Baseball Almanac likes to take a look "beyond the stats" and we hope you enjoy the following article, which is essentially a superbly detailed Albie Pearson self-interview, which appeared in the October 1958 issue of Baseball Digest, Page 11:
Midget in the Majors
Washington's five-foot-five outfield tells how it feels to be the smallest player in the big leagues
by ALBIE PEARSON
As told to Richard Dozer - Chicago Tribune
How does it feel to be the smallest guy in the major leagues?
If you want the truth, it feels great - it's a thrill just to be IN the big leagues with my five feet five and one-half inches and 141 poinds. That's enough for me, even if I DO have to look up to Nellie Fox of the White Sox. Come to think of it, there's nothing wrong with THAT little guy.
I never have the satisfaction of looking an umpire in the eye, I'm forever signing autographs for kids taller than I am, and human skyscrapers like Norm Zauchin and Jim Lemon of our club make me feel like a midget when they walk by but, hand me a bat and let me step into the box, and I'm as good as the next guy - some of 'em, at least.
I guess my psychology professor in junior college at Pomona, Cal., got me started in baseball when he suggested on day that I was more interested in gazing out the window at the athletic field than I was in his lectures.
That was two months after I enrolled - an on impulse I decided the professor was right! So I excused myself from class as politely as I could and went out to sign a contract with the Boston Red Sox.
Now, six years later, here I am in the Washington Senators' outfield - the smallest man in basbeall and proud of it.
Yes, of course they told me I was too small. I came out of high school as a left-handed pitcher but I guess the Red Sox never would have given me a second look back there in the fall of 1952 if it hadn't been for the fact that Bobby Shantz had just won 24 games for the A's. Bobby's less than a full inch taller than I am, you know, and he's still a pretty good left-hander.
Even though I signed as a pitcher, I made only rare trips to the mound during my minor league career. Last year I pitched a couple of innings for San Francisco in the Pacific Coast League. But that first year, 1953, the Red Sox sent me to San Jose in the California State League, and it developed that when the season began the club had only two outfielders.
They decided I was the guy to full this emergencym and I guess you might say an outfielder was born.
I got lucky and made four hits, so they put me out there the next night, too, and what happened? Four hits again. They left me there, and I hit .334 in 125 games.
I really had intended to make it to the big leagues as a pitcher. In high school I had run the 100-yard dash under ten seconds, and I played four years of football as a 125-pound halfback. But pitching was my real love - and Shantz was my idol. Now, when I analyze myself, however, I don't think I ever would have been a Major League pitcher - maybe triple A, but no better.
My best season was 1956, when I hit .371 for Oklahoma City and won the Texas League batting championship. I was .297 for San Francisco last year, and then the Red Sox traded me to Washington along with Zauchin for Pete Runnels. This was the best thing that could have happened to me.
Another thing that really helped me to succeed was the confidence gained by winning the ball players' golf championship before Florida spring training started this year. Instead of being just another half-pint trying to make the big leagues, I was Gregory Albert Pearson - competitor!
I've got a lot to learn about baseball. I don't think I play the outfield as well yet as I will. Yes, I'm plenty confident - you have to be. But I'm careful not to think for a minute that I know it all. When you do, you're ready for a fall.
I've been making a habit this year of studying the other small men in our league. There is a lot I can learn from Fox. He is a self-made ball player and has learned to compensate for lack of size by developing hitting into a science. I'm trying to do the same. He plays hard and slides hard. So do I.
You could call me a third generation athlete of the Pearson family. I'm no relation to that jockey who knows all about paintings, but my dad was a five-five halfback and spring champion at Pasadena City College, and grandpa, who was only five-two, had 113 professional fights as a pretty good bantamweight.
They accuse me of being a singer, too, and I guess I don't do too badly. I sang two baritone solos at my own wedding five years ago. Since that time, my wife and I have been blessed with two fine daughters, and any day now we expect to be parents again.
And maybe this child will be a fourth generation athlete for the California Pearsons.
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