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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Ray Rippelmeyer, Called In - Playing Days

The starter gave up six runs without getting out of the first inning. Called in to simply take up time was Ray Rippelmeyer.

It was April 14, 1962, the third game into the new Washington Senators' second season. Rippelmeyer did mostly what he was called in to do.

Though he gave up a hit that let two of the starters' runners to score, Rippelmeyer got through 5.2 innings of relief, giving up six hits, but no earned runs.

It was also Rippelmeyer's major league debut.

Rippelmeyer went on to get into 18 games that year for the Senators, picking up one win to two losses. He also posted a 5.49 ERA. It would be Rippelmeyer's only season in the majors out of 11 as a pro.

Rippelmeyer, though, would go on to a long post-playing career, as a coach in both the minors and the majors, most notably as pitching coach for the Phillies and Steve Carlton during much of the 1970s.

Rippelmeyer's career in baseball began in 1954, signed by the Braves as an amateur free agent out of Southern Illinois University.

Rippelmeyer played that first season largely at class-B Evansville. He went 16-5, with a 2.91 ERA. He also got one look at AAA Toledo. He played the next year largely at AA Atlanta, going 9-11, with a 4.35 ERA.

He also played those seasons while still studying and playing at Missouri State College, having transferred there from Southern Illinois. But he didn't play baseball there, he played basketball, The Southeast Missourian wrote.

He even got a pro contract to play with the Knicks, The Missourian wrote. But Rippelmeyer put both his baseball career and his potential basketball career, on hold to join the Army.

Rippelmeyer returned to AAA for 1957, at Wichita. Going into 1958, Rippelmeyer's play had gotten the attention of Braves brass, The Milwaukee Sentinel wrote, noting Rippelmeyer was "highly regarded."

He split that year between AA Atlanta and AAA Wichita, going 15-11, with a 3.36 ERA between them. With the big league Braves on their way to another World Series appearance, Rippelmeyer didn't get the call up to Milwaukee.

For 1959, Rippelmeyer again split time between AA and AAA, going 14-14, with a 3.58 ERA. He earned his seventh victory with Atlanta in mid-July, with a complete game.

Rippelmeyer moved to the Reds organization in 1960 and to AAA Seattle, taken in the minor league draft. At Seattle, Rippelmeyer went 16-13, with a 2.71 ERA.

One of those losses came in early May, a 1-0 decision, to a future Hall of Famer. Rippelmeyer faced off against Tacoma's Juan Marichal, according to UPI. They both went the distance. Rippelmeyer, though, gave up the run and got the loss.

Marichal made his major league debut a few weeks later. Rippelmeyer still had a couple years to go.

Rippelmeyer did do well enough, though, to get promoted by Topps to the 1961 major league set. Topps did the same in 1962, the actual year Rippelmeyer would debut.

In 1961, Rippelmeyer, at AAA Indianapolis, went 13-8, with a 3.63 ERA. One of those wins came in late August, a five-hitter against Houston.

Then came 1962 and Rippelmeyer's big league debut. Taken by the Senators the previous off season in the Rule 5 draft, Rippelmeyer made the Washington team, staying in the majors through July 1.

On June 1, Rippelmeyer got his only major league win. Coming in in the 11th inning, Rippelmeyer struck out one and gave up no hits over two innings, long enough for Washington to score the game-winner.

His first major league start came in his final major league game, July 1. Rippelmeyer went just 3.2 innings, giving up four earned runs.

Shortly afterward, the Senators offered Rippelmeyer back to the Reds and Rippelmeyer's big league playing career was over.

Rippelmeyer played out the year at the Reds' new AAA club in San Diego, staying there through 1965.

He then started his coaching career.

Read about Rippelmeyer's career as a coach: Ray Rippelmeyer, Those Things

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