Dave Flood, a 3-foot-2 radio personality from Florida, will join former major leaguer Danny Sandoval and the rest of the Revolution as a non-roster invitee Tuesday on the first day of camp.
That's no joke, team officials said.
Revolution owner Peter Kirk defends the move as a legitimate baseball experiment, first proposed by author Todd Gallagher.
Gallagher wants to prove that a little person can be a valuable player, in much the same way a 7-foot athlete can help a basketball team. The author of "Andy Roddick Beat Me with a Frying Pan," Gallagher proposes offbeat sports questions with his writing, including: Would an obese goalie succeed in the NHL?
"That would NOT work," Gallagher said with a big laugh, admitting his experiment with a beefy goalie and the Washington Capitals failed. "That is a terrible, terrible idea."
He's convinced, however, that little people in baseball will succeed. His goal is to convince a major league organization to hire Flood - or another little person - as a pinch-hitter.
"This is as big of a stunt as putting (7-foot-7) Manute Bol on your basketball team," Gallagher said when reached by phone in California.
Using a little person for a publicity stunt worked for maverick baseball owner Bill Veeck when he hired 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel - with a reported strike zone of 1½ inches - to pinch hit for the St. Louis Browns in 1951. Gaedel walked on four pitches in his only major league at-bat. He earned $100, "the minimum AGVA scale for a midget act," Veeck wrote in his autobiography "Veeck as in Wreck." The stunt created excitement for the Browns in a town dominated by fans of the more successful Cardinals.
Revolution officials aren't looking for laughs, though.
"I had a tremendous amount of hesitation and caution," said Kirk, whose ownership group operates four teams in the independent Atlantic League. "If it turns out to be viewed as a gimmick, I'd call the whole thing off."
Flood, whose MySpace page includes a picture of him with talk-show host Jerry Springer, has spent the last 11 years as radio personality "Dave the Dwarf" on the MJ Morning Show on FLZ 93.3 FM in Florida. At 44, he will be the oldest player to appear with the Revolution, and is four months older than York manager Chris Hoiles.
"I'd be willing to take a pay cut," Flood said about leaving radio for a full-time baseball job, "if I could fulfill my fantasy."
Flood has attracted attention before. He has been sent to live in a Dumpster for charity and stuffed inside a giant bowling ball, according to the St. Petersburg Times. He also filed a lawsuit in 2001 against the state of Florida alleging his constitutional right to equal protection was violated by a state law prohibiting dwarf tossing in bars. He has also campaigned for Congress and supervisor of Hillsborough County's Soil and Water Conservation District 2.
"It's just like with the dwarf tossing," Flood said. "No one should be able to tell me what I can or can't do because of my height."
Flood has not played baseball as an adult - "just kid stuff," he said when reached by phone in Florida. Asked if he will be looking to walk every time, or swing the bat - Flood paused.
"Let's take baby steps," he said. "I want to see how fast it's coming at me first."
A documentary filmmaker associated with Gallagher will follow Flood during spring training.
"One of the interesting aspects about this is how he fits in with the rest of the players," Revolution general manager Matt O'Brien said.
So far the players have endorsed the move.
"This league offers a great opportunity for anybody," said fellow non-roster invitee Keoni DeRenne, who has played in eight professional seasons - including three stints in Triple-A. "It's nice to know I'm not going to be the shortest player."
DeRenne is listed at 5-foot-7.
"If he can get a bases-loaded walk for us, I'm all for it," said Revolution outfielder Jason Aspito, the team MVP last season. "You can't hit them all."