Lip Pike

  • Card series: Pioneer Portraits I: 1850-1874
  • City: Baltimore
  • Team: Canaries
  • League: National Association (NAPBBP)

Lipman Emanuel Pike (1845-1893) has many claims to fame as one of the most prodigious power hitters of early baseball. He was one of the first to be paid to play, he was a perennial field general on some of the best teams of his era, he hit some of the longest home runs in the earliest parks, he was one of the first players blacklisted, he was one of the fastest players of his time. And, if not the first, he was certainly the first Jewish player of note in the game. Pike came up in the infancy of baseball and starred for the great early clubs: The Brooklyn Atlantics, Philadelphia Athletics, NY Mutuals and the Irvington NJ nine. A solid all-around player, the southpaw even held his own at second and short. Movie-idol handsome, Lip always made his team look good. And he made a lot of teams look good. A lifelong itchy foot led Pike to change clubs as often as some players changed spikes. He never lasted more than two seasons with any franchise. In an era when home runs were scarce, Lip was one of the top sluggers. In 1883 Sporting Life documented a remarkable artifact of Pike’s power. With the demolition of Brooklyn’s old Union Grounds, the writer described the “pagoda” that had stood in right center from which rose an iron rod, bent from a ball struck by Pike and preserved as a cherished icon. Later research indicates Pike’s HR slammed that rod 40 feet above the ground and about 360 feet from home plate hard enough to bend iron – in the deadball era.

  • Pike, with eight others, was ousted by the NL owners in 1881 for suspicion of throwing games
  • Out of the game, Pike returned to his family haberdashery in NY where he perished from heart disease at age 48. His renown persisted for decades, leading to one vote in the first HOF ballot in 1936

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