Norman J. Roppelt, Champion Duckpin Bowler and Master of the Baltimore Chop, Dies at Age 97

Norman J. Roppelt in 1967

The Sun – Norman J. Roppelt Sr., a champion duckpin bowler and softball player whose mastery of the Baltimore chop earned him membership in the Maryland Oldtimers Fastpitch Softball Association’s Hall of Fame, died Jan. 16 of pneumonia at Hilton Head Hospital in Hilton Head, S.C.  The former longtime Rosedale resident was 97. “Norman Roppelt, a 19-year-old Highland roller, is putting a thorn in the side of many of Baltimore’s most accomplished duckpin veterans,” reported The Sun in a 1935 article. The day he was scheduled to bowl in a 1950 tournament at the Southway Bowling Centre at South Charles and Hamburg streets, his wife gave birth to their daughter, Dale. “Norman went to the tournament and won $175,” wrote his granddaughter. Mr. Roppelt was inducted into the Oldtimers Fastpitch Softball Association’s Hall of Fame in 1967. “A tall third baseman with a good arm, Roppelt is credited with perfecting the Baltimore Chop in softball — a tactic from the late 19th/early 20th century baseball in which the batter would intentionally hit the ball into the hard ground in front of home plate, resulting in a high bounce which allowed the batter to reach base safely before the opposing team could field it,” according to his Hall of Fame profile.

Pour out a Natty Boh for ol’ Norman. A legendary champion hailing from the Charm City. They don’t make em like him anymore. Rarely can you find the kind of athlete who can flip the switch like he did. Bo Jackson has NOTHING on my man Norm. Takes that extra something to go from chucking skeeballs at tiny pins to chopping softballs to the moon for single after single. And he was the cream of the crop at both. Just something you don’t see these days in a pussified world. Bunch of one sport Nancies nowadays. In the softball hall of fame and a huge snub in the duckpins hall of fame. Incredible athlete for 97 years. So here’s to you Norman. I know the next time some squid in the 8 hole chops an infield single in my beer league, I’ll be thinking of you. RIP.


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