Schechter: George Pipgras, two half-careers in baseball

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on February 16, 2017:

“I am as proud of my record as an umpire,” George Pipgras told historian Larry Gerlach, “as my achievements as a player. . . . I am very proud to have been an umpire.” That’s a forthright and remarkable declaration from a man who played on the legendary 1927 New York Yankees and went undefeated in three World Series starts.

Born in Iowa 11 days before the end of the 1800s, George William Pipgras was one of six children, three of whom pitched professionally. Younger brothers Fred and Ed had lengthy minor league careers; Fred won 25 games in the minors one year, and Ed appeared in five games with the 1932 Brooklyn Dodgers. George was just 17 when he enlisted in the Army, spending 18 months with the 60th Engineers in combat in Europe. By 1933, he was the last World War I veteran still playing in the Majors.

A 6-foot, 2-inch, 185-pound right-hander, Pipgras could always throw hard but battled wildness for a long time. He squandered one early opportunity by walking 15 batters in just five innings. In 1922, after posting a 19–9 record in the minors, he was traded by the Red Sox to the Yankees that winter. He spent the next two seasons languishing on the bench, pitching a combined 48 2/3 innings, walking 43 batters, and winning one game.

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Originally published: February 16, 2017. Last Updated: February 16, 2017.