Harry's brief history, for those who don't know it, all occurred with the Chicago White Sox between 1976 and 1980. He signed in 1976, impressed in the minors in 1978, and made his major league debut later that season. In 1979 he was named starting shortstop after a nice spring training, but he lost his job two weeks into the season and only played 26 games at the major league level. Chappas batted .160 over another 26 games in 1980, and never saw the majors again.
With a lifetime batting line of .245/.307/.283 over 72 games and a SB success rate (28.5%) that makes Willy Taveras look legendary, it's really no surprise that Chappas didn't stick around, even if his name was awesome. However, cry not for him, as he also got to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated. You see, Chappas was really short, and so White Sox team owner Bill Veeck (he of the Eddie Gaedel stunt) decided to play his height up. Before Chappas' major league debut in late 1978, Harry Caray came out with a tape measure to check Chappas' height, and came up with 5'3". This made him an inch shorter than Kansas City Royals Fred Patek, and a sensation with the White Sox faithful (or a related note, I love obscure hometown heroes, like Lou Merloni for the Y2K era Red Sox, whom I keep almost player collecting).
Now, had I known all this back in 1996, Chappas probably would have been my favorite player. I was always the shortest kid in little league, and loved playing the middle infield (though my position was second base), so it's a natural fit. Since I had no Chappas to look up and was a major Braves fan in the mid 90's, my middle infield idol of choice became Rafael Belliard. Not too shabby, but at 5'6", a bit too tall for my tastes.
Thank again Troll for making me aware of this guy, as it was fun to do a little research and discover a nice little story. I'll leave you with a Bill Veeck quote I found as I wandered the internet, which is totally unrelated to Chappas, but really awesome. It reads:
"All I ever said is that you can draw more people with a losing team, plus bread and circuses, than with a losing team and a long, still silence."
So true. Nationals management, take note.
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