing" and Kahn described him discarding his bat "jubilantly," not Roeder.

I was also raised as a Brooklyn Dodger fan, btw.



4:38 PM Aug 17th
 
the_slasher14
Kahn did not denigrate Snider for taking walks. He was referring to another writer who did so.

And as a fan of those Dodger teams, let me tell you that when the next batters are Robinson, Campanella, Hodges and Furillo, walks to Snider were just fine with us.
4:07 PM Aug 17th
 
OldBackstop
Plunk him.
3:33 PM Aug 17th
 
OwenH
The ironic thing is, Jose Altuve doesn't even walk that often. He can hit and scoot, though, even for a little person.
2:48 PM Aug 17th
 
Steven Goldleaf
Just to clarify, regarding rawrn17588's point that I'll quote here:

"1) You basically cannot bring a lawsuit until you have someone who actually has been aggrieved. In other words, an team must sign a midget to the roster, and MLB must void the contract to set up the grounds for the lawsuit. A civil lawsuit based on theoretical conjecture has no standing."

I'm imagining a scenario where a modern-day Bill Veeck--let's imagine a more outside the box sabermetric thinker than Billy Beane-- decides to hire a "person of short stature" for the purposes I'm suggesting, but the Commissioner cites the Veeck rule (if ever one existed) and says, "Nope, just normal people." The person of short stature would then be the aggrieved party, and would be able to sue baseball. I don't know how well the argument "We can ban anyone we damned well please" would hold up.

I don't think the anti-trust exemption means that no one can sue MLB ever.

As to what this batter's OBA would be--nobody knows. It's not even central to my argument. Maybe this GM just wants to find out what it would be. The legal argument is that he should be allowed to find out--the baseball argument is how well would this work. Obviously 1.000 is the upside, but what's the downside? No one knows until we try it. If the experiment fails, and this GM is particularly stubborn, maybe he would then hire an extremely short (but extremely real) player--I think we can scour the nation's high schools to find some tiny person who can present a very small strike zone, and see if he can be trained to draw walks. My point is that banning short people because they're short from a playing a game where shortness is very desirable is discriminatory. Whether a legal case could be won is open to discussion, but I think the best reason this issue hasn't come up so far is that no GM has felt like antagonizing MLB, but if one did, it would be interesting.
2:20 PM Aug 17th
 
rgregory1956

Not saying it wouldn't work, just saying that I don't think the strategy would work. Bob Cain walked Gaedel because he was laughing the whole time, knowing it was a publicity stunt. If a 3'7" person were to be used as a strategy, pitchers wouldn't find it so amusing, and I'm guessing that most Major league caliber pitchers could throw enough 65 MPH fastballs right down the middle of the plate for strikes before they pitched 4 that were outside the strike zone. Asuming that the little person's only skill was being little, a MLB pitcher probably wouldn't care if he swung away; it's unlikely that the hit ball would leave the infield, for either a Little League caliber pop-up or a weak grounder that any infielder could throw to first before the batter could reach first. My guess is that Gaedel's OBA, if he had been used as a daily pinch-hitter, might have had an OBA of .100. But even if Gaedel could keep his OBA around .400, you'd have to utilize a roster spot/reserve for a pinch runner. And if this use actually happened, the repercussions might be negative. Knowing myself as I do, if I had a 95 MPH fastball, I'd plunk whoever batter after Gaedel, somewhere between the lower back and lower thigh. My thought process would be, "Hey opposing manager, you want a man on base so much, I'll put one of your stars on my way." I'm pretty sure most players batting after Gaedel (whether he walked or not) would quickly go to the manager and tell him to stop it.

I'm no lawyer either, but I'm not positive anyone could sue baseball, as it has an exemption of anti-trust laws. And this issue may apply.

As far as I know, no one ever was "plucked" out of the stands to play a MLB game, a la "The Price Is Right". I know of no occurance where guy with the megaphone calls out, "Cap Anson is injured and can't play anymore. The man in Section B, Row 5, seat #12, come on down, you're the next first baseman!". Exhibitions? Sure, but not a "real" game. A meaningless game in October (they played later in the year way-back-when)? Perhaps, but I haven't found one yet. Most teams had a player or two, a player who either played for the local minor league team (or best semi-pro team if their was no minor league team in that city) or a local college baseball player, sitting in the stands in case of an emergency. THESE are the guys that are one-game wonders of the 19th century.

12:56 PM Aug 17th
 
rwarn17588
A couple of observations:

1) You basically cannot bring a lawsuit until you have someone who actually has been aggrieved. In other words, an team must sign a midget to the roster, and MLB must void the contract to set up the grounds for the lawsuit. A civil lawsuit based on theoretical conjecture has no standing.

2) It's a rash assumption an MLB pitcher wouldn't be able to throw strikes to a midget. I don't think it's a rash to assume, however, these midgets wouldn't be able to hit a major-league pitch -- namely because they haven't honed skills for their whole careers to hit one. MLB pitchers certainly can throw pitches into pretty tight spots. So if you've got a small strike-zone target with an opponent who very likely won't even make contact with the bat, I'd say the chance of that pitcher hitting the target is pretty high.

What would the on-base percentage be for midgets who pinch-hit? I doubt very seriously it would be 1.000. It might be .700 -- even then, that might be generous. And would that advantage for one at-bat be enough for all this trouble? I don't know.



12:41 PM Aug 17th
 
packbringley
Using a term that wouldn't offend the community is not employing a "euphemism," it's only being respectful. Think of some other 1951 terms and this isn't difficult to understand.
11:07 AM Aug 17th
 
MarisFan61
Oh.....why it was ridiculous?
Besides that it was an ambush, I realize I'm assuming something: that the intent wasn't serious, that it was intended as a stunt. If so, I would think it could reasonably have been regarded as well below the Minoso line.
2:36 AM Aug 15th
 
MarisFan61
.....sorry, I see that the link to the earlier article doesn't work. How about this:
www.billjamesonline.com/the_bullpen_over_time/?AuthorId=3
2:16 AM Aug 15th
 
MarisFan61
Interesting points, not to mention amusing -- and I don't know if it would be good for baseball to allow such "OBP specialists" into the game, but I'd love to witness the law case.

I think the common-sense way for MLB to have dealt with it at the time would have been simply to say something like, "That's ridiculous, and we're disallowing it because it's ridiculous, and we're going to disallow whatever else is ridiculous," without any reference to midgets or height. And from what you say, it looks like it's not clear that they didn't officially just say something like this. I realize of course that rules and regulations sometimes need to be more specific than "You can't do anything ridiculous." It would be good to see exactly how MLB put it back then, and what if anything is in there about such a thing now.

As soon as you started talking about letting "OBP specialists" into the game, and especially when you added the part about roster size, I was thinking "Then, teams would make sure to have a pitcher who can throw strikes to these little guys." I was glad to see that you had that covered later on.

Last month, in the Comments on Bill's article, "The Bullpen Over Time" (https://www.billjamesonline.com/the_bullpen_over_time/?pg=2) I mentioned limited roster size as a thing that has limited major league teams from having relievers take more and more innings from starters. Bill strongly rejected it, I thought too strongly and summarily. In any event I think your premise about roster size seems to come from the same line of reasoning.
2:13 AM Aug 15th
 
 
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