Marv Rotblatt, 85; was one of baseball’s shortest pitchers

Marv Rotblatt appeared in 35 games for the White Sox.
Associated Press/file 1951
Marv Rotblatt appeared in 35 games for the White Sox.

NEW YORK — At 5 feet 6 inches, Marv Rotblatt was one of Major League Baseball’s shortest pitchers, and his career was short as well. A left-hander used mostly in relief, he pitched in 35 games for the Chicago White Sox over three seasons in the late 1940s and early ’50s.

But his name lives on in an all-day party at a small liberal arts college in Minnesota.

Mr. Rotblatt, who died Tuesday at 85 in Evanston, Ill., was celebrated at the annual softball game at Carleton College that was cited by Sports Illustrated in 1997 as the “longest intramural event” in the nation.


Carleton students played a 100-inning, one-day, nine-hour softball game they christened Rotblatt in spring 1967, to mark the 100th anniversary of the arrival on campus of the college’s first class. The game was an outgrowth of the intramural Marvin J. Rotblatt Memorial Softball League — named, according to college lore, by a student who had a vintage Rotblatt trading card.

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Each year since 1967, students at Carleton, located in Northfield, about 40 miles south of Minneapolis, have added an inning to their marathon. Rotblatt, which begins at dawn, somehow is completed by nightfall, and at last count amounted to a 147-inning game. Players hit and field using one hand; they are required to hold a cup, with beer a preferred libation, in the other.

Mr. Rotblatt was well into his second career, as an insurance salesman, and had never heard of Carleton when he became a campus celebrity and was invited to Rotblatt games.

Marvin Joseph Rotblatt was born in Chicago, where his father, a Jewish immigrant from Poland, owned a lamp business.

After pitching for the University of Illinois, Mr. Rotblatt appeared in seven games for the White Sox in 1948, two in 1949, and 26 in 1951. He won four games and lost three, and then entered the Army.


Mr. Rotblatt lived in Skokie, Ill.

He was listed at 5-7 or 5-8, but he said he had exaggerated his height.

His contemporaries Bobby Shantz, an outstanding pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and the Yankees, and Connie Marerro, who pitched for the Washington Senators and at 102 is Major League Baseball’s oldest living former player, may have been a shade shorter than Mr. Rotblatt’s 5-6.