Monday, March 7, 2016

Take the day off!

Broadcasting is a funny business, and when I was in it, I knew plenty of people who would never take vacation days or even sick days unless they were totally incapacitated or thoroughly pixilated, just because they didn't want their temporary replacement to be their full-time successor.

For this reason, when the CBS This Morning show came on the other day, and there sat the always-engaging Soledad O'Brien in the chair normally held down by Gayle King, I hoped that Gayle knew who Wally Pipp was.

Not that Gayle doesn't do a fine job on her own, hosting along with Norah O'Donnell and "Cholly" Rose. I like Gayle just fine, and I'm even willing to put up with her overadulation of the Oprah because, hey, whaddya gonna do? Everyone has an idol.

And I've liked Soledad O'Brien since her days on the beginning of MSNBC, when she was the connection between people who watched TV but were just learning about computers, and people who knew all about computers and were eager to learn to interface with actual human beings.  She then went on to host the weekend "Today" Show and then the morning show on CNN, and has since established a media company of her own, part of which operates the National Geographic Bee, for those young people who know the difference between Kuala Lumpur and a koala ranch.

So who's this Wally Pipp, you ask?  He's a man whose name became synonymous with wishing you hadn't taken a day off.  He was the first baseman for the New York Yankees, which was once a successful baseball club.  In 1925, Pipp showed up for a game against the Senators, suffering from a headache and a batting average of .181 over the previous three weeks. Manager Miller Huggins gave Pipp two aspirin and the day off, saying, "Wally, take the day off. We'll try that kid Gehrig at first today and get you back in there tomorrow."

"That kid Gehrig" - Lou Gehrig - played the next 2,130 games at first base for the Yankees, a record not broken until 1995 by "that Ripken kid" of the Orioles.

Wally Pipp went on to play with Cincinnati the next season, never dreaming that his name was going to become a verb.

Watch out, Gayle King, or Soledad might Wally Pipp you!

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