Don Knapp – Born 15 April 1949
Baseball Australia Hall of Fame Inductee 2008
Don Knapp arrived in Australia in December of 1971 on a sponsorship agreement facilitated by key baseball supporter and businessman Kevin Parry and immediately became a transformational player on a national scale. Nobody in Western Australia had ever seen a catcher with the skills that Knapp possessed. Base stealers stopped trying to run on his strong arm and quick release. Pitchers learned to throw the ball low in the zone with runners on base because Knapp's blocking ability made passed balls almost non-existent. He was an expert at framing pitches and thus seemed to always get his pitchers a couple extra inches in the strike zone. Most importantly, if you talk to any of the pitchers who threw to Knapp, they raved about how much better he made them when he was behind the plate.
In January of 1972 Knapp went to Queensland as a member of the Western Australia state team and put his defensive and offensive skills on display for the entire country. He was rewarded for his dominant performance by winning the Helms Award. From that year onward, he was feared as both an offensive and defensive player throughout his career. The bigger the stage and the tougher the competition, the better Knapp performed!
For the next 35+ years Knapp continued to have an incredible impact on the sport at a club, state, national and international level. He was a leader, visionary and innovator as a player, coach and executive.
Below is a sample of some of Don's achievements:
- Australia Team Member: 1978 (World Championships – Italy), 1978-79 Korean National Team Tour in Australia, 1979 (Tour of Korea and Japan)
- Claxton Shield All-Star Team 1972
- Helms Award Winner 1972
- Claxton Shield Team Member (Captain) 1972-1979, 1982-1983, 1985
- WA Mickle Medal (WA-MVP Claxton Shield) 1975
- Claxton Shield Gold Glove Winner 1982
- Claxton Shield Field Manager 1984-1986
- Member of the WA Diamond Anniversary All-Star Team (1934-2008)
- WA Baseball League Outstanding Achievement Award 1985
“From the very first time I saw Don Knapp I was incredibly impressed by the ability and skills he possessed. He is one of the finest players I have had the privilege of playing both against and with. Not only was he a great hitter, he was even better behind the plate. He had the ability to bring out the best in the pitchers that threw to him by being such a great receiver and pitch caller.”
Neil Page – Baseball Australia Hall of Fame Inductee 2005.
“I have known, played and coached alongside Don Knapp for 46 years. He was a power hitting catcher with outstanding arm strength. Pitchers lined up for him to call and control their games. Don was a general on the field demanding excellence with a sense of humour. He had the respect and admiration of all members of the baseball and sporting community. He has always shown exceptional leadership skills and as a player and coach had the ability to meld a squad of players into a professional unit.”
Don Kyle – Claxton Shield Player, Australian Player and Perth Heat Manager.
“Don has been one of the best catchers to represent WA and Australia, of which he has done multiple times with distinction. He was also a great hitter and tactician. His role in steering the Perth Heat both as manager/coach and as head of the administrative side of baseball has been exemplary and a testament to his overall skills.”
Kaye Greenham – Baseball Australia Hall of Fame Inductee 2014
“Don Knapp had a major impact on the sport of baseball in Australia. His contribution extended beyond his brilliance as an elite player, teammate, and leader but also as a successful coach, mentor, and administrator when he became CEO of the Australian Baseball Federation. As a catcher, Don’s unique ability to read the game and lead a team from behind the plate was a revelation that set the standard for catchers that followed. His knowledge of opposing batters’ strengths and weaknesses was comprehensive as was his ability to extract the very best out of every pitcher that threw to him. With emotions running high and the result of the game on the line, there was no better catcher, hitter, or teammate to play with than Don Knapp.”
Murray Westphal – Claxton Shield and Australian Player 1970’s