I am very tall. Not Robert Wadlow or Andre the Giant tall, but I occupy 6 feet-8 inches of vertical real estate. When out in public or otherwise interacting with strangers, I often debate the merits of carrying pre-made cards to distribute the following statements:
- The weather is just fine, thank you
- No, I did not play basketball
- Yes, my parents are tall (and I have two brothers clocking in at 6’7” & 6’6”)
- Sure—I can help you reach that
I had to chuckle when Twins catcher Grayson Greiner went a bit viral this Spring Training. Despite bouncing around the majors (even within the AL Central) for a few years, fans are only now noticing his 6’6” frame crouched—RIP knee joints—behind home plate. Greiner even eclipses noted milk-guzzler Joe Mauer, who topped out at 6’5”.
This all got me curious about the lengthiest players in MLB history—guys that make the seemingly gargantuan Aaron Judge look pedestrian.
So, let’s hear it for the (tall) boys...
Believe it or not, the tallest Homo sapien to ever step between the diamond’s white lines played for the Twins—Jon Rauch (6’11”)! Never should have replaced him with Matt Capps in 2010, IMHO (grrr...).
Matching Rauch inch for inch? Sean Hjelle—he of the 25 IP cup-of-coffee with the San Francisco Giants in 2022.
From there, we have a sextet of 6’10” hurlers: Chris Young, Eric Hillman, Aaron Slegers (another Twin!), Andrew Cisco, Andrew Brackman, and—most famously—notorious slayer of avians Randy Johnson.
The 6’9” runt of the litter? Mark Hendrickson.
One of the great aspects of professional baseball is that body type is less of a prerequisite for success. Sure, a Muggsy Bogues (NBA) or Warrick Dunn (NFL) can compete in their respective arenas, but baseball players routinely look like Pablo Sandoval, David Wells, and late-career Bartolo Colon—or Jose Altuve, Ozzie Albies, and dead-ball era Willie Keeler (literally nicknamed “Wee”).
Personally, I enjoy being the height I am (not that I have much say in the matter). I’m tall enough to enjoy its benefits but also not quite at the mark that precipitates custom clothes, cars, airplane seats, beds, etc. Though Ryan Jeffers & Christian Vazquez seem poised to tag-team the big club’s catching duties, perhaps Greiner will have an opportunity to at least make a Target Field home debut in 2023. If it happens? A sure standing ovation—completely with reflexive duck—from Greiner’s fellow lanky legion.