Baltimore chop

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The Baltimore Chop was a hitting technique used by batters during Major League Baseball's dead-ball era which was an important element of John McGraw's "Inside baseball." Popularized by and named after the original Baltimore Orioles, the batter would intentionally hit the ball downward to the hard ground in front of home plate, resulting in a high bounce which allowed the batter to reach first base safely before the opposing team could field it.

To give the ball the maximum bounce, Baltimore groundskeeper Tom Murphy not only packed the dirt tightly around home plate, but mixed it with hard clay. Speedy Orioles players like John McGraw, Joe Kelley, Steve Brodie, and Wee Willie Keeler — who once legged out a double off a Baltimore chop — were the practitioners and perfectors of the hit.

The technique is rarely employed in modern baseball, but sometimes results accidentally when a batter swings over the ball and it catches the bat. The result is sometimes more pronounced in those stadiums with artificial turf. The technique still sees use in softball.


  • Excerpt from the book Where They Ain't - The Fabled Life And Untimely Death Of The Original Baltimore Orioles by Burt Solomon at

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