Thursday, February 28, 2008

George Pipgras

A right-handed starting pitcher and umpire in the major leagues was born on December 20, 1899. He died on: October 19, 1986.

George Pipgras spent most of his playing career as a member of the celebrated New York Yankees. After having a couple cups of coffee (getting called up to the big club and then returning to their minor league affiliate) he broke into the American League on the legendary 1927 Yankee team.

In 1928, Pigpras posted a 24-wins 13-losses season, while leading the league in games started (38) and innings pitched (300 2/3).

He started and won Game 3 of the 1932 World Series vs. the Chicago Cubs. In that game both Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig belted two homers, including Babe's renowned "Called Shot."

He became an umpire from 1938-1946. In researching the history of umpires I am beginning to see a pattern of former players having no trouble being assigned to the big leagues as umpires. Not much in the way of paying dues the way today's ump has to. Although, if Rich Aurilia wants to ump after his playing days are over I suppose he won't have to spend too much time in the minors learning his craft. He might get to sidestep all that was considered necessary for the umpire who has no background of playing baseball, especially at the major league level.

He served in World War 1 with the 25th Army Engineers.

On Opening Day with the Boston Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, April 20, 1939, Pipgras worked as the third base umpire. The historic box score included the names of future Hall of Famers: Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Jimmy Foxx, Lefty Grove, Red Ruffing and prized rookie Ted Williams. Pipgras was the starting pitcher for the Yanks' 1929 Opening Day game in which the opposing pitcher for Boston that day was Red Ruffing. According to historians, the unusual feat set by Pipgras is a case unique in major league history.

(thanks again to Wikipedia for the factoids)

Kevin Marquez