Filling in the Blanks— H. Pipp

1 Nov

Baseball Reference lists H. Pipp with the 1887 Big Rapids team in the Northern Michigan League.  Five years later he became a minor sensation in Chicago.

In January of 1892 Cap Anson announced that he had found a new second baseman for the Chicago Colts.  The signing of Henry L. Pipp of Kalkaska, Michigan was described by The Sporting Life:

“The good Captain dug up his latest phenom in the wilds of Michigan…Pipp is 26 years old, 6 ft. 2 in. high 205 pounds heavy, and as quick as a cat.”

The Chicago Daily News called Pipp “Anson’s great find.”

The Chicago Tribune was less impressed, and concerned that the untested Pipp might replace the popular Fred Pfeffer (sent to Louisville after a dispute with Anson) at second base:  “That would be a dangerous thing to do.  Second base is key to an infield as Anson learned to his cost in 1890,” (the Colts finished in second place with Bob Glenalvin at second after Pfeffer jumped to the Players League).

In March Pipp went to Hot Springs, Arkansas with the Colts, but the reviews were not good.  New York Giants shortstop “Shorty” Fuller said:

“Anson’s team (can’t win) unless he gets a second baseman.  He must have a man to take Pfeffer’s place that can play ball.  That man Pipp won’t do.  We played against him at Hot Springs and he is slower than molasses in January.”

Henry Pipp

With much less fanfare than his signing, Pipp was quietly let go before the season began, the Tribune simply said, “Pipp could not play the position.”

Henry Pipp returned to Michigan.

He owned a hardware store, received a U.S. patent in 1917 for a “Holding device” he invented, and played baseball for more than 20 years in Michigan based leagues.

There is another “Pipp” listed on the 1887 Big Rapids roster—it is most likely Pipp’s brother William.

William left Michigan in the early 1890s for Chicago.  His son, Henry’s nephew, became famous as the man replaced as New York Yankees first baseman by Lou GehrigWally Pipp.

Henry Pipp died in Benton Harbor, Michigan on February 16, 1936.

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