SABR

Charley Hall

This article was written by John Stahl and Rebecca Glidewell-Hall.

Standing 6-feet-1 at 185 pounds with dark good looks, the young Charley Hall cut an imposing, often intimidating figure on the mound. Early in his baseball career, he combined his “swarthy” appearance with a blazing, high-voltage fast ball. Later, with diminished speed but more consistent control, he deftly packaged a wide array of pitches thrown at various speeds, alternately teasing and jamming hitters. Batters simply did not like to face either the young or old Charley Hall.1

Charley was born on July 27, 1884, in Ventura, California, to Arthur and Elvira (Mungari) Hall.2 His roots were Spanish-American. Both Spanish and English were spoken in his boyhood home. Elvira’s mother was Doña Concepcion Cota Mungari, a descendant of the Spanish settlers of the Presidio of Santa Barbara of 1762. Charley was christened Carlos Luis Hall at the San Buenaventura Mission in Ventura.3 Elvira died from childbirth complications in 1888 when Charley was 3 years old.4 Arthur’s father (Rueben) and mother (Sarah) came to California from Wisconsin via a wagon train in the mid-1860s.

Charley started playing organized baseball as a boy. According to the Oxnard Courier, he “learned how to play ball” as a member of an Oxnard junior baseball team known as the Palm Street Nine.5 Very thin as a youngster, Hall’s prodigious baseball talent was not generally recognized until he began to mature physically. 6

In 1904, Parke Wilson, the manager of the Seattle team in the Pacific Coast League, “discovered” and signed the 19-year-old Hall playing in Santa Barbara. Initially, Wilson used Hall in relief. As he gained experience and other veteran Seattle pitchers faltered, Charley became a starter as well.

By July 1904, Charley’s record was 12-5, second best in the entire PCL. The Seattle Times called him “about the biggest sensation in the Pacific Coast League this season.” 7 Opponents also noted his nerve. San Francisco catcher Ly Gordon told the Seattle Times, “I never saw a youngster with more backbone in him than this Seattle youngster.” By the end of 1904, Charley had accumulated a 29-19 record, pitching a phenomenal 425 innings.8

Returning to Seattle again in 1905, Hall found himself on a horrible team. Burdened with the high expectations he established in 1904, he slumped – though he did no-hit Oakland on April 5. As the team improved, Hall rallied, finishing the year with a 23-27 record. He completed another marathon eight-month PCL season with 449 innings pitched. Although clearly overworked at times by the brutal schedule, Charley was rewarded for his diligence with over 870 innings of professional pitching experience in his first two years.

When the 1904 and 1905 seasons ended in early December, Charley went home and played semiprofessional baseball in Southern California. He would do this for most of his professional career. Within this local, low-pressure, entertainment-oriented baseball environment, Charley also began coaching third base. His Spanish-laced baserunning instructions were high-volume exhortations that usually resulted in making him hoarse over the course of a game. An Oxnard Courier article described his hoarse coaching voice as “sounding something like the bark of hunting dog.” Every time he batted during the game, the bleacher fans would mimic his coaching sounds mercilessly.9 Later, when he did the same thing as a Red Sox third base coach, the Boston fans affectionately named him Sea Lion.

By 1906, Charley was married to Emma Larson and had fathered his first son, Marshall.10 He was also an established veteran pitcher on Seattle’s team. When injuries hit the team during the year, Seattle also used Charley occasionally as an infielder or outfielder.11

On May 13, 1906, against Oakland, Hall pitched his second no-hit game, winning 3-0. The Seattle Times called it “the finest exhibition of pitching seen in Recreation Park (Seattle’s home field).” A walk in the second inning and an error by the shortstop in the ninth accounted for Oakland’s only baserunners. Relying primarily on his fastball, Hall struck out seven.12 During his next regular start, in a pregame ceremony, his teammates gave new “Papa” Hall a brand new “baby buggy in which to trundle his son and heir.”13

In July 1906, Charley finally got his first chance in the major leagues, reporting to the Cincinnati Reds. For Seattle, he had a 1906 record of 8-14 in 196 innings with an earned run average of 2.29.

