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The strange, short career of Dan Tipple

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It’s not every day that a career ends after two straight complete games.

New York Yankees Summer Workouts Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Dan Tipple did not have a very long Major League Baseball career. The Yankees signed him in 1915, he made just three appearances, and then never played for them or any other MLB team again.

He had been spotted and signed to a sizeable for the time deal by Yankees co-owner Tillinghast L’Hommedieu Huston. The other co-owner, Jacob Ruppert, would use his lack of success as a reason against Huston whenever he wanted to get involved in player personnel moves.

All of that makes it sound like Tipple was a colossal flop, which he very well may have been. However, if you look at his performances, they don’t seem that bad?

After impressing in 1915 with the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association, Huston and the Yankees signed Tipple. He made his debut on September 18th of that year, allowing one unearned run out of the bullpen in a 4-1 loss to the White Sox.

Seven days later, he was given the ball to start in a game against the Indians. Cleveland was not a particularly good team in 1915, finishing seventh in the AL. However, they had some solid bats, including league home run leader Braggo Roth. He led the league with seven, because again, 1915.

Tipple allowed one of those seven to Roth, but held Cleveland to just one run on four hits in a complete game win. Of the hitters in their lineup with above average OPS that season, he combined to hold them to a 2-for-17 day. While it wasn’t his MLB debut, it was his debut start. According to game score, less than 50 players have had better first career starts on the mound.

He did not make another appearance for two weeks, but the Yankees sent him back out for another start on October 6th in the penultimate game of the season. This start wasn’t as successful, as the Red Sox scored four runs on nine hits. However, only one of those runs were credited against Tipple, as the Yankees made three errors. He also went the distance, throwing another complete game. Even though it wasn’t as good as his first start, allowing four runs against the eventual Word Series champions isn’t bad. Babe Ruth was still a pitcher, but he was also quite the hitter, and he mustered just one hit off Tipple.

For whatever reason, none of that was good enough for Tipple to get another chance. It’s unclear exactly when the Yankees severed ties with him, but he never played another Major League game for them or anyone else again. He is one of just 39 people who have two complete games despite having played in three or fewer games. He finished his career having thrown 19 innings. At 0.95, he is tied for the best ever ERA of people who have thrown at least 19 innings.

Tipple joined the Baltimore Orioles of the International League the next season. He continued playing for minor league teams all the way through 1928, when he was 38. He had some seemingly decent numbers in that time, but no team ever gave him another shot in the majors.

Letting a rookie throw complete games in his first two starts is a very 1915 thing. So is them being pretty solid but the pitcher never getting another chance anywhere.

Sources

https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/t/tipplda01.shtml

“The Colonel and Hug: The Partnership that Transformed the New York Yankees” by Steve Steinberg, Lyle Spatz