Richard “Chopper” Knorowski

Rich “Chopper” Knorowski began his thirty-five year softball career at St. Pascals where he played second base for his grade school CYO team. He continued playing softball during high school. In 1963 he formed the Chantels and played third base. They competed in the Shabona Park League for three seasons from 1963 to 1965. In 1966, Rich and some friends, including Bob Dinkelman (HOF) formed the 69ers. They were managed by Roy Kindt (HOF) and won the Shabona Park League. They also played in Clarendon Park’s “B” League and played at Kosciusko Park. His softball career was put on hold in 1967 when he was called to serve his country. He is a Vietnam veteran and is a recipient of the Purple Heart and was awarded the Army Commendation Medal for Bravery. He was honorably discharged in 1969. Back from the service, the 69ers merged with the Active Screw to form the Lyons 45s. His playing career changed when he was asked to pitch. The 45s competed at Clarendon Park (A League), at Portage Park and at James Park in Evanston. Rich’s pitching and great defense helped the 45s win the Portage Park League six of seven years. They played for the championship at James Park and were successful at Clarendon. They were a mainstay in the Andy Frain Tournaments and the City Metro Tournaments, taking second place in 1977. They also won the Elk Grove Village Tournament in 1976. Along with John Straley (HOF) and Greg Burzynski (HOF), they won the Racine, Wisconsin Tournament from 1973 to 1977. Rich then played for the American Rivet Sobies in 1979, the Playboys in 1980, the Jerry Levatino Stones in 1981 and 1982. In 1983, Rich and Bob Dinkelman formed the Bally 45s (later the Bud 45s). Rich pitched and managed this team. They played in the inaugural season at Mt. Prospect and competed at Portage Park. With Rich as the principal pitcher, the 45s won a division title at Mt. Prospect, won the Chicago Metro title, placed fourth in the USSSA Nationals, and won the Ed Kelly Tournament at River Park in Chicago. He also pitched for ten years and won many championships with Second City, a team that played at Hiawatha and Oriole Parks. Over his career, he was a consistent hitter and a tough defensive player. He won seventy-percent of the games he pitched. In 2009, Chopper felt the competitive juices flowing when he went to watch the Elk Grove Village 50-and-Older League. He joined the league and continues to play Monday nights from late April to September. His team, Code Blue, went 18-0 to win the championship in 2011. Rich retired from the Illinois Department of Transportation in 2002 after thirty-two years of service. He and his wife, Susan, live in Bloomingdale, Illinois. They have three children – Julie, Michael, and Amy.