In Cincinnati, Hall made his major-league debut against John McGraw’s defending NL champion New York Giants on July 12. According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, Charley relieved a beleaguered Cincinnati starting pitcher in the top of the first inning and was “pounded unmercifully” the rest of the game. The Reds lost 16-11, as Charley gave up 12 hits and walked seven in his nine innings.14 Four days later, starting in place of an injured pitcher, Charley recorded his first major-league win against Brooklyn, striking out eight while walking four in a complete game 7-6 victory.15 Hall finished his rookie year with a 4-8 record in 95 innings with a 3.32 ERA.16

In 1907, he started with Cincinnati and things quickly deteriorated. His pitching control remained inconsistent. He would be impressive in one appearance and then wild in another. After pitching 68 innings in 11 games with a 2.51 ERA, Hall was sent to Columbus in the American Association. He ended the year with Columbus going 8-3.

Hall began 1908 pitching for a Columbus team that finished in third place. He went 8-21, allowing 245 hits in 243 innings. It was his worst full-season record in professional baseball. Hall’s slide into baseball oblivion, however, suddenly ended when he was sent to St. Paul at the end of the 1908 season.

At St. Paul in 1909, Hall was 4-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 172 innings. The highlight of his 1909 season was another no-hitter, a nine-inning effort against Louisville, which he eventually lost 1-0 in the 12th inning. He struck out every man in the lineup (six in a row) for a total of 16 batters in 12 innings. In the first nine innings, only two batters reached base, both on walks.

At St. Paul, however, Charley had the good fortune to pitch for one of the legends of minor-league baseball, manager Mike Kelley. On July 26, 1909, Kelley got Charley back into the major leagues when he traded him with pitcher Ed Karger to the Boston Red Sox for pitchers Charlie Chech and Jack Ryan, plus cash.17

With Boston, Hall compiled a 6-4 record that season, pitching 59 innings with a 2.56 ERA. Hall’s joy in returning to the major leagues was tempered by the death of his first wife, Emma, during childbirth. His first child, Marshall, was subsequently raised by Emma’s parents.18

In 1910, Charley pitched well as both a starter and a reliever for Boston. In his 35 appearances, he started 16 games and relieved in 19. His resulting record was 12 wins and 9 losses in 188 innings with his major-league career low 1.91 ERA, good enough for 10th best in the American League.

Hall’s 1911 role put more emphasis on relief pitching. His 32 pitching appearances included 22 in relief and 10 starts. He finished 1911 with an 8-7 record in 146⅓ innings and a 3.75 ERA. His 1911 appearances included a number of highlights. In May, he relieved the Boston starters in both games of a doubleheader against Washington and won both games, besting Walter Johnson in the afternoon contest.19

On August 2, against the Detroit Tigers, Hall arguably had the best relief appearance in his major-league career. In the second game of a doubleheader, with Boston leading 8-2 in the top of the ninth inning, the Tigers loaded the bases with no outs. Hall was summoned with no time to warm up to replace the fading starter, Larry Pape. In succession, Hall had to face Ty Cobb, Wahoo Sam Crawford, and Jim Delahanty.

After teasing Cobb with two outside pitches, Charley busted two past him for called strikes. Cobb took a strong swing at the next one, tipping it slightly, but catcher Les Nunamaker held on to the ball for strike three. Charley used the same pitching sequence with Crawford – two pitches outside followed by two strikes. The all-time triples king swung at the fifth pitch. Again Nunamaker held the foul tip for the third strike. The doubleheader crowd of 27,354 erupted as Crawford dejectedly headed back to the dugout. For the final out, Charley got Delahanty to pop weakly to shortstop. As the infield pop fell into Steve Yerkes’ glove, a boisterous crowd of very happy Boston fans stormed the field in celebration.20 In later years, Hall often cited the incident as one of the biggest thrills in his baseball career.

On November 5, 1911, Charley married Boston native Marie Cullen at the Mission Church in Boston. The Oxnard Courier, announced the news, calling Charley “one of the best known young men in the country, from a baseballistic and friendship standpoint.” The paper also reported that he would bring his bride with him when he returned to Ventura.21

Balancing this happy news was a less flattering incident. In late 1911, the Boston Globe reported that Charley was arrested in Ventura for refusing to help with firefighting.

