4 Wunderkinds


Of course, there are many interesting child and teen prodigies worth mentioning in a list like this [Little Stevie Wonder had his first hit record at 13], but these four were either on my mind lately or, alternatively, brought to my attention only recently.

Michael Kearney Michael was born in 1984 and made The Guinness Book of World Records 10 years later when he became the youngest person to graduate from college. If you're no Michael Kearney at math, that means he was 10 years old! The school was the University of South Alabama. But by my way of thinking that's not even the most astounding fact. Unreal accomplishment: At only 6 months old, Michael was able to tell his pediatrician that he had "a left ear infection," and was able to read a mere 4 months after that. In his own words: "Most people, they get into school when they're 6, and they get out of school around 22, 23. That's what I'm going to do. But I just happened to be in college that entire time."

Joe Nuxhall During World War II, many professional baseball players were enlisted in the service creating a dearth that had to be filled. As a result, others got some pretty big breaks. Unreal accomplishment: When he was only 15 years-old, Joe pitched part of an inning for the Cincinnati Reds on June 10, 1944. Though he got beat up in the game and had to be taken out, Joe remains the youngest person to play in a major league game (in the modern era). In his own words: "I was pitching against seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders, kids 13 and 14 years old... All of a sudden, I look up and there's Stan Musial and the likes. It was a very scary situation."

Christopher Beale And you thought Anne Frank was the youngest author ever published.. meet Christopher Beale, the little lad from Zug, Switzerland. Unreal accomplishment: At the age of six, Christopher published a 1,500 word novella called This and Last Season's Excursions (Aultbea Publishing) (By comparison, the average published novel these days is about 75,000 words.) In his own words: "I'm not the only novelist in the family.. My daddy writes stories too, although I'm not allowed to read them yet. They're probably not as exciting as my book anyhow. I asked him once, and he said there aren't any hinnies, bats or even any green mambas in them."

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart What short-list would be complete without a mention of Mozart, who wasn't just a child prodigy, rather, he was an infant prodigy—the type of precocious toddler who probably changed his own diaper. Unreal accomplishment(s): Could play the harpsichord from the age of 3, wrote his first musical composition at the age of 6, his first symphony at the age of 8 and his first opera at the ridiculous age of 12. In his own words: "I care very little for Salzburg and not at all for the archbishop: I shit on both of them." (From a letter to his father Leopold, the man who home-schooled the prodigy.)