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Greg Bird (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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Wally Pipp

Some Yankees fans might balk at the idea of Pipp being on this list. Wally did indeed play 12 games for Detroit in 1913. But he spent the rest of that season in the minors and all of the next year. When the Yankees picked him up prior to the 1915 season, he was still a baby bomber.

The Yankees promoted him before Spring Training ended and Wally went on to spend eleven years with the club (1915-1925). Pipp hit .282/.343/.414 with 80 home runs over those seasons. But while those home runs may not seem like many, the numbers from those years have to be viewed in context.

For instance, Wally led the American League in home runs twice during his Yankees career: 12 in 1916 and 9 in 1917. And he led the league in triples in 1924 with 19.

But while other players have honors such as All-Star appearances and Gold Gloves to bolster their resumes, Pipp was ineligible for both; the first ASG was played in 1933 and Rawlings did not start giving out GG’s until the late ’50s.

Worthy of Honor

Nevertheless, Wally finished with 1,577 hits for the Yanks and 833 RBI’s. He also helped lead the Yankees to their first three pennants from 1921-23, usually batting clean-up behind Ruth. They lost the first two and won the third, and here again, Pipp loses points.

His postseason numbers did not help win championships, and that has weight. Wally’s postseason totals are a mere .224/.288/.254. The team probably wins more with a better first basemen. And they would get one.

We will get to him later, perhaps last, but it is Wally’s leaving that has left a mark on the game. Finding the true story behind it is a bit byzantine, from the commonly accepted beaning story to one told by Pipp’s son in which Wally tells manager Miller Huggins to let Lou Gehrig play in his stead.

Whatever the truth of the story, the metaphor and attendant moral are the same. Pipp was a very good player who missed one day of work. That one day became forever as Wally was permanently replaced and was shipped off to Cincinnati for his remaining three years in baseball.

Now, whenever a player loses his job to a better player because he missed a day, he is called getting Wally Pipped.

Wally finished his career with a 31.4 WAR. Yet a man with a worse WAR finished above him. And it is with a man named Bill that we get to our first great nickname.