PIPGRAS, George (1899-1986)
Posted By: Karon Velau (email)
Date: 12/18/2018 at 12:27:47
(December 20, 1899 – October 19, 1986)
[Des Moines Tribune, Des Moines, IA]
Pitcher for ’27 Yanks dies in Gainesville
George Pipgras played on the same team as Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig and won three World Series games.
by George Wilkens, Tribune Staff Writer
Inverness – George Pipgras of Inverness, one of three surviving members of the 1927 New York Yankees, a team that included baseball greats Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, died Sunday at a Gainesville hospital at age 86. A right-hander with a career record of 102 wins and 73 losses, Pipgras pitched for the Yankees from 1923-1933 and in 1928 led the American League in victories (24), games started (38) and innings pitched (300.2). During his years with the Yankees, he won all three of his World Series appearances: 1927, 1928, and 1932. He ended his baseball career in 1935 with the Boston Red Sox.
…Pipgrass was attracted to Citrus County in 1939 because of hunting and fishing interests, and he moved to Inverness from St. Petersburg 42 years ago. He later worked as a scout for the Boston Red Sox and 11 years as an American League umpire. After retirement, Pipgras occasionally watched televised All-Star and World Series games, but said he preferred football. His health had been failing since 1983, when he was diagnosed as having cancer and subsequently suffered a collapsed lung, according to his wife, Mattie Mae Cooper. She said he was under a doctor’s care at their home since December and was hospitalized locally from Oct 4 until Tuesday, when he was transferred to the Veterans Administration hospital in Gainesville, where he died.
A native of Ida Grove, Iowa, Pipgrass was a member of the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame and the New York Yankees Alumni Association. Jim Ogle, director of the association of former Yankees, Monday said Pipgras had been in poor health recently. His death leaves only two surviving members of the 1927 team: shortstop Mark Koenig and infielder Ray Morehart. The ’27 team with its famous “Murderers’ Row, is considered by many as the greatest team in baseball history. Pipgras agreed, “That was the greatest team ever put together,” he said in a January 1983 interview with the Tribune. Survivors include Pipgras’ wife, Mattie Mae Cooper Pipgrass of Inverness; a daughter, Le Morn Simpson of Inverness; and a stepson, Thomas C. Dixson of Jacksonville. Services are scheduled for 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Inverness Chapel of Hooper Funeral Homes.
Pipgras was born in Ida Grove, Iowa and served in World War I with the 25th Army Engineers. He started his major league career with the Yankees in the 1923 season after being acquired from the Red Sox, making 17 appearances in his first two years. After returning to the minor leagues for two more years, he earned a place in the starting rotation in 1927, posting a 10–3 record for the team still considered by many to be the greatest ever, and winning Game 2 of the 1927 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1928 he led AL pitchers in wins with a 24–13 record, and also in games started (38) and innings pitched (300-2/3), while finishing second in strikeouts (139); he followed up with another Game 2 victory in the 1928 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals as New York swept the NL champions for the second straight year. He was 18–12 as the Yankees slipped to second place in 1929, and 15–15 in 1930 with an AL-leading 3 shutouts. After a 7–6 season in 1931, he bounced back with a 16–7 mark for the 1932 AL champions, and again won his World Series start in Game 3 as the Yankees swept the Chicago Cubs. In that game, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig each hit a pair of home runs, including Ruth's renowned "Called Shot." In May 1933, Pipgras' contract was sold back to the Red Sox, and he was 9–8 for the team that year before making a handful of appearances in 1934 and 1935. In an eleven-season career, he posted a 102–73 record with 714 strikeouts and a 4.09 earned run average in 1488-1/3 innings.
In 1938 Pipgras joined the American League umpiring staff. On Opening Day at on April 20, 1939, Pipgras worked as the third base umpire during a Red Sox-Yankees contest. The historic box score included the names of future Hall of famers Joe Cronin, Bill Dickey, Joe DiMaggio, Bobby Doerr, Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Red Ruffing, and prize rookie Ted Williams as well. Pipgras was the starting pitcher for the Yankees in 1929's Opening Day, and his opponent for the Red Sox that day was Ruffing. According to historians, the unusual feat set by Pipgras is a case unique in major league history. He went on to umpire in the 1944 World Series, as well as the 1940 All Star Game; he was the home plate umpire for Dick Fowler's no-Hitter on September 9, 1945. He also worked as a scout for the Red Sox. Pipgras died in Gainesville, Florida at the age of 86. He is survived by his wife Mattie Mae.
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