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The Short and the Short and the Second Base of It
2006-04-03 22:23
by Mike Carminati

There's a query on the SABR email list that I found intriguing:

Today the Cardinals' opening-day lineup included a middle-infield tandem of the 5'6" David Eckstein at shortstop and the 5'8" Aaron Miles at second base for a total height of 11'2" (according to; lists each player at 5'7"). What is the shortest combined height for a keystone combination?

It's impossible to say what the shortest combination was of all time. You would have to go through every box score, some of which are unavailable. I thought a better course would be to look at the shortest starting doubleplay combinations all time.

And here they are. That is, all the combos under 11'2":

1891Boston RedsAAPaul Radford6656Cub Stricker6353129109
1876Philadelphia AthleticsNLDavy Force6454Wes Fisler66561301010
1882Philadelphia AthleticsAALou Say6757Cub Stricker63531301010
1885Philadelphia AthleticsAASadie Houck6757Cub Stricker63531301010
1884Philadelphia AthleticsAASadie Houck6757Cub Stricker63531301010
1908St. Louis CardinalsNLPatsy O'Rourke6757Billy Gilbert64541311011
1919Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1920Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1921Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1915Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1918Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1881Buffalo BisonsNLJohn Peters6757Davy Force64541311011
1884New York MetropolitansAACandy Nelson6656Dasher Troy65551311011
1916Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1871Washington OlympicsNADavy Force6454Andy Leonard67571311011
1877St. Louis Brown StockingsNLDavy Force6454Mike McGeary67571311011
1917Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Ralph Young65551311011
1888Cleveland BluesAAEd McKean6959Cub Stricker6353132110
1889Cleveland SpidersNLEd McKean6959Cub Stricker6353132110
1887Cleveland BluesAAEd McKean6959Cub Stricker6353132110
1892New York GiantsNLShorty Fuller6656Eddie Burke6656132110
1872Washington OlympicsNAWally Goldsmith6757Tommy Beals6555132110
1871Philadelphia AthleticsNAJohn Radcliff6656Al Reach6656132110
1872Troy HaymakersNADavy Force6454Jimmy Wood6858132110
1882Detroit WolverinesNLMike McGeary6757Dasher Troy6555132110
1878Indianapolis BluesNLFred Warner6757Joe Quest6656133111
1923Pittsburgh PiratesNLRabbit Maranville6555Johnny Rawlings6858133111
1879Chicago White StockingsNLJohn Peters6757Joe Quest6656133111
1880Chicago White StockingsNLTom Burns6757Joe Quest6656133111
1904New York GiantsNLBill Dahlen6959Billy Gilbert6454133111
1881Chicago White StockingsNLTom Burns6757Joe Quest6656133111
1906New York GiantsNLBill Dahlen6959Billy Gilbert6454133111
1922Pittsburgh PiratesNLRabbit Maranville6555Cotton Tierney6858133111
1911Detroit TigersALDonie Bush6656Charley O'Leary6757133111
1892Baltimore OriolesNLTim O'Rourke70510Cub Stricker6353133111
1933Boston BravesNLBilly Urbanski6858Rabbit Maranville6555133111
1932Boston BravesNLBilly Urbanski6858Rabbit Maranville6555133111
1905New York GiantsNLBill Dahlen6959Billy Gilbert6454133111
1886Washington NationalsNLDavy Force6454Jimmy Knowles6959133111
1922Philadelphia AthleticsALChick Galloway6858Ralph Young6555133111
1872New York MutualsNADickey Pearce6353John Hatfield70510133111
1875Philadelphia AthleticsNADavy Force6454Bill Craver6959133111
1917Boston BravesNLRabbit Maranville6555Johnny Rawlings6858133111
1873Philadelphia AthleticsNAMike McGeary6757Wes Fisler6656133111
1902Baltimore OriolesALBilly Gilbert6454Jimmy Williams6959133111
1872Brooklyn EckfordsNAJim Snyder6757Candy Nelson6656133111
1872Philadelphia AthleticsNAMike McGeary6757Wes Fisler6656133111
1901Milwaukee BrewersALWid Conroy6959Billy Gilbert6454133111

You might notice that most of those guys are from quite a long time ago. Given that players are larger today in general, it might be unfair comparison.

Therefore, I limited it to players from 1950 until today. No starting keystone combo was under 11'2" in that period:

1991Atlanta BravesNLRafael Belliard6656Mark Lemke6959135113
1975Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Cookie Rojas70510135113
1974Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Cookie Rojas70510135113
1992Atlanta BravesNLRafael Belliard6656Mark Lemke6959135113
1973Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Cookie Rojas70510135113
1972Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Cookie Rojas70510135113
1971Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Cookie Rojas70510135113
1979Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Frank White71511136114
1966Houston AstrosNLSonny Jackson6959Joe Morgan6757136114
1978Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Frank White71511136114
1976Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Frank White71511136114
1977Kansas City RoyalsALFreddie Patek6555Frank White71511136114
1967Houston AstrosNLSonny Jackson6959Joe Morgan6757136114
1980Atlanta BravesNLLuis Gomez6959Glenn Hubbard6757136114

For the record, here are the tallest combos. It's no surprise that Cal Ripken dominates the list:

1985Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Alan Wiggins7462150126
1963Chicago CubsNLAndre Rodgers7563Ken Hubbs7462149125
1962Chicago CubsNLAndre Rodgers7563Ken Hubbs7462149125
1989Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Billy Ripken7361149125
1999Arizona DiamondbacksNLAndy Fox7664Jay Bell7361149125
1990Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Billy Ripken7361149125
1988Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Billy Ripken7361149125
1987Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Billy Ripken7361149125
1992Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Billy Ripken7361149125
1991Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Billy Ripken7361149125
2001New York YankeesALDerek Jeter7563Alfonso Soriano7361148124
1977Minnesota TwinsALRoy Smalley7361Bob Randall7563148124
1996Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Roberto Alomar7260148124
2002New York YankeesALDerek Jeter7563Alfonso Soriano7361148124
2002Texas RangersALAlex Rodriguez7563Michael Young7361148124
2001Texas RangersALAlex Rodriguez7563Michael Young7361148124
1978Minnesota TwinsALRoy Smalley7361Bob Randall7563148124
1976Minnesota TwinsALRoy Smalley7361Bob Randall7563148124
1984Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Rich Dauer7260148124
1958New York YankeesALTony Kubek7563Gil McDougald7361148124
2003New York YankeesALDerek Jeter7563Alfonso Soriano7361148124
2003Texas RangersALAlex Rodriguez7563Michael Young7361148124
1983Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Rich Dauer7260148124
1982Baltimore OriolesALCal Ripken7664Rich Dauer7260148124
2006-04-04 02:14:03
1.   joejoejoe
Harry Chappas (5'3") is the shortest player I can remember - he was a backup SS for the White Sox in the late 70s who once made the cover of Sports Illustrated. I just did a search for the cover photo and found a copy at the Who's Who of Short People. It's almost Cooperstown.

2006-04-04 14:11:17
2.   Pip
Thanks for providing the lists, Mike. I think I may have found the shortest starting lineup combo that is documented, and it indeed involves Chappas:

1978 White Sox
Harry Chappas (SS): 63"
Joe Gates (2B): 67"
Total height: 130"

Matt Philip
Bob Broeg Chapter

2006-04-05 06:02:24
3.   Mike Carminati

That's correct, Chappas/Gates is the shortest documented in a box score. However, there were shorter possible combos that I'll document later.

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