The voice came from down near the floor, filling the York Revolution's near-empty clubhouse.
"Tell me the rest of the pitchers in this league aren't as good as you," Dave Flood said, looking up at Revolution pitcher Corey Thurman. "I wasn't expecting to see strikes. You almost made me swing."
Thurman, who once pitched for the Toronto Blue Jays, just smiled.
Flood stands 3-foot-2. He stood in the batting cage against live pitching during the first day of Revolution spring training at Sovereign Bank Stadium on Tuesday. His arrival has been termed an "experiment" by the team's front office -- an opportunity to see if a little person can succeed in professional baseball as a pinch-hit specialist.
In other words, can Flood, 44, walk every time he steps to the plate?
Asked if he feels tempted to swing, Flood smiled.
"If I hit it, I have to run," Flood said more than once for local media covering the event, "and I'm not too big on that."
Arriving on the field in a golf cart driven by a member of the York Revolution grounds crew, Flood stood at the plate wearing a batting helmet with a wire facemask. His first batting practice -- err, make that watching practice -- ended without incident. He didn't swing the bat, and pitchers struggled to throw a pitch in his strike zone.
Flood grinned, and looked out the corner of his eyes at the players surrounding the cage. He estimates his strike zone at 6 inches.
"Basically you just throw fastballs and paint (the plate), because I don't think he's going to swing," said Gassner, who pitched in seven games for York last season before he earned a contract to pitch for the Boston Red Sox Double-A affiliate in Portland. "For the most part, it's going to be difficult to throw strikes. And it's going to be difficult for the umpire to get down that low to make the call."
Growing up in Fort Wayne, Ind.
A radio personality in Tampa, Fla., he hasn't played baseball since he was a child. Before this week, his career included performing R-rated stand-up comedy and making public appearances at strip clubs. He admits that before meeting his current girlfriend, it had been 10 years since he dated a woman that was not a stripper. He has appeared on "The Tyra Banks Show" and said he missed his booked appearance on "The Jerry Springer Show" because of canceled flights on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.
The phrase "Dwarfy Style" is tattooed across his stomach.
But he doesn't pause when asked what he wants to be called.
"Just call me Dave," he said. "I'm not little, I'm short. There's a difference."
Revolution owner Peter Kirk watched Tuesday's workout from behind the cage as a crowd of about 30 fans stood in a misting rain. Kirk is not ready to commit to signing Flood for the regular season. Flood remains a non-roster invite to camp.
"All we're trying to do is gather data," Kirk said, "afterward we can step back and talk about the next step."
Former St. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck helped build upon his legend as a maverick promoter when he hired 3-foot-7 Eddie Gaedel to pinch-hit in 1951. Gaedel walked on four pitches, and Major League Baseball stepped in to prevent Veeck from repeating the spectacle.
His son, Mike Veeck, who owns and operates five minor-league teams, believes a little person can succeed in baseball.
In online message boards, Revolution fans have called the move a joke, a circus. They've labeled their own team a "laughingstock."
"I've heard all that garbage too," Veeck said, noting the time he hired Ila Border, a female, to pitch for the St. Paul Saints in 1997. "Fans have a right to their opinions, but what they sometimes forget is the operator of the team has a right to an opinion too."
The big question remains, should Flood earn a spot on the team? That's a subject few people want to touch, including the Revolution's front office.
"If it's spring training, it's fine," Gassner said. "When it comes to the regular season, probably not. The thing is they're going to take a roster spot away from another player who has worked his way up as a professional."