After Boston’s disappointing fourth-place finish in 1911, Charley showed up for 1912 spring training “lively and limber.”22 During the winter, the Red Sox had made several significant ownership, front office, and field manager changes. Jake Stahl, who had sat out the 1911 season, now managed the 1912 team. As the Boston first baseman on the 1909 and 1910 teams, he had witnessed Hall’s success as both a starting and relief pitcher.

In 1912, Charley flourished, achieving major-league career bests in wins (15) and innings pitched (191). He appeared in 34 games, 20 as the starting pitcher and 14 in relief. 23 This was a distinct departure from his 1911 usage pattern, when he started only 10 games during the entire season.

Hall made important contributions to the Red Sox’ 1912 championship season. He got the win in the first game at Boston’s brand new Fenway Park, replacing wobbly starter Buck O’Brien and pitching three-hit ball for seven strong innings to allow the Red Sox to rally in the 11th.24 During the first 35 games of the season, Charley appeared nine times and pitched four complete-game victories. On September 10, he saved Smoky Joe Wood’s 15th consecutive win in the ninth inning at Comiskey Park in Chicago.25

Hall was a consistently positive presence during the 1912 pennant drive. He voluntarily manned Boston’s third-base coaching box, often yelling directions and encouragement to his teammates.26 In the clubhouse, he was gregarious and friendly, often exchanging friendly banter with other veteran players. He often teased Boston pitcher Ed Cicotte (before the latter's July sale to the White Sox) that his name meant “punk” or “very poor” in Spanish. Cicotte jokingly insisted that Hall’s real name was Carlos Cholo.27

The 1912 World Series afforded Charley an opportunity to play against his two longtime Southern California friends, Fred Snodgrass and Chief Meyers. He appeared twice and was probably under the weather each time. The Boston Globe reported before the Series opener that Charley had a severe cold and it was uncertain to what extent he could pitch in the Series. He was referred to the Boston team physician, Dr. Cliff, for treatment.28

Sick or not, Charley performed. He pitched in the Game Two 6-6 tie, entering in relief of Ray Collins in the eighth inning with runners on second and third, one out, and the Red Sox ahead 4-3. He retired the first hitter but gave up a two-run double to Buck Herzog. Although walking the bases full, he pitched a scoreless ninth. In the 10th, he allowed a leadoff triple and the sixth Giants run.29

Hall also pitched in Boston’s seventh-game loss (because of the tie, the Series ran to eight games). He relieved Wood in the second inning and pitched the rest of the game.30 His World Series line showed 10 innings pitched with a 3.38 ERA.

After their pennant-winning 1912 season, the Red Sox players, including Hall, suffered a letdown in 1913. Within an environment that included distracting 1912-related celebrations, injuries, management turmoil, a strong wire-to-wire pennant run by Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics, and Boston’s erratic starting pitching, Hall’s workload changed.

Appearing in 35 games, he was used as a relief pitcher 31 times and as a starting pitcher only four times. He ended the year with a 5-4 record in 105 innings with a 3.43 ERA. He failed to win any of his four starts and walked nearly as many hitters (46) as he struck out (48).

After the disappointing 1913 season, Boston released Hall. Unable to find another job in the major leagues, he returned to St. Paul, where in 1914 he went 12-17 in 258⅓ innings for a mediocre American Association team.

In 1915, with an improved club around him, Charley re-emerged as a strong starting pitcher. Manager Kelley again created the kind of tight-knit club environment in which Charley thrived. At an early-season team fishing trip, he manned the stove as the chief cook. A picture in the St. Paul Pioneer Press showed him decked out in his apron. A later article commented on his outdoor cooking prowess, noting that he was the “master of the barbeque sauce.” 31 In 1915, he was 24-10 in 298 innings. His season’s highlight was an American Association record-setting streak of 16 consecutive wins.32

As Hall’s 1915 streak lengthened, scouts from both the National League and the new Federal League made visits to St. Paul to assess his pitching. Hall reportedly received a substantial offer from the Federal League to leave St. Paul and jump to the Federal League immediately.33 He refused the offer, publicly citing his loyalty to Kelley.34 Kelley rewarded Hall by negotiating a deal that gave him an immediate bonus and put him back in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals the next season. The deal also allowed him to complete 1915 in St. Paul. 35

In 1916, Hall, now in his early 30s, began the year in the major leagues with the Cardinals. He appeared 10 times: five as a starting pitcher; and five in relief. He did not win a game, going 0-4. His control problems re-emerged and he walked 14 in 42 innings. Toward the end of July, the Cardinals sold him to the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

Guided by future Hall of Famer Frank Chance, the Angels were fighting for first place.36 During the first week in August, Hall started and won his first game for the Angels.37 He finished with a 6-6 record in 128 innings as the Angels won the pennant. Returning in 1917, he spent the entire season with the Angels, going 14-19 in 313⅓ innings.

