Schreiber: In baseball’s infancy, one of the best players was a Jew from Brooklyn

From Jay Schreiber at on December 9, 2019, with mention of SABR member John Thorn:

In the beginning — or make that in the beginning of baseball — there was Lipman Pike. He hailed from a big Jewish family in Brooklyn and in the years following the Civil War, as baseball became a major American sport, he became one of its early stars. He was not just one of the first Jewish players, but one of the first players, period. And he was a key actor as the game evolved in significant ways during the 1860s and 1870s.

It was in 1879 that a photograph was taken of Pike and his teammates in Springfield, Mass., and 140 years later, a copy of that photograph was sold for $9,000 at an online auction run by the Robert Edwards Auction House.

Pike was not big by today’s standards. He stood just 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighed about 160 pounds. But by the measurements of baseball in the second half of the 19th century, he was considered a slugger. He died at age 48 in 1893. It wasn’t until 40 years later, in the early 1930’s, that the mighty Hank Greenberg emerged as the first full-fledged Jewish baseball star.


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Originally published: December 10, 2019. Last Updated: December 10, 2019.