It ain’t what they call you.
it’s what you answer to.
– W.C. Fields
I overheard a guy who was into sports
explain to his girlfriend the other day,
“Wally Pipp is buried here –
he played first base for the Yankees.
The manager benched him in June of 1925,
supposedly for just one game.
Lou Gehrig replaced him and played so well
Pipp never got back in the lineup.”
Last week, a fella by my grave
was talking to someone and made it sound
like I got hit by a car or walked
in front of a train when he said—
“Don’t ever get yourself Pipped—
that’s what happened to this guy.”
A month ago, two old gals
who said they drank too much
at their reunion started laughing,
then belted out a song –
“Pip, pip, hurray, pip, pip, hurray!”
I recognized the voice of Mrs. Tight,
our English teacher in high school.
She was able to find my headstone
and started talking to herself –
“Is Pipp an adjective, a verb or a noun?
can it be either the subject or the object?”
A woman who taught an acting class
at Michigan State University brought
a group of students here and lectured them,
“I want you all to know this man was not
related to Charles Dickens, nor did he
star in the movie ‘Great Expectations.’ ”
A month ago an older couple paused
as they were walking by.
He told his lady I died of the Pipps –
that made it sound like I had
a bad case of the clap or else
some kind of awful cancer.
In the best one so far, three gals
started arguing about Top Ten hits
in the 1970s – one of them was positive
I was a black guy who sang
with Gladys Knight and the Pips.
She stopped talking long enough
to notice how I spelled my name
and finally changed her mind.
I don’t like to get too worked up
about some of the things I’ve heard
and try to remember that if Gehrig
hadn’t played in 2130 straight games,
nobody would remember my name.
A teammate used to tell me,
“Wally, you got a bad case of rabbit ears.
Don’t listen to all those bench jockeys
on other clubs who always get your goat
by calling you a pipsqueak.”