Lipman pike A recent NY Times article about Mark Twain's support of baseball contained passing reference to the first Jewish baseball player, Lipman Pike.


From the article, "Mark Twain, Baseball Fan, Had an Eye for a Short-Stop":

River rafting and billiards, sure. But who knew that the creator of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn was a devotee of baseball?

The answer: Lots of folks, in his time.

Mark Twain
contributes liberally to the support of the Hartford base ball club,”
The Sporting News asserted in 1886, adding wryly, "Mark ’s reputation
as a first-class humorist is now firmly established." …

“When professional baseball was the new thing in town,” the baseball
historian John Thorn said, “local and national celebrities, from
authors to actresses, from mayors to magnates, lined up in public
support, much as they do today, to see and to be seen. The celebrities
lent tone and luster to the game.”

Being seen certainly suited Twain, but at the local ball grounds, he
had another purpose, too. Under the heading “Red Stockings vs. Blue” he
made notes during at least one of those Boston-Hartford contests,
filling a sheet of his stationery that is now part of the Mark Twain
Project at the University of California at Berkeley.

His notations include basics — behind the bat, left field, safe hit —
that suggest a crash course in baseball lingo, much as Twain had
absorbed steamboat pilots’ vernacular. A few plays are described, some
with references to the Dark Blues players Lipman Pike and Tom Carey. That Pike and Carey played in different years suggests that the jottings were made over several seasons.


Pike was, of course, the first "professional" baseball player, and the first known Jewish player. His Wikipedia entry is here. His International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame bio is here.

Collectibles relating to Pike are scarce, with a very few cards available — mostly Jewish baseball card specialty issues.

Does anyone have Pike items in their collection? Has anyone ever seen his autograph? I content it is likely the rarest of all Jewish baseball signatures.