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According to the list on baseball-reference.com, there have been 17 major league ballplayers nicknamed "Rip." In a few cases, "Rip" became so much a part of their names that the ones given by their parents were virtually forgotten. Case in point: outfielder "Rip" Repulski, who came up with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953. You had to do some digging to find out his real first name was Eldon.

There was an 18th "Rip," but he was better known as "Ripper," and he may have been the best of them all, which is why he's number one on the list:

James Anthony Collins was a slow-blooming first baseman who began playing professional baseball in 1923, but didn't join the St. Louis Cardinals until 1931, after he had not one, but two monster seasons for the Rochester Red Wings of the International League. He totaled 78 home runs in those two seasons, and in 1930 his batting average was .388, and he drove in 180 runs, still the league record.

As a Cardinal rookie, Collins was hitting .301 early in August when he broke an ankle and was lost for the season. He batted over .300 during three of his next four seasons, leading the National League in home runs (35) in 1934. But in 1936, he lost his job to Johnny Mize, and in 1937 found himself playing for the Chicago Cubs at the age of 33.

After two years with the Cubs, Collins went to the West Coast to play for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League. He batted well over .300 two seasons in a row, made a brief return to the majors in 1941 with Pittsburgh, then spent the World War Two years as player-manager of the Albany team in the Eastern League. Later he managed the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League, Hartford in the Eastern League, and San Antonio in the Texas League.

Collins needed a nickname to separate himself in people's minds from Jimmy Collins, a famous third baseman at the turn of the century. The most popular story of how the second Jimmy Collins was dubbed "Ripper" involves one of his hits that supposedly slammed a baseball against a nail that was sticking out of a fence. The nail ripped the cover off the ball, and Collins became known as "The Ripper."

One version of this story has the event occurring while Collins was a young boy in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Another version has it happening in either 1925 or '26 while Collins was playing for the Johnstown Johnnies of the Middle Atlantic League. This version, as passed along by sports columnist Paul Pinckney in the Auburn (New York) Citizen-Advertiser, originated with a Rochester man named Henry W. Clune, and it offered more details. Clune said the ball was impaled on the points of three 10-penny nails, and was knocked loose by Roxey Roach, the Johnstown manager, who hit it with a bat. Roach then handed the ball to Collins, and called him "Jimmy, the Ripper."

This would be a more believable story if Roxey Roach actually had been the manager of the Johnstown team during the two years Collins played for the Johnnies, but that job belonged to Norm McNeil in 1925 and 1926. So I thought maybe Roach managed one of the other teams in the league, but that was not the case.

Bill James in his "New Historical Baseball Abstract," in listing Collins as the 100th best first baseman in major league history, clearly doesn't believe that story about Collins hitting a baseball that landed on a nail, and suggests the first baseman was a hell-raiser, especially when he was a member of the St. Louis Cardinals' famous "Gashouse Gang." James believe Collins was named after the next "Rip" Collins on my list, a pitcher who was a notorious drinker and party guy.

I think James is wrong. Collins was known as "Ripper" long before he joined the Cardinals. The Rochester newspapers used his nickname in 1929 when Collins played for the local Red Wings. Collins also lived for awhile in Rochester, and, according to sports columnist Jack Burgess of the Rochester Times-Union (November 22, 1934), the ballplayer was listed in the local telephone book as "James Rip Collins."

So maybe the nail story is true, or maybe Collins was known for swinging the bat hard, or, in baseball terms, taking a good rip at the ball. Collins, a switch hitter, generated a lot of power for a man who was five-feet-nine and weighed about 165 pounds.

As for the "Rip" Collins, the party guy, his given name was Harry Warren Collins, an American League pitcher who won 108 games in his 11-season major league career. He was a 24-year-old rookie with the New York Yankees in 1920, after spending the previous year with Dallas of the Texas League. Collins won 14 games for the Yankees, but two years later was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

After one season with Boston, he spent five seasons with Detroit, dropped down to the minors in 1928, winning 17 games for Toronto of the International League, then returned to the majors to spend three seasons with the St. Louis Browns.

