You may know that Wally Pipp’s 1925 headache opened the door for Lou Gehrig to begin his streak of 2,130 consecutive games played. What many don’t know is that Pipp, the long-established Yankees first baseman, scouted Gehrig when the latter was starring at Columbia University and suggested the team offer him a contract. He also helped Gehrig with some of the finer points of playing in the big leagues, an effort that would eventually cost Pipp his job.
Now, an important piece of Pipp’s career is on the auction block.
His family has consigned the gold pocket watch presented by the team after they captured the first of their 23 World Series titles in 1923. It’s expected to sell for more than $50,000 when Heritage Auctions wraps up its Platinum Night Auction, set to run through February 22 and 23.
The14k gold Gruen Verithin Pentagon watch is still attached to a 14-inch chain and pen knife as Pipp wore it. I
In February 2014, Heritage sold the same type of watch issued to Babe Ruth. It sold for $717,000.
’s watch is identical in design, with a miniature scene of a pitcher, hitter and catcher, and a ball in flight. Framing the scene are the words, “Yankees, World’s Champions 1923.” The rear case pops open to reveal further engraving, “Presented by Baseball Commissioner to Walter C. Pipp.” The maker’s mark and serial number as well as some scratched notations from jeweler’s servicing are also present.
The watch was handed out to players in lieu of the standard championship ring that became the norm in 1927.
Pipp had a stellar season in 1923, leading the American League in RBI with 114 and speeding around the bases to the tune of 19 triples. He wasn’t expected to play in the 1923 World Series after injuring his right ankle while stepping off a train in Boston late in the season. Gehrig, recently promoted, played in the season’s final four games. Pipp did recover in time, though, batting 20 times with five hits as the Yankees beat the Giants in six games.