Lipman Pike: America's First Home Run King

Sleeping Bear Press  2010

 
Lipman Pike is a biography of the first Jewish professional baseball player. Lip, as he was called, was born in 1845 to parents who immigrated to America from Holland. His father owned a haberdashery store in Brooklyn. Lip and his brother Boaz loved to run around the store getting items for the customers as if they were running the bases in a game of baseball. They say Lip was so fast he could outrun a racehorse. The boys loved watching the men play “Base” as they called the game of baseball then. They would even practice batting and throwing the baseball when their parents weren’t watching because Jewish boys didn’t play baseball. It was considered childish, according to their mother. In 1858, after Lip’s bar mitzvah, he was invited to join the junior base team and play his first amateur match. On his first up at bat, he hit a home run. When Lip turned 21 he moved to Philadelphia to play for the Athletics and got paid $20 a week. Lip was the team’s best player, but when the team learned that he was the only one paid and he was a Jew they voted him off the team. He then joined the New Jersey Irvingtons and then the New York Mutuals, when they formed professional teams, and eventually became captain of the Troy Haymakers. At the end of the story there is a section called: “The Rest Is History,” which tells about the day in 1873, when Lip outran a racehorse in a hundred-yard sprint. He retired from baseball and opened up a haberdashery store like his father. He died in 1893 after playing baseball for about 40 years. The Author’s Note tells about the beginning of baseball and a little of its history. The illustrations are large, appealing, sepia toned images with oversized heads that look like caricatures. They help to impart the look and feel of the historical era. Richard Michelson’s research shows in the interesting details he has included of the time period. A child does not have to be a baseball fan to learn a lot from this enjoyable book. For ages 6–10.


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