It was once said that pitcher Rip Collins had a million dollars worth of talent and 25 cents worth of enthusiasm. He was a party animal from Texas who said he started drinking beer when he was six years old. He said he got his nickname from a pre-Prohibition whiskey called Ripa, but he probably meant Old Ripy Whisky, made by T. B. Ripy's distillery, the company that developed the bourbon that came to be known as Wild Turkey. (You may have caught the two different spellings of whiskey. I noticed that many years ago people spelled it without an E, that that's how it appeared on labels of Old Ripy.)

Here are some of baseball's other "Rippers," "Rips," "Ripples," and Riddles":

Jack Clark, an outfielder-first baseman spent 18 years in the majors (1975-92), mostly with the San Francisco Giants, but also with the St. Louis Cardinals. His nickname, "Jack the Ripper," reportedly was given him for his hitting ability ... or his tendency to rip people with seething comments. Clark hit 340 home runs, and led the National League three times in drawing walks, giving him a high on-base percentage for a lifetime .267 hitter.
Outfielder Eldon Repulski was, I'm sure, called "Rip" as a play on his last name, and could be listed on my alliteration page. Since my mother's maiden name was Smolinski, my family took an interest in Repulski and third baseman Ray Jablonski, both rookies with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1953. Repulski put in four good seasons with the Cardinals, was an all-star in 1956, and his reward was being traded to the Philadelphia Phillies.
The nickname "Rip" for pitcher Truett Sewell reportedly was his wife's idea, but she didn't say why. The cousin of Luke and Joe Sewell briefly pitched for Detroit in 1932, then joined the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1938, emerging as a star during the World War Two years, twice winning 21 games. He's famous for his eephus pitch, a preview of slow-pitch softball. Amazingly, only one player ever hit a home run off the eephus pitch  — Ted Williams in the 1946 All-Star game.
Raymond Radcliff was nicknamed "Rip" by his father, though the reason isn't clear. It could have been the boy's tendency to oversleep (like Rip Van Winkle) or the way he ripped his clothes. The outfielder-first baseman also could rip the ball, batting .311 in a 10-season major league career (1934-43), most of it with the Chicago White Sox. He didn't hit for power, and he seldom struck out. His major league career ended in 1943 when he joined the U. S. Navy.
John Henry Vowinkel couldn't avoid being called "Rip." The Oswego, New York, native was 20 years old when he pitched for Cincinnati in 1905, winning three games, losing three. He spent the rest of his baseball career in the minors, mostly with Buffalo of the Eastern League. plagued by problems with his pitching arm. After he retired he settled down in his hometown, and became one of Oswego's leading bowlers.
His interesting given name was Zerah Zequiel Hagerman, a six-feet-two-inch pitcher with several nicknames, including "Zee Zee," "Zip," "Rip" and "Rip Zip." He turned pro in 1908 and won 30 games for Topeka of the Western Association, went to Havana and won 14 more games in a Cuban league. He spent 1909 with the Chicago White Sox, but won only four games. After success in the minors, he returned to the majors in 1914 and pitched two full seasons for Cleveland.
Glen Russell was tagged "Rip" after he fell and ripped his clothes while running to escape a dust storm in Ponca City, Texas, where he played his first minor league season. The infielder was a back-up for the Chicago Cubs (1939-42) and Boston Red Sox (1946-47). His career highlight was the 1946 World Series — two singles in two at bats. A .245 hitter in the majors, he batted .305 in the minors. He hit .342 for the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League in 1945.
Why Wirt Virgin Cannell was nicknamed "Rip" is a mystery. He came out of Tufts University in 1904 and joined the Boston Beaneaters (Braves). He played every game in 1905, but apparently the Braves wanted an outfielder who batted better than .247 and did not make 23 errors. The Philadelphia Phillies gave him a spring training look-see in 1911 after he'd batted .355 in the Tri-State League and reportedly made only one outfield error.
Alva Mitchell Williams was a catcher-first baseman who filled in mostly for Washington (1912-16), sandwiching those five seasons with one each for the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians. He was nicknamed "Rip," but known mostly as Alva during his seasons in Buffalo, which already had another "Rip" on the team (Vowinkel, above). "Rip' Williams was a popular name. Other who had it included a band leader and a singing cowboy.
Versatile George Van Haltren, who began his long major league career in 1887, should probably be in the Hall of Fame, thanks to his 2,544 hits and .312 lifetime batting average. He played mostly for the New York Giants. On August 17, 1900, the Chicago Tribune reported: "Some cruel fan, regardless of George Van Haltren's tenderness as to his age, called him, "Rip Van Haltren." The player was 34 years old at the time, and the nickname stuck from then on.
Pitcher Warren Gary Coleman was widely known as "Rip" during his 11-year professional baseball career, which included five seasons in the major leagues, with the New York Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Baltimore Orioles. He had just seven wins, 25 losses. While pitching for the Buffalo Bisons (1957-58) it was reported his nickname went back to high school in Troy, NY, when he played first base and patterned himself after "Ripper" Collins, aka "Rip."
Floyd Clark Wheeler did some pitching for Pittsburgh and the Chicago Cubs (1921-24), mostly in relief, and winning just four games. He was most successful with Wichita Falls of the Texas League, where, in 1923, he stopped Ike Boone's hitting streak at 35 games. (Boone batted .402 that season.) The pitcher was one of two players nicknamed "Rip" Wheeler. The other was George Wheeler, a minor league catcher who was active several years earlier.
Charles Dawson "Charlie" Ripple came out of Wake Forest University to spend parts of three seasons (1944-46) with the Philadelphia Phillies, appearing in 11 games, winning one and losing one. He returned to the minors and retired in 1951. His best season was in 1945 when he won 17 games (against six losses) for Utica of the Eastern League. Ripple stood six-feet-two, weighed about 220 pounds, had a blazing fast ball, but often couldn't find the strike zone.

