Feast of St. Pipp the Displaced

Wally Pipp made the mistake of not being a generational talent.

Today, we learn about and learn from three essential characters in baseball’s unwieldy canon.

Pipp the Displaced

Life: As someone named R.J. Anderson has noted in these pages, Wally Pipp was a more-than-serviceable first baseman for the Yankees for 10 years, accumulating 35.1 WAR from 1915 to 1924. He’s considerably more well known, of course, for being replaced by Iron Man Lou Gehrig on June 2, 1925 and effectively losing his place with the New York team.

From Pipp we learn that, sometimes, there are other people who are way, way, way, way more talented than us.


The Italian expression che sarĂ 
does not literally describe,
but is certainly applicable,
to the circumstances
surrounding your career
starting in June of 1925.
On the bright side of it all,
you got to live for three years
in that great American city, Cincinnati,
birthplace to professional baseball
and popular boy band 98 Degrees.


Roger Craig, Patron Saint of Heroic Nonsense

Life: An original New York Met, Craig was also the coach of the successful San Francisco teams of the late 1980s, including the pennant-winning 1989 Giants. In the spring of 1986, he introduced the expression “Humm-baby” to Giant fans, who embraced the phrase for reasons which, to this date, are unknown and unknowable.


As coach of the late-80s Giants,
you initiated perhaps the most
elaborate Dadaist prank ever
when your non-sensical utterance
became the rally cry
for one of America’s
most cultured cities.
You may or may not
have been a talented coach,
but this is very clearly
beside the point.


Williamson the Great and Also Frail

Life: Among pitchers with 400-plus career innings, Williamson is 11th all-time with a 10.45 K/9; however, owing to a number of injuries, he failed to reach even as many as 40 innings between years five and nine of his career.


Over a nine-year career
you averaged something like
six or nine innings per annum
and sustained injuries to your arm
that scientists didn’t even know existed.
When healthy, you threw a slidepiece
that fewer than forty or so people
in the world could actually hit.
That’s fewer than American presidents!

Carson Cistulli has published a book of aphorisms called Spirited Ejaculations of a New Enthusiast.

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I just found this for the first time, beautiful.