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Catching Up With ex-Oriole Dick Hall

Each Tuesday in The Toy Department, veteran Baltimore Sun sportswriter Mike Klingaman tracks down a former local sports figure and lets you know what's going on in his\her life in a segment called "Catching Up With ..." Let Klingaman know who you'd like him to find and click here to check out previous editions of "Catching Up With ... "

He was a tall, gangly relief pitcher with a lofty IQ and a low ERA. The Orioles’ Dick Hall could compute batting averages in his head. Most of those who faced him watched their numbers fall.

Other pitchers threw harder than Hall but few threw any smarter than the 6-foot-6 right-hander, a graduate of Swarthmore College and a cog in the Orioles’ bullpen during the club’s finest years.

In nine seasons with Baltimore, Hall won 65 games, saved 58 more and had an ERA of 2.89. He helped the Birds win a couple of World Series (1966 and 1970) and two more American League flags (1969 and 1971).

He had pinpoint control despite a herky-jerky motion that one reporter said made him look like "a drunken giraffe on roller skates."

Fans chuckled at his awkward, near-sidearm delivery, and so did the pitcher.

"People said I threw like a girl," said Hall, now 78 and living in Timonium. "Hey, as long as it worked, they could say anything they wanted."

It was an effective, if unconventional style.

"I’d release the ball real close to my body and then I’d fall to one side," Hall said. "Because I was all arms and legs, hitters said they had trouble picking the ball up because the pitch seemed to be coming out of my uniform."

One time he retired 28 consecutive batters over five appearances. Strike after strike he’d throw, mixing fastballs and sliders and routinely nipping the outside corner of the plate. Walks? Nah. Hall surrendered less than one unintentional base on balls per nine innings.

So accurate was he that in 16 seasons, Hall was charged with just one wild pitch. He also holds the honor of having won the first League Championship Series game ever played, a 4-3 Orioles victory over Minnesota in 1969.

"I’m proud of that," he said. "At my age, you remember the highlights you didn’t have time to enjoy before."

In two hitches with Baltimore (1961-66 and 1969-71) he was part of a stellar bullpen that included Stu Miller, Eddie Watt, Pete Richert and the fun-loving Moe Drabowsky.

Drabowsky’s pranks kept them loose, but Hall got his licks in too.

"Whenever a new guy came (to the bullpen), I’d eat a moth," he said. "Once, Eddie dared me to bite a 17-year locust in half. So I did it – just for the effect."

When he retired at 41, as an Oriole, Hall was the oldest player in the AL.

Married 53 years, with four children and nine grandchildren, Hall works part-time as an accountant, the career he began in 1958. He is mostly recovered from a stroke he suffered eight years ago.

"I’ve had one knee replaced and my (right) shoulder is shot – I can’t throw a ball 50 feet," he said. "But I can walk and play golf, and that’s good enough."

Twice a week, he drives to Longview Golf Course in Timonium to play with a group that includes former Orioles Billy Hunter and Ron Hansen.

"Hey , Turkey!" they’ll yell when Hall enters. That has been his moniker since 1951 when he was a rookie with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"I was in the team’s cafeteria, shoveling food in my mouth when [Pirates catcher] Joe Garagiola saw me and shouted, ‘Look at that turkey gobbler eat!’

"Well, I’ve got a long neck anyway, so the ‘Turkey’ nickname stuck."

Top photo: Ralph Robinson / Sun; Bottom photo: Paul Hutchins / Sun

Comments

Hey Mike Klingaman,
Did the 78 year old Dick Hall ever tell you he charges people for autographs?? I can't remember how much he told my dad, but it waaaay too much for 8 letters.

I have very fond memories of Dick Hall. I was 7 years old, it was 1962, and I was walking into Memorial Stadium, and who was standing there, in uniform, talking to an usher, Dick Hall. He was the biggest man I had ever seen and also my Dad's favorite player. He saw me staring at him and walked over to ask me my name. He than, after talking to me for a few minutes gave me an autograph for me and one for my Dad. From that moment on, I was a die-hard Oriole fan and to this day, the biggest Dick Hall fan. I am so glad to hear he is doing well. Thank you Mr. Hall, for all the great memories, and for taking the time to speak to a 7 year old fan.

John K.,

Did Dick Hall personally charge you for an autograph, or did you see him at an autograph show? My friend runs an autograph show in the Philadelphia area and has hired him for past shows (I might add that Mr. Hall has been nothing but a gentleman every time that he's made an appearance). The promoter sets the price based on the cost to hire him to sign autographs for 2-3 hours, travel expenses, and a profit margin for the promoter. Remember, Dick Hall is 78 years old and played in an era where ballplayers didn't earn much and thus had to supplement their income with other jobs during the offseason. So why do you feel the need to begrudge an elderly man who is trying to supplement his retirement income?

Thanks for the excellent article on Dick Hall. I'm happy to hear that he is still alive and kicking. Send him my best and thanks for the memories.

Do you know what if Geoge Zuverink (sp) is around or if Clint Courtney is?

Dick Hall was a great pitcher amongst greats. He also pitched during an era that paid little. Can you imagine want he would be worth in today's market. Better yet wouldn't it be a thrill if he was an active Oriole today. It sure would be nice to see an ERA under three again.
So what if he charges for an autograph.

