Whirty: Was Lipman Pike baseball’s first Jewish star?

From SABR member Ryan Whirty at Philly.com on May 13, 2015:

When Lipman Pike suited up for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1866, he was a fresh-faced base ball (two words back then) player loaded with potential — blessed with abundant speed, fielding prowess, and slugging ability that belied his small stature.

And in 1866, the Athletics, like all of base ball at the time, were widely accepted as an amateur venture, an aggregation of congenial men playing a “gentleman’s game.”

But reality soon set in, hard. It was revealed by local newspaper magnate Col. Thomas Fitzgerald, who earlier that season had been mysteriously dismissed as the team’s president, that Pike and two other Athletics players were receiving a nominal fee on the down low to compete. In the case of Pike, a 5-foot-8 158-pounder,  he netted $20 a week.

With that revelation, Pike became one of the first openly professional base ball players in history, an event that today might seem innocuous, with modern players receiving nine-figure contracts.

Read the full article here: http://www.philly.com/philly/sports/phillies/Was_Pike_baseballs_first_Jewish_star.html

Originally published: May 15, 2015. Last Updated: May 15, 2015.