Hall rejoined Kelley in St. Paul to start the 1918 season. One of his highlights was pitching yet another no-hit game, against Columbus in late June. Three runners reached base, as he walked two and one reached on an error.38 Because of World War I, the American Association ended its season on July 21. Hall finished with a 15-8 record in 189 innings.

Primarily due to his 1918 success at St. Paul and the player shortage caused by the federal “work-or-fight” rule, the Detroit Tigers gave Charley another shot at the major leagues after the American Association season.39 But Hall was pounded, allowing 10 runs in 13⅓ innings. He appeared in six games, starting once and relieving in five others, and was 0-1. He was released by Detroit after the season. Hall’s major-league career was over. In parts of all of nine seasons, Hall finished with a 54-47 record, pitching 909 innings. He appeared in 188 games, starting in 80 and relieving in 108. His career ERA was 3.09.

Hall began 1919 again with Kelley in St. Paul. Starting in that season and running through 1923, Hall and the Saints amassed one of the greatest sets of seasons in minor-league history. In five years, Charley won 110 games, pitching 1,481 innings.

His 27-8 season in 1920 included a no-hit game, against Columbus. In the 6-0 shutout, only two runners reached base, one on a walk and one on an error.40 Kelley later called Hall’s 1920 season (27-8, 2.06 ERA) the greatest he’d ever seen for a pitcher. Three of those St. Paul teams (1920, 1922, and 1923, first place, first place, and second place, respectively) are ranked by baseball historians among the top 100 teams in minor-league history.

In 1924, when Kelley left St. Paul to become an owner of the Minneapolis team, Charley pitched for Sacramento in the PCL. For a last-place team, Charley went 16-21 in 305 innings. In 1925, after beginning the season with Birmingham, he rejoined Kelley in Minneapolis. Then 41 years old, Charley finished his professional baseball playing career by going 3-4 in 54 innings. His last pitching appearance was in relief against his old team, St. Paul. As a result of a controversial call by an umpire, Charley lost the game, 5-3.41

That pitching appearance was not Hall’s last game. In the next game, Kelley let his longtime friend play first base.42 Charley finished his 22-year professional baseball career with 54 major-league and 285 minor league wins, for a total of 339.

After leaving baseball, Hall returned to California, where he owned land and was an avid outdoorsman. He entered law enforcement and served as a policeman, a jailer, and the deputy sheriff. In 1920, his family suffered a devastating loss when their 6-year-old son, Charley, accidentally shot and killed their 3-year-old son, Kenneth.43

In 1943, Charley died of Parkinson’s disease in his beloved Ventura. Noting his popularity in Boston, the sportswriter Fred Lieb observed in Hall’s obituary, “Many a player who played with Charley or batted against him must have felt a passing regret that the big Sea Lion had roared his last.”44

 

Sources

Boston Globe

Cincinnati Enquirer

Oakland Tribune

Oxnard Courier

Seattle Times

The Sporting News

St. Louis Globe Democrat

St. Paul Pioneer Press

E-mail correspondence with Rebecca Glidewell-Hall

Jeff Maulhardt. Baseball in Ventura County. Arcadia Books 2007.

Bill Nowlin. Day By Day With the Boston Red Sox. (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2008)

Bill Nowlin. Red Sox Threads: Odds and Ends from Red Sox History. (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books 2006)

John Thorn, Pete Palmer, and Michael Gershman. Total Baseball. Kingston, New York: Total Sports Publishing, 2001.

SABR Minor League Database

National Baseball Hall of Fame: Charley Hall Player File

Twelfth Census of the United States: 1900.

 

Notes

1 Bill Nowlin. Red Sox Threads: Odds & Ends from Red Sox History. (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books, 2006), 89.

