IBL Mourns the loss of Bob Hopper

The Intercounty Baseball League (IBL) is sad to announce the passing of former pitcher Bob Hopper.

Bob, a pitcher for the Kitchener Panthers from 1967 to 1969, compiled a 4-3 won-lost record and 3.02 ERA in 18 appearances over his three seasons. Joining the Panthers at age 39, he pitched 62 2/3 innings, allowing only 54 hits, 22 walks and striking out 50.

In his second season in 1968, he recorded a 1-1, won-lost record and had a 0.00 ERA in five appearances and 17 innings pitched with 16 strikeouts. He was mainly a reliever and was nicknamed “Hopper the Stopper” in an era prior to baseball recording saves.

A native of Detroit, Hopper was transferred by his employer, Sears Canada, to Kitchener in 1967. Following his retirement from Sears in 1983, he wintered in Florida and worked for the Toronto Blue Jays as a spring training attendant. He also threw batting practice for the team during spring training for a few years.

Bob passed away in North Bay, Ont. on Sept. 26th at the age of 93. He is survived by his daughter Sharon and son Randy and was predeceased by his wife Lynn.

 “Bob was a very unassuming guy. You would never know he was a key relief pitcher for the Panthers when I played,’’ recalled Kitchener teammate Paul Knight. “When he came in to relieve the starter in a very close, tense game, Bob never seemed nervous or unsettled whatsoever. And he was not a huge physical presence on the mound, but he sure could put out an opposition rally. Hence the name Hopper the Stopper.

“In the dugout or the dressing room, Bob was more on the quiet side. I believe he had that quiet, inner confidence that allowed him to come into a game and get the job done. He was a very likeable guy, a wonderful teammate, and a skilled reliever.

“I believe it was a knuckleball he used to throw which used to often drop straight down to get hitters out. And then sometimes, it would just float it in like a butterfly and batters would try to swat it and miss. Was fun to watch the frustration from the opposition batters. Everyone once in a while he would throw a fastball which probably seemed like 100 mph to the batter after all those knuckleballs.’’