A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from August 20, 2019
Baltimore chop (baseball term)

The “Baltimore chop” in baseball (popularized by the Baltimore Orioles team in the 1890s) is when a batter attempts to hit the top of the baseball to drive it hard into the ground, so that it hops high in the air. The batter can then try to run safely to first base, beating the throw from an infielder. Even if the batter is out, a baserunner can advance. The “Baltimore chop” is less common in modern baseball because of improved fields and fielding, stronger pitching, and other factors.

“‘Chop’ hit” was printed in the St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch on July 28, 1896. “The Baltimore famous ‘chop’ ball” was printed in the Kansas City (MO) Journal on July 9, 1897. “Baltimore chop” was printed in the Pittsburg (PA) Press on October 3, 1897. “They have also the famous ‘Baltimore chop hit’” was printed in The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH) on August 28, 1898.


Wikipedia: Glossary of baseball
Baltimore chop
A ball hit forcefully into the ground near home plate, producing a bounce high above the head of a fielder. This gives the batter time to reach first base safely before the ball can be fielded. An important element of Baltimore Orioles coach John McGraw’s “inside baseball” strategy, the technique was popularized during Major League Baseball’s dead-ball era, during which baseball teams could not rely on the home run.

To give the maximum bounce to a Baltimore chop, Orioles groundskeeper Tom Murphy packed the dirt tightly around home plate, mixed it with hard clay and left the infield unwatered. Speedy Orioles players like John McGraw, Joe Kelley, Steve Brodie, and Willie Keeler most often practiced and perfected it.

In modern baseball, the Baltimore chop is much less common, usually resulting when a batter accidentally swings over the ball.

MLB.com
Baltimore Chop
Definition
A “Baltimore chop” is a chopper that takes a high bounce near home plate, allowing the runner to reach first safely.
Origin
The Baltimore chop came from the Orioles of the late 19th century. With runs hard to come by in the dead ball era, the Orioles hatched a plan: They instructed their groundskeeper to pack the dirt in front of home plate (legend has it he once even put down a concrete slab) so that speedsters like John McGraw and Willie Keeler could leg out infield singles.

28 July 1896, St. Louis (MO) Post-Dispatch, “Greatest Left-hander,” pg. 5, col. 1:
Quinn managed to scratch a little one just out of Meyes’ reach, a dinky, provoking ‘chop,’ hit.

9 July 1897, Kansas City (MO) Journal, “Baseball Notes,” pg. 5, col. 2:
The Baltimore famous “chop” ball is thus commented on by the Cincinnati Enquirer:  The tactics of the Baltimores in hitting balls straight down “on the floor” seems invariably successful. These balls are the hardest for infielders to handle, bounding high in the air and going over the heads of the puzzled basemen and shortstop. Sacrifice hitters ought to cultivate this latest form of hitting.

10 September 1897, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, ‘Orioles’ Narrow Squeak,” pg. 9, col. 6:
Twice Keeler reached first on chop hits.

11 September 1897, Boston (MA) Daily Globe, “Terribly Bad Umpire,” pg. 5, col. 2:
Keller made a chop hit to Stafford and appeared to beat the ball to first, the dust and darkness making it rather uncertain.

3 October 1897, Pittsburg (PA) Press, “The Last Game,” pg. 13, col. 1:
A hit at that stage would probably have won the game, and Pickering, the club swinger, pounded out a good imitation of a Baltimore chop as the ball jumped over Killen’s head and seemed safe.

22 July 1898, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), “Baseball Gossip,” pg. 3, col. 3:
Jack Doyle’s batting lamps are not burning so brightly as in the gladsome milk-and-honey days at Baltimore. Jack’s “chop” stroke at the ball seems to have lost its grip. He has completed a circuit for but few of these “chop” bounders this season.

28 August 1898, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), “All Sorts,” pg. 27, col. 3:
They have also the famous “Baltimore chop hit.” They literally “chop” at the ball when it is deliverd. They aim to hit the ball at or near the top as it passes the plate. This hit has the effect of making the ball strike the ground violently. A high bound is generally the result. It is better than a sacrifice, for if the player fouls in attempting it he is not penalized with a strike. If he hits the ball as he aims to do the bound is so high that the runner on a base can move on to the next one. If it should happen to bound over the infielder’s head it is a base hit. With a good runner at the plate a real high bound means a base hit, even if handled by an infielder. No other team is using the “chop” hit. It may be hard to learn, but some of the players who have so much difficulty in making a bunt may find the “chop” easier for them to master. With a perfect code of signals for the hit and run game, with heady base runners and the chop hit the Orioles have a slight winning percentage over other teams.

14 October 1898, Pinegrove (PA) Herald, “The National Game,” pg. 1, co. 3:
The Baltimores’ chop hits are the most tantalizing turned out by any team in the League.

22 September 1901, Philadelphia (PA) Inquirer, “In Ten Innings,” pg. 13, col. 5:
Jennings began the second inning with one of those old Baltimore chop hits.

18 May 1902, The Enquirer (Cincinnati, OH), “Baseball Gossip,” pg. 10, col. 2:
Heiny Peltz’s hit was a regular Baltimore chop. It bounded over BIlly Lauder’s head.

YouTube
MLB | Beating Out the Baltimore Chop
Crazy for Baseball
Published on Mar 22, 2017
I know, I know. None of these clips are in Baltimore. 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CitySports/Games • Tuesday, August 20, 2019 • Permalink