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Thursday, April 25, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Weird celebrations in downtown Spokane

Tom Keefe addresses the faithful at O'Doherty's
Tom Keefe addresses the faithful at O'Doherty's

The latest chapter in Spokane’s celebration of history’s most unlikely baseball player – Eddie Gaedel – took place last Wednesday at O’Doherty’s Irish Pub & Grill.

The high point came when Tom Keefe, patron saint of the Eddie Gaedel Society, Chapter One, unveiled a beautiful painting he commissioned to depict the biggest moment in Little Eddie’s life.

On Aug. 19, 1951, the 3-foot-7 Gaedel was put in the lineup for the St. Louis Browns with orders from Bill Veeck, the promotions-minded team owner, to not swing or else!

Eddie’s only major league at bat went according to Veeck’s scheme.

He drew a walk, giving him a perfect on base percentage. Today Gaedel’s rare autograph sells for more money than the immortal Babe’s. 

Keefe, fascinated by the story since his youth, founded the society as a way to give Gaedel, who died in 1961, the appreciation he never received in life.

Keefe’s movement has taken off like Pete Rose racing for home.

New chapters have formed. Earlier this summer the Baseball Reliquary in Pasadena acknowledged Keefe’s efforts by giving him the 2015 Hilda, which recognizes the year’s top baseball fan.

The painting (titled “Take a Walk Eddie”) was created by Jennifer Ettinger of Vancouver B.C.

“I portray sports heroes who have traits I admire as well as those players who have human frailties,” she said.

Keefe attended the meeting garbed head to toe in a St. Louis Browns uniform and was ecstatic by the response.

“Did you check out the crowd? Overflowing into the outdoor seating area and spilling it into the streets!” said Keefe. 

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Thoughts and ruminations from S-R columnist Doug Clark