2 Certificate of Death 3608, State of California, Department of Public Health, Charles L. Hall, December 7, 1943, and Twelfth Census of the United States, 1900: California, Ventura County, Ventura City, Schedule NO-1, Population, Enumeration District 171, June 9, 1900, Arthur Hall.

3 Rebecca Glidewell-Brown, e-mails dated May 17, 2008, and August 26, 2008.

4 Rebecca Glidewell-Brown, e-mail dated April 28, 2008.

5 “Oxnard Wins Championship in Delirious Final Ball Game,” Oxnard Courier, Oxnard, California, December 9, 1910.

6 “Side Light From The County Seat,” Oxnard Courier, December 16, 1904, Volume 6, No. 51.

7 “Records of the Pitchers,” Seattle Times, July 18, 1904.

8 SABR Minor League Database, Charley Hall career pitching statistics.

9 “Captain Snodgrass Gets Winning Team Together Sunday,” Oxnard Courier, November 12, 1910.

10 Rebecca Glidewell-Brown, e-mail dated April 28, 2008.

11 “Seattle Breaks Even On Day,” Seattle Times, May 21, 1906.

12 “Hall Pitches No-Hit Game,” Seattle Times, May 13, 1906.

13 “Charley Hall In Fine Form,” Seattle Times, May 18, 1906.

14 Jack Ryder, “Fearful,” Cincinnati Enquirer, July 13, 1906.

15 Jack Ryder, “Scooted,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 1, 1906.

16 John Thorn, Pete Palmer, and Michael Gershman. Total Baseball (Kingston, New York: Total Sports Publishing, 2001).

17 Bill Nowlin. Day By Day With the Boston Red Sox (Cambridge, Massachusetts, Rounder Books, 2006), 346.

18 Rebecca Glidewell-Brown, e-mail dated May 17, 2008.

19 “Red Sox Clean Up Two More,” Boston Globe, May 31, 1911.

20 Paul Shannon, “27,354 See Red Sox Beat Detroit Twice,” Boston Globe and T.H. Murnane, “Make Tigers Give Up Two,” Boston Globe, August 3, 1911.

21 “Charley Hall Is Married in Boston,” Oxnard Courier, November 3, 1911.

22 “Charley Hall Lively, Limber,” Oxnard Courier, March 15, 1912.

23 John Stahl's analysis of Boston Post and Boston Globe for the 1912 Red Sox Box Scores, May through July 2008.

24 Paul Shannon, “Fenway Park Is Formally Opened With Red Sox Win,” Boston Post, April 21, 1912.

25 Paul Shannon, “Wood Wins His 15th With Assistance From Hall,” Boston Post, September 11, 1912.

26 “Sea Lion Charley Hall Is The Red Sox Rescue Pitcher,” Boston Post, September 5, 1912.

27 “Red Sox Are of a Retiring Disposition When Not Playing,” Boston Post, April 14, 1912. Most standard baseball reference sources have mistakenly cited Hall’s surname at birth as Clolo.

28 James C. O’Leary, “Gov. Foss Roots For the Red Sox, Hall Improves,” Boston Globe, October 8, 1912.

29 T.H. Murnane, “World Championship Baseball Extra Red Sox 6 New York 6,” Boston Globe, October 9, 1912.

30 James C. O’Leary, “Worlds Championship Baseball Extra Red Sox 4 Giants 11,” Boston Globe, October 15, 1912.

31 “What The Pioneer Press Camera Caught At The Saints Picnic At Bald Eagle Lake,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 18, 1915.

32 “Double Defeat Jolts Saints Out of First Place Hall Is Stopped At Last,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 23, 1915.

33 “Fed Agents On Hall’s Trail,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, July 28, 1915.

34 “Hall Loyal To Kelley,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 14, 1915.

35 “Hall and Boardman Are Sold to St. Louis,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sports Section, August 22, 1915.

36 “Charley Hall Bought By Chance From Cards,” Los Angeles Times, July 25, 1916.

37 Harry A. Williams, “Hall Wins First Game,” Los Angeles Times, August 3, 1916.

38 “Hall Hangs Up No Hit, No Run Game Against Columbus,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, June 24, 1918.

39 “Charley Hall,” Detroit Free Press, July 