James Ripple was an outfielder, mostly for the New York Giants. He showed promise in his second season (1937) when he hit .317, but it was downhill from there – except for a few weeks in 1940 after Ripple was traded to Cincinnati. His .307 average in 32 games helped the Reds win the pennant. Then Ripple turned into Mr. October and hit .333 in World Series. The Reds won the Series, but Ripple's days of glory were over.
Raymond Rippelmeyer was a two-sports athlete at Southeast Missouri State University. He was drafted by the New York Knicks of the NBA, but also was drafted by the U S. Army. After he was discharged, he chose baseball, pitched two years for the San Diego Padres then of the Pacific Coast League before joining the Washington Senators. The six-foot-three-inch right-hander appeared in 18 games and had a 1-2 won-lost record.
 
Elmer Riddle was a pitcher from Columbus, GA. He hung around the majors for 10 seasons, eight of them with Cincinnati, two with Pittsburgh, taking 1946 off to nurse a sore arm. He had two terrific years — 1941 when he was 19-4 with the Reds, including 11 in a row, and 1943 when he was 21-11. Despite chalking up 40 wins in those two seasons, he had only 25 victories in his other eight seasons, and 12 of those came in 1947 with the Pirates.
Johnny Riddle, a catcher, was the older brother of Elmer, but a native of Clinton, SC. Johnny had had a professional baseball career that spanned 22 seasons — 1927-48 —mostly in the minor leagues. He spent time with Cincinnati and Pittsburgh where he and his brother were teammates. He ended his career with the Pirates] when he was 42 years old. Also on that team was pitcher Rip Sewell, who was 41 years old, making them the oldest battery in the majors.
Dennis Riddleberger was a left-handed pitcher with the Washington Senators (1970-71) and Cleveland Indians (1972). He won four games, lost four. Wayne Terwilliger, a coach with the Senators at the time, said in his book, "Terwilliger Bunts One," that there was one batter who couldn't hit Riddleberger's slow curve — Boog Powell. " I doubt if Powell ever hit a fair ball of Denny." Unfortunately for Riddleberger, there was only one Boog Powell in the majors.
Pitcher Dorsey L. Riddlemoser was shelled in his only major league game, with Washington of the National League in 1899. In two innings, he gave up seven hits and two bases on balls. My favorite thing about Riddlemoser is his minor league resume: the Williamsport Demorest Bicycle Boys, Allentown Peanuts and Meriden Silverites. He quit young, became a janitor in Frederick, MD, and lost a son, Dorsey Jr., in World War Two.
 

There are other "Rips" on the baseball-reference.com list, including the Ripken brothers, Cal and Billy, but, to me, they don't count. The others include Richard Frank “Rip” Wade, Arthur Garfield “Rip” Ragan, Reeve Stewart “Rip” McKay,, Richard Daniel “Rip” Conway, and Raymond Willis “Rip” Jordan, none of whom are likely to be recalled by anyone but friends, relatives and a few teammates.

Also on that list of "Rips" was Ralph Austin Savidge, a pitcher who checked in with Cincinnati in 1908 long enough to work 21 innings, including one complete game (a loss), and returned the next season to make one appearance, giving up 10 hits, three walks, and 12 runs in four innings.

And why was Savidge on this particular page? Because his nickname — so it says — was "The Human Ripcord."

This was the early 1900s. I guess parachutes were around in those days. People used to jump from balloons. So ripcord (or rip cord) was probably part of the language, either for the cord that was pulled to open a parachute, or to control the hot air inside a balloon.

But what, pray tell, does that have to do with baseball? I'm making a guess here, and it's strictly that, and it's based on a story that appeared in May, 1908. I found this version of it:

Syracuse Herald, May 3, 1908
Sporting Editor MacCollum of the Wilkes-Barre Record sprung this daisy the other day.

Ralph Savidge, native of Berwick, Pa., and a pitcher now for the Memphis Southern league baseball club, believes he has mastered the latest wrinkle in eccentric deliveries and one that will prove more effective in the attempt to fool the batter than either the so-called spitball or the new knuckle curve.

Savidge has introduced the fingernail ball, so called because it is pitched with the nails of the thumb and first three fingers penetrating the leather sphere. The fingernail ball is thrown with all the force possible, but the Southern pitcher has mastered it so that it floats slowly toward the plate and breaks fast as it passes the batter.

Savidge has practiced the fingernail curve for two years, but has not used it in championship games until this year. The ball breaks in different directions at the command of the pitcher.

There was at least one similar story every year. The only thing different about this one is there seemed to be some truth to it — as Savidge had a 20-win season for Memphis. And when he went to Cincinnati early that fall, he pitched well in those 21 innings, giving up 18 hits and six earned runs. (Note: The expression "championship games" referred to league games, those that counted in the standings.)

Except for his pitiful four-inning effort to the Reds in 1909, Savidge was effective that season with Montreal of the Eastern League, though his won-lost record (11-15) was not impressive. However, his earned run average was 2.87, and he gave up only 217 hits in 260 innings, walking only 50 batters. A year later, with Rochester of the same league, he had a 13-12 record, an earned run average of 2.96, and allowed fewer hits (201) than innings pitched (225).

But there was no return to the major leagues, and after the 1911 season with Montgomery of the Southern Association, Savidge retired. He was 32.

Back to the nickname. I believe people likened his fingernail ball to a balloon or a parachute, and since it came from his hand, he was the human ripcord. At least, that's my take.

Whatever, it must have been weird watching a floater coming from by a guy who was six-feet-two, and weighed more than 200 pounds. Especially since he must have relied on his fast ball earlier in his career. (He chalked up 216 strike outs in 1907 when he pitched for Jacksonville.)

It says in Wikipedia that Savidge put together a streak of 67 consecutive scoreless innings while pitching for Memphis in 1908. If so, that puts him in the discussion of who had the longest such streak in minor league history. A pitcher named Irvin "Kaiser" Wilhelm put together a 59-inning streak the season before, then went up to the major leagues, but when he returned three years later, he pitched shutout ball for his first 13 innings. It didn't matter what he did in the majors. It was argued Wilhelm had set a new record at 72 consecutive scoreless innings — in the minors.

Enter those who argued on behalf of unclassified minor leagues, such as the Southern Idaho League where future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson pitched in 1907 for a team from Weiser (pronounced "weezer"). Johnson had a consecutive scoreless streak of 77 innings, and he did it weeks before Wilhelm was throwing goose eggs for Birmingham of the Southern Association.

Few people care one way or the other, though for guys who never quite made it in the majors, it's a nice consolation prize to stake a claim to a record. Any record. Except right now this particular record belongs to a guy who may have been the best pitcher who ever lived.

For Savidge, he put together another impressive scoreless innings streak in 1909 while pitching for Montreal — 43 innings. This is another indication his losing record that season was undeserved.

Don Savidge, son of "The Human Ripcord," also was a pitcher, making three appearances with the Washington Senators in 1929. He pitched six innings, gave up 12 hits and seven runs, with no wins or losses. He'd had three seasons of minor league experience, and went back to the minors afterward, but there are no statistics available. (He is not to be confused with Don Savage, a utility player for the New York Yankees during World War Two.)

 
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