The Obit For David Drapp

Drapp never stopped loving the game

Derek Barichello
08/24/2011, 10:01 pm

David Drapp never outgrew his love for baseball.

Even at 78 years old, his wife Angela remembers children knocking on her door looking for him.

"They asked if David could come out and play, like he was a kid in the neighborhood," she said. "He always played catch or played ball with them."

The former minor league baseball player died at his Streator home Monday, but his wife and adult children light up with smiles when sharing stories of David's passion for the childhood game.

"Didn't he always have a glove in his trunk?" laughed his daughter Leslie as her brothers Darren and Kirk nodded.

Drapp, a utility infielder, was signed out of Streator Township High School by the Washington Senators organization in 1951 and played on the same team as Hall of Famer Harmon Killebrew.

He played Class D ball in the Florida State League for the Orlando CBs, before he left the game to serve in the Army during the Korean War.

When he returned in 1955, he hit .315 for Orlando and was promoted to the Charlotte Hornets. It was there he played with Killebrew and finished second only to him in runs batted in.

His daughter Leslie remembers stories from her aunts about meeting Killebrew and Drapp bringing the 500-Home Run Club member to Streator for a visit.

"They said Killebrew was a really big hit with the ladies,"Leslie said.

Despite a solid season, Drapp was not selected for the big league club and decided to take a job at Owens glass factory.

"Back then, major league baseball didn't pay as much as it does now," Kirk explained. "A good factory job was better pay."

In 1957, he married Alice Berta and settled in Streator where he started his family; however, he never gave up the game he loved.

Drapp played semi-professional baseball for area teams, including the now defunct Streator Reds. When semi-pro ball phased out, Drapp played fast and slow pitch softball on countless local teams.

Former Times-Press sports writer Harold Olson even featured Drapp in an article for being the oldest softball player in the Streator league at 55 — noting he always kept his batting average above .500.

Moving from Ohio and then to Georgia, he continued playing softball until he was 72 years old, retiring from the Senior Professional League Georgia Peaches.

"I put a stop to his sliding at 70,"said Angela, who Drapp married in 1984.

Along with his love for baseball, one constant was his loyalty to Streator. Drapp visited his hometown every six weeks with the excuse "he needed a haircut," until he finally moved back a year ago.

"He'd make visits to play in some friendly euchre games at the American Legion," said Bob Cipalo, who was Drapp's childhood friend. "He was a very nice guy and very competitive. We played softball together and he was always the kind of guy you'd want on your team."

Now, his family agrees Drapp is in heaven, probably something similar to Florida, with his baseball glove in hand ready to play.

He never forgot that.