An interview in 2022 with the former catcher
- Cleveland Indians, 1963
Professional Career Prior to 1963
Bob Lipski was born in Scranton, PA on July 7, 1938.
We don't know much about his amateur baseball career, but we do know that the Philadelphia Phillies signed him as a 19 year old on July 19, 1956.
Lipski didn't start playing in the Phillies' minor league system, however, until 1959.
That season, he played 117 games for the Phillies D league team, the Tampa Tarpons.
The following year he played in Des Moines, Iowa, where he hit .270 with seven home runs.
Lipski was promoted to the double-A Chattanooga Lookouts in 1961, then to the triple-A Buffalo Bisons in 1962.
After the '62 season, the Cleveland Indians drafted Lipski in the rule 5 draft.
It would prove to be a fortune move for him, because Cleveland would soon be calling him to the major leagues.
In the Major Leagues
Bob Lipski made his major league debut early in the 1963 season, and it came against the reigning World Series champions!
It was April 28, 1963 and the Indians were playing an afternoon game against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium.
Approximately 22,000 people were in the stands to see Cleveland's Mudcat Grant face off against Whitey Ford, who held the Indians scoreless.
In the top of the eighth Lipski was sent in to pinch hit for Indians reliever Jerry Walker.
Facing off against Hal Reniff of the Yankees, Lipski struck out looking.
He then strapped on his catcher's gear and caught Jack Curtis in the bottom of the eighth inning.
After the Indians failed to score in the ninth, the game ended.
Cleveland left New York that day and went back to Municipal Stadium, where they faced off against the Kansas City Athletics the next day.
Similar to the previous day's game, Lipski was sent in the bottom of the eighth as a defensive replacement for catcher Johnny Romano.
It was three up, three down that inning, and then Lipski's short time in the big leagues came to an end.
After the Big Leagues
A week after the game against the A's, the Indians sent Lipski back to the Philadelphia Phillies who promptly assigned him to the triple-A Arkansas Travellers.
He only hit .230 in Arkansas that year, and the next season the Phillies shipped him to the St. Louis Cardinals.
He played for the Jacksonville Suns in 1964, then early in 1965 Lipski was traded alongside Glen Hobbie to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Dick Egan.
He played 77 games for the Tigers' triple-A club, the Syracuse Chiefs, in 1965, hitting just .209.
Lipski's final season in professional baseball as a catcher was in 1966
He bounced around multiple teams that season, spending time with the Syracuse Chiefs, the York White Roses, and the Vancouver Mounties before hanging up his spikes.
After Lipski's playing career ended, he became a law enforcement officer in his home state of Pennsylvania.
He also served as the bullpen catcher for the triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre Red Barons in the early 90s.
Lastly, another interesting fact about Lipski's post-playing career is that he and his wife went to Poland shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
To deliver baseball equipment to little league teams in the newly independent Poland.
Q&A with Bob Lipski
Bob Lipski is a former professional catcher who played during a fascinating era in baseball history - the 1960s.
He has been a teammate with notable ballplayers from that timeframe, including Early Wynn, Dick Allen and Mickey Stanley.
I wrote Mr. Lipski a letter a few weeks ago with some questions about his career.
Not only did he answer my questions (which you can see below) he also signed two index cards for me.
Below are Bob Lipski's responses to my questions…
Question 1: I'm curious to know/learn about your favorite memory from your playing career. Can you tell me about that?
Answer: It was an amazing moment. Just walking onto the field at Yankee Stadium. I had an at bat there and I'll never forget it.
Question 2: As a catcher in the 1960s, what was the hardest thing about being a catcher during this time? What was the most enjoyable?
Answer: Being a catcher is physically and mentally very demanding no matter what era your (you’re) playing in. There is a lot of bumps and bruises involved.
Question 3: Who was the best pitcher you ever had the opportunity to catch, and why?
Answer: Sam McDowell. He threw very hard and it was a real challenge to handle his pitches.
That's A Wrap!
We enjoy learning about Baseball history and it is a privilege to hear from catchers who played in the past - especially those that played in the 60s!
These men often have great wisdom to share, and very interesting anecdotes (and perspectives!) about their careers as well.
We hope you found this article to be interesting. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or comments.
You can do so by going to our contact page, or by emailing scott (at) catchershome (dot) com.
Thanks for stopping by Catchers Home.