The Afternoon Shift – March 23

Wally Pipp

Maybe Joey MacDonald simply refuses to be Wally Pipped. That — not to mention Chris Osgood’s ongoing recovery from surgery — might explain all the yo-yoing he’s done between Detroit and Grand Rapids of late.

Baseball buffs know Pipp, a Grand Rapids native, as the New York Yankees first baseman whose absence from the lineup on June 2, 1925 opened the door for 22-year-old Lou Gehrig to earn the first start and second game of what became his famous ironman streak of 2,130 consecutive games played (eventually broken by Cal Ripken Jr. in 1995).

Re-signed as the Griffins’ presumed No. 1 goalie last summer, MacDonald has not appeared in a game for Grand Rapids since Jan. 22…and counting, after yet another recall to the Wings today. Despite two assignments to the Griffins over the last nine days, he has totaled only one full practice (March 15) and two morning skates (March 16 and 23) before twice being re-summoned to the NHL.

In MacDonald’s absence, 24-year-old Jordan Pearce has taken the starter’s reins in a tight grip, starting 24 of the last 25 games — including 17 straight — and posting a 14-4-1-4 record with one shutout, a 2.72 GAA and a 0.912 save percentage. Having led the Griffins from seventh to third place in less than three weeks, there’s no guarantee he’ll have to cede his starter’s role once — or if — MacDonald ever returns to Grand Rapids for an actual game.

MacDonald really has more in common with Gehrig than Pipp, though, as he owns a slew of franchise records including his own ironman streaks from the Griffins’ 2004-05 season, when he started 24 consecutive games and appeared in 31 straight. And his current shutout streak of over 94 minutes as a Red Wing proves without a doubt that he can excel at his sport’s highest level.

Pipp, for the record, was no slouch either, logging 15 major league seasons with the Yankees, Tigers and Reds, winning a World Series in 1923, and twice leading the American League in home runs. Pipp died in 1965 at the age of 71 and is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery at the corner of Alger and Kalamazoo in southeast Grand Rapids.

Today’s Griffins links:

AHL/opponent links:

Alumni news and notes:

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