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The New Britain Rock Cats debut two new players. One is the tallest in baseball, one is the shortest.
Have you heard a Connecticut team has landed a 7-foot-1, 225-pounder for this year's roster?
Think we're talking basketball? Think again.
He is believed to be the tallest player in all of professional baseball, according to the Rock Cats. The team announced Van Mil had been moved up from Ft. Meyers in the Florida State League Monday.
Joining Van Mil on the Rock Cats' roster Monday is shortstop Chris Cates. Cates, 25, of Brandon, Fla., is just 5'3" tall. He is considered the smallest player in all of professional baseball, according to the Rock Cats.
If Van Mil makes the big leagues, he'll be the tallest player in Major League history. That distinction is currently held by Jon Rauch, a relief pitcher for the Minnesota Twins. Rauch is a mere 6-foot-11. He edged out Randy Johnson, who was also listed at 6-foot-11 but is slightly shorter than Rauch.
Of course, Cates isn't going to break any MLB records. He's got a good 20 inches on Eddie Gaedel, the shortest player to ever play in the big leagues. Gaedel, a dwarf, appeared in one at-bat for the St. Louis Browns on Aug. 19, 1951. Gaedel, who had a strike zone about the size of a nickel, walked on four pitches. He was replaced by a pinch runner, and the crowd gave him a standing ovation.
Gaedel's at-bat was a stunt by Bill Veeck, the Brown's owner and one of baseball's all-time great showmen. Veeck said he measured Gaedel's strike zone before the game and it was just 1 1/2 inches tall. The American League voided Gaedel's contract the next day
Cates and Van Mil are not a stunt. Both were just promoted from Class A Fort Myers, where Van Mile was 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA and Cates hit .204 with three stolen bases.