May 21, 1927|
|Died: October 10, 1998
|April 24, 1954 for the Chicago Cubs|
Last MLB appearance
|July 17, 1962 for the Chicago Cubs|
|Runs batted in||17|
Elvin Walter Tappe (May 21, 1927 – October 10, 1998) was an American professional baseball player, a catcher for the Chicago Cubs from 1954 to 1962, but he was best known for being part of the Philip K. Wrigley-implemented College of Coaches in the 1961 season.
Years later, Tappe said the concept was his idea. Before the 1961 season, according to his account, he suggested that he not allow Charlie Grimm's successor as manager to bring in his own coaches, as had long been standard practice. Rather, he suggested hiring eight veterans from the Cubs organization as coaches—four in the minors and four for the Cubs—in hopes of retaining some stability during managerial changes. Wrigley liked the idea, but added a twist—one of the coaches should also be the manager. The Cubs played the entire season that year with a rotating system of coaches who would alternate as manager (the "head coach"). Tappe, who had been a Cubs' coach since 1959, was head coach for 95 games over three separate stints, while Vedie Himsl, Harry Craft and Lou Klein managed 31, 16 and 11 games respectively.
Tappe ended 1961 as head coach and began 1962 in that role. Since he notched a 42–54 record in 1961—by far the best of the four who led the club—it was generally believed that he would remain head coach as long as the Cubs were playing well. Additionally, it was obvious he was Wrigley's favorite. However, the Cubs stumbled to a 4-16 start in 1962, and he was replaced by Klein. He returned to his backup catcher role for what would be his last year as a full-time player. He remained with the Cubs as a coach and scout.
Tappe (whose surname rhymed with "happy") was the son of Walter Emil Tappe and Marie Sophia (née Bronstine) Tappe. He had a twin brother, Melvin Tappe (1927–1992), who was a minor league pitcher.
Tappe, who ran a sporting goods store after retiring from baseball, died in his birthplace of Quincy, Illinois, at age 71.
- Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside. ISBN 0-7432-8491-7.
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