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Wednesday, Mar 01, 2017


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Observations on Wally Pipp’s Wikipedia Entry

Cap'n Brendan

Baseball season is upon us, with spring training games starting over the weekend and the World Baseball Classic right around the corner. In honor of that, today’s blog post is about baseball. Or, more specifically, baseball player Wally Pipp. There will probably be several more of these over the course of the summer. It’s nice having a wheelhouse I can dip into when writers’ block otherwise strikes.

Earlier today I was working on something completely unrelated, which led me to Pipp’s entry on Wikipedia. You might remember Pipp as the Yankees first baseman who lost his job to Lou Gehrig in 1925 – Gehrig went on to set an MLB record by appearing in 2,130 consecutive games, while Pipp was relegated to being most famously known as a footnote. That his name can be used as a verb for losing your job to someone better should tell you all you need to about the rest of his career.

But throughout Pipp’s Wikipedia entry are scattered a number of tidbits of varying interest. Here are my five favorites:

  1. For six years, Pipp had a teammate on the Yankees named Home Run Baker. Sure his birth name was Frank Baker, but as “the original home run king of the majors” he was given the way-cooler nickname. Despite the moniker, his career high for home runs in a season was 12, and his career mark just 96. Do you know who else hit 96 career home runs? John Mabry, that’s who. (Brendan, isn’t this post about Wally Pipp?) Have you ever Wikipedia’d before? THIS IS HOW IT WORKS. Still want more? Pipp also had a career high of 12 home runs in a season. Why didn’t we call him Home Run Pipp?
  2. After he was released before his age-36 season, Pipp signed with an independent league and made more in one mostly washed-up year than he had in 15 MLB seasons. He’d twice in his career fought to acquire a percentage of the purchase price paid by one team to another for his services, and lost. How did it take until 1976 for free agency to become a thing?
  3. Pipp’s professional baseball debut came with a team called the Kalamazoo Celery Champs. That’s a real team name, albeit only one so real as something can be without its own Wikipedia entry. My internet search for more thorough information revealed a whole bunch of Wally Pipp bios and a random blog post of the funniest baseball team names. I (and you) can now thank Wally Pipp for the knowledge that there was once a team called the Walla Walla Walla Wallans!
  4. During Pipp’s tenure with the Yankees, the team was owned by a guy named Tillingham L’Hommedieu Huston. That’s a real person’s name, and unlike the Celery Champs he actually has the validation of existing in Wikipedia. First off, the son’bitch went by Cap. If my name was as epic as Tillingham L’Hommedieu, you bet your ass I’d make everyone say that. Every time. Especially at Starbucks. I’d love to see how that showed up on cups. Plus his wife’s name was Lena Belle. “Hi, we’re Tillinghast L’Hommedieu and Lena Belle Huston.” I’d say that all the time. People would be like “shut up Cap, we know.” And I’d be like “THAT’S ‘SHUT UP TILLINGHAM L’HOMMEDIEU WE KNOW’ TO YOU, RAPSCALLION!”
  5. Nobody can agree why Pipp was benched – even his own kids. I suppose this sort of fuzzy memory is to be expected from someone who had so many concussions in his life, the NFL is actively working on a time travel device to get him onto the Browns’ roster next year. See, Pipp got hit in the head with a hockey puck at a young age and had headaches for the rest of his life. In his own recounting of why he was benched, at various times he blamed taking two aspirin for a headache and being given the day off, and getting hit in the head by a pitch (which actually happened a month after Gehrig supplanted him). A wilder story suggests that he wasn’t even at the game because he was gambling at the horse track. One son claimed Pipp told the manager to start Gehrig over him because he knew Gehrig had a future with the team, while he did not.

The most likely cause, though, is simply that he’d been playing like crap. Pipp was batting below the Mendoza line for weeks, and the Yankees were struggling. Manager Miller Huggins benched two other players alongside Pipp that fateful day. Neither of them ceded a lineup spot to an eventual hall of famer, but it takes two to tango and there’s no arguing that when Gehrig got his chance, he grabbed on and never let go.

Anyway, I thought that was interesting. Hopefully you did too! Congratulations to last night’s winners Appalachian Tendencies and Sarah Ann Scores Faster than Ken. Both teams head into Geek Bowl with strong momentum! On the other end, Gooch Busters picked up the next-to-last place victory despite finishing third-to-last, on account of a forfeit from the bar staff playing as Wolverines!

That’s all I have for you this week. See many of you at Geek Bowl this weekend, and the rest of you next Wednesday!

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