Wally Pipp

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Wally Pipp
First Baseman
Born: (1893-02-17)February 17, 1893
Chicago, Illinois
Died: January 11, 1965(1965-01-11) (aged 71)
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
June 29, 1913 for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1928 for the Cincinnati Reds
Career statistics
Batting average .281
Home runs 90
Runs batted in 998
  • Detroit Tigers (1913)
  • New York Yankees (1915–1925)
  • Cincinnati Reds (1926–1928)
Career highlights and awards

Walter Clement Pipp (February 17, 1893 – January 11, 1965) was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball, now best remembered as the man who lost his starting role to Lou Gehrig at the beginning of Gehrig's streak of 2,130 consecutive games.[1]

Major League career[edit]

After playing 12 games with the Detroit Tigers in 1913, Pipp graduated from The Catholic University of America in 1914. The Chicago-born Pipp then joined the New York Yankees for the 1915 season, and would play 136 or more games for them every season until 1925 (except 1918, when his playing was curtailed by injury), hitting .282 with a little power, even after the end of the "dead ball" era. Pipp did lead the American League with 12 home runs in 1916, and again with 9 in 1917. Pipp was the first Yankee to win a home run title. Pipp scouted and asked Miller Huggins to sign young Lou Gehrig from Columbia University, whom Pipp personally helped develop as a young first baseman.

Pipp's removal from the Yankees' starting lineup[edit]

On June 2, 1925, Pipp was removed from the Yankees' starting lineup and replaced with Gehrig. The story has become baseball legend:

In the most popular version, one supported in later accounts by Pipp himself (although he wasn't always consistent on the subject, either), Pipp arrived at Yankee Stadium one day in 1925 with a terrific headache. He asked the Yankee trainer for a couple of aspirin. Manager Miller Huggins noted the scene and said, "Wally, take the day off. We'll try that kid Gehrig at first today and get you back in there tomorrow." [2]

As Gehrig went on to play 2,130 consecutive games, Pipp did not get back in there tomorrow. He is later quoted to have said, "I took the two most expensive aspirin in history."

Other sources suggest Yankee manager Miller Huggins may have actually benched Pipp and other veterans in order to "shake up" the slumping lineup. A month later, Pipp received a skull fracture when he was hit by a practice pitch from Charlie Caldwell, an event that had also been mistakenly linked to his initial benching. Pipp was later traded to the Cincinnati Reds before the 1926 season.

Later career[edit]

Wally Pipp was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1926. He played 372 games for the Reds over the next three seasons before retiring. Pipp played in Old Timers games as a Yankee. He was later hired by Sports Illustrated as one of the magazine's first writers. His 226 sacrifices as a Yankee remain a team record.

Pipp died at age 71 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Grand Rapids.

Career statistics[edit]

1,872 6,914 1,941 311 148 90 974 997 596 551 272 38 .281 .341 .408

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Spatz, Lyle. "The Baseball Biography Project: Wally Pipp". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  2. ^ A Pipp of a Legend: The Man Who Was Benched in Favor of Iron-Horse Lou, June 29, 1987, Sports Illustrated.

External links[edit]