Robstown's new professional baseball team has announced the Beach Dawgs will have a unique leadoff hitter for their game Monday.
It first happened 57 years ago, when baseball maverick owner Bill Veeck called upon Edward Carl "Eddie" Gaedel to come to the plate on behalf of his St. Louis Browns baseball team to face the Detroit Tigers.
Gaedel was signed to a contract before the first game of a doubleheader that day and popped out of a paper-mache birthday cake between games.
The 3-foot-7-inch, 65-pound Gaedel, an American dwarf, came to the plate against pitcher Bob Cain in the first inning and took four, high pitches for a walk after being introduced as a pinch-hitter for Frank Saucier.
"For a minute, I felt like Babe Ruth," Gaedel said after the game.
Ron Baron, the part owner of the Corpus Christi Beach Dawgs, may feel the same way Monday night when he watches the start of his team's game against the Bay Area Toros. Baron was raised in New York and remembers when Gaedel died in Chicago in 1961, alone in a room at the age of 36.
So, to honor Gaedel, and to reinforce the idea that all men and baseball players are created equal, Baron decided to sign 4-foot-6-inch, 114-pound Chris Dube, aka "Little Kato" to wrestling fans, to a one-day contract to face the Toros at Fairgrounds Field Monday in an official Continental Baseball League game.
"The whole idea of Independent League baseball is to entertain families and young boys and girls, and along the way teach them the history of the great game that I have known for almost 50 years," Baron said. "Our league is built around the idea of keeping ticket and concessions prices at a minimum, keeping things small if you will. So with that in mind, why not sign a small player to a pro contract, to give him an opportunity."
Baron also wanted to salute the late Bill Veeck, who he said "always remembered the little people in the game."
Dube will also participate in Midget Wrestling Exhibition post-game activities Monday.
Dube, 44, said he is looking forward to facing off against the Toros on Monday night.
"It's another chance to show folks that size doesn't matter in life," Dube said. "They used to tell me that I shouldn't be wrestling, but it's OK for two tall men to wrestle, right? And it's OK for two women to wrestle in oil and with hardly any clothes on, right? Yet some folks want to complain about midget wrestling. It's a bunch of (bull). I don't have time for those kind of people."
Baron said the feedback from local fans about this special post-game wrestling event has been so strong that the CBL is considering a few more similar events at other ballparks later this season.
"I've been looking for the ideal lead-off guy for our team all spring," said Beach Dawgs general manager and manager Hector Salinas, "and Little Kato caught my eye right away. He's got a level swing, fast hands and of course, I love that small strike zone. I just had to make sure we could find a uniform for him.
"I think some of our younger fans under 8 years old will be able to identify with Little Kato. They can see him in the batter's box and imagine what it might be like to go to the plate in one of our games. It'll be a fun experience for our young fans. I just hope he gets on base for us. I heard he has fast feet."
The Beach Dawgs will kick off their first season in the CBL Friday at Texas City against the Bay Area Toros, and make their home debut Sunday at Fairgrounds Field.
After Monday's 7:05 p.m. Memorial Day contest, the Beach Dawgs hit the road for a six-game trip before returning home for a six-game set beginning June 3.
The first 200 youngsters who attend Beach Dawg games this summer will be able to meet and greet their hometown players on the field for the playing of the national anthem, as well as participate in free post-game clinics with Beach Dawg players.
Youngsters can also run the bases and get autographs following each home game. In addition, there are plans to honor local heroes such as firefighters, military and police in the community on an on-going basis, along with literacy programs to enhance reading and verbal skills for youngsters.