Simply Baseball Notebook's Forgotten In Time

Wally Pipp

Hilton Smith
Larry Doby
Seattle Pilots
1994 Expos
Ray Chapman
Flashes in the Pan
Steve Blass
St. Louis Browns
Wally Pipp
Rocky Colavito
Dom DiMaggio
Ellis Valentine
Bill Buckner
Jim Bottomley
The Federal League
Stuart 'Slim' Jones
Billy Hamilton
Ed Delahanty
Eddie Waitkus
George Davis
Riggs Stephenson
1920 White Sox
Luke Easter
Herb Washington
Eddie Robinson
Bobby Mathews
Jimmy Ryan
A.G. Spalding
"Dummy" Hoy
Albert Belle
Jack Quinn
Ken Williams
Al Oliver
Jack Taylor
Fred Lindstrom
Jim Thorpe


Detroit Tigers 1913 
New York Yankees 1915-1925 
Cincinnati Reds 1926-1928

OK, Wally Pipp has hardly been "forgotten in time." His name remains a prevalent part of, not only baseball, but all of sports' lore. Anytime an athlete loses his/her job due to injury, they are "Pipped." Wally Pipp, however, was much more than an unfortunate sap that lost his job to Lou Gehrig, he was a great player and mainstay in the Yankee lineup for over a decade. That part of the story has been "forgotten in time."

Walter Clement Pipp was born on February 17, 1893 in Chicago, IL. He broke into the big leagues as a 20 year old in 1913 with the Detroit Tigers, but struggled, hitting only .161 in 12 games. After spending a year in the minors, Pipp was sold to the Yankees on January 7, 1915.

In 1915, his first full big league season, Pipp hit .246 with four home runs. In 1916, he improved, belting 12 home runs, best in the American League during the dead-ball era. He repeated as AL home run king in 1917, hitting nine home runs, but batted just .244.

Pipp hit .304 in 1918, but injuries limited him to 91 games. Now an established big leaguer and one of the best defensive first baseman of his time, Pipp anchored the Yankees infield. He hit .296 in 1921 and the Yanks reached their first World Series, but were defeated by the cross-town Giants led by legendary manager John McGraw in 8 games (the World Series was a best-of-eight contest until 1922).

In 1922 Pipp hit a career high .329 as the Yankees again reached the Fall Classic, and again lost to the Giants, this time in five games. In 1923 Pipp hit .304 and drove in 108 runs as the Yankees headed to the World Series for a third straight showdown versus the Giants. This time the Yanks prevailed in six games and captured their first World Championship.

Pipp had another strong season in 1924, hitting .295 with a career high 114 RBI and led the AL with 19 triples, but it would be his last as a regular with the Yankees.

On June 2, 1925 Wally Pipp had a headache. He approached manager Miller Huggins and told him of his predicament. Huggins decided to insert young prospect Lou Gehrig in his place. Pipp's career with the Yankees was effectively over.

Following the 1925, season the Yankees sold the 32 year old Pipp to the Cincinnati Reds for $7,500. He had a productive 1926 season in Cincinnati, hitting .291 and driving in 99 runs. His production dipped, however, in 1927 as he hit .260 with 41 RBI in 122 games. He rebounded in 1928, hitting .283, but played in just 95 games in what would be his final season. 
Pipp retired with a .281 average, 997 RBI, and 1941 hits in 15 seasons. While those may not be Hall of Fame type numbers, they do reflect that Wally Pipp was more than just an ordinary, journeyman type ball player - more like a 1920s version of Keith Hernandez.

Wally Pipp died on January 11, 1965 in Grand Rapids, MI.  He was less than a month from his 72 birthday.  Pipp was obviously no joke as a player, not the punch line he has been made out to be today. There is no shame in losing your job to Lou Gehrig, and there should be no shame in being compared to Wally Pipp.
-David Zingler, June 2002


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