Excerpt: Jewish Sports Legends

The following is an excerpt from Jewish Sports Legends: The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Fifth Edition, (Nebraska, 2020) by Joseph Siegman.

Lipman “Lip” Pike

United States

Born: May 25, 1845, New York, New York

Died: October 10, 1893

By accepting $20 a week to play third base for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1866, Lip Pike became baseball’s first professional player. Other top players soon followed suit, and within three years the first all-pro team was born in Cincinnati.

In 1871 the National Association—the first professional league—was founded, and Pike played and managed the NA Troy Haymakers, batting .351. His five-year NA batting average was .321. From 1875 to 1881 his five-season National League average was .306, with 5 home runs, 36 doubles, 16 triples, and 88 RBIs.

Pike was also baseball’s first home run champion. Although the exact number of his round-trippers is not known, it is recorded that he hit six homers in one game in July 1866. Primarily an outfielder, Pike played every position and batted and threw left-handed.

His career spanned 1865–87, playing, playing and managing, or managing numerous teams in six leagues. Among his teams were the Brooklyn Atlantics, Philadelphia Athletics, Lord Baltimores, Troy Haymakers, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Cincinnati Red Stockings, Hartford Nutmegs, and the original New York Mets.

Pike’s athletic career was not confined to baseball. Known for his remarkable speed, he ran competitively, often running for cash purses in challenge races. He once raced and beat a famous trotting horse named Clarence in a 100-yard sprint (in 10 seconds flat), winning a $250 prize.

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