I'm glad to see he's doing well. He played with my grandfather in the old Susquehanna League (semi-pro) for a season before signing his first pro contract, somewhere around 1950. My mom has a team picture at her house, it's funny to see him in the middle of the back row a full head taller than everyone else. I met him at the Susky HOF dinner a few years back, and he was a great man to talk to.

This is a really great article - made me pick up the phone and call him right away. In response to charging for autographs, perhaps this is the protective grandaughter in me but he has never and would never charge for an autograph. No, they never made tons back then but it was about the game and the memories and sure doesn't need to charge people for them now. On the flip side It's really great to hear the other comments and hear how he's impacted other people's lives, he's one of the greatest men ever and I'm so lucky that's my grandpa.

in regards to money hall has been an account or perhpas even a cpa for years so money shouldn't be amajor issue with him. if he charges someone for an autograph outside an autograph show that's weak but i would kinda of doubt hall would charge for someone "on the street". gut feeling. he was a terrific pitcher for the o's and a decent hitte for a pitcher. he started his career with pitts as an everyday player.

Dick Hall was terrific. Check him out on that 70 video when he gets the Reds out in relief of Palmer. That's when great pitching was appreciated in Baltimore.

Nice article. He was one of my "faves". Could hit, too (career B.A. was 210). How about tracking down Dave Leonhard?

Dick Hall was a coach on my American Legion team in the 80's. Always a gentleman with a great story about the game.

It was great to see this article and know that Dick Hall is doing well. I remember him best from the 1959 Salt Lake Bees. He had an incredible year--led the league in wins and era as I recall--and helped the team win a pennant. There aren't many around from that team. He was a gentleman then as well

My memories of Dick Hall besides his
excellent baseball career are personal.
I am about the same age as him and I attended a baseball try-out camp in Cambridge, Md held by the Dodgers and he was an antendee. In later years I teamed with him to win the men tennis doubles championship for
Baltimore City. A very quiet, unassuming pro who remained a "regular" everyday guy. Happy to hear he has recovered from his stroke.

My memories of Dick Hall are mostly off the field, although that delivery of his was one of a kind. I used to go to the Towson Y and play pickup basketball with the Orioles in the winter. There were about 12 there on any given day. What I remember most is the intense battles under the boards, elbows flying, between Palmer and Hall, who were the two tallest players, and fierce competitors. Some others may have taken these games lightly, but not those two. Dick Hall is a nice guy and was a great pitcher. Were he playing today, he would be a millionaire many times over. He would be the middle or setup guy, although back in the day, he could, and did, also start. While Richert and Watt were the lefty/righty closers, guys like Hall and Drabowsky could give you six outs or six innings. So much for the whiners of today griping they have to have their "roles" defined.

That's my big brother! And I've always been so proud of him! And I remember his great years in the Mexican Pacific Coast winter league, playing for Mazatlan, where he got the nickname Siete Leguas (Pancho Villa's horse "Seven Leagues", for his long legs), broke their home run record, and met his wife Elena. And I remember him playing ball with us kids when he was out for a while with an immobilized dislocated right shoulder -- he could still beat a team of us while playing with only his left hand! And no, he would certainly never charge for an autograph unless it was at one of those shows where you're supposed to!

I was actually lucky enough to get paired-up with Mr. Hall as a 13-year old ignorant high-schooler who only found out later I played with an Oriole Great. If only I had known at the time. He was a gentleman and I'd honor the chance to play another round in the future.

Mike you made my day when you put Gus Triandos in the toy department. You know how pitchers can't complete their games today. I don't know if you remember the Kiddie Corp in the Paul Richard era. They had a pitcher named Jerry Walker among them Jerry Walker pitched 16 innnings in a game. How about Mike Flannagan where is he now. I know it was fairly recent but people would like to know where Mike is now.

When I was a boy, my grandfather used to tell me about the Oriole he worked with at The Baltimore Paint Company. In those days, most players had another job. I never met him, but Grandpa liked him and he was a good judge of character.

I had the pleasure of talking briefly with Dick after the 1966 WS 40th "reunion" event. He was funny, smart, and oh-so-nice. Quite the gentleman.

I believe it was in 1979 that I played in a Swarthmore alumni baseball game. Dick Hall pitched and by popular vote captained the alumni team against the undergraduates. I played first base: when he got a comebacker to the mound and whipped the ball over to me I felt my glove pop like a catcher's mitt! It was a thrill to be on the diamond with him.

It has been a pleasure receiving all the posts about Dick Hall, certainly one of the classiest and clutch pitchers of the old Orioles.

One of my favorite Orioles trivia questions - Who was 5th on the Orioles in wins in 1971 -the year of the 4 20 game winners? Of course, the answer is Dick Hall.

Re: Clint Courtney,

He was managing the Richmond Braves of the International League when he died of a heart attack in the team's hotel on June 16, 1975 when they were in Rochester to play the Red Wings. He was 48.

What ever became of Eddie Watt. I got to know him and Pete Richert as I visited with him on many occasions when the club came to Detroit. I often would catch up with Ed in Lindells bar a watering hole on Michigan Ave. I would love to know how and what he is doing.

Dick Hall was a youngster pitching for Winfield Schuster in the Blackstone Valley Leaguein Douglas, MA in the 1950s.As a 12-year-old kid, I used to shag balls for him. One day I played a trick on him actually knocking him down. He chased me and held me by the heels over a nearby bridge over the Mumford river. I promised I would never do that again and he laughingly hoisted me back up. I still think of him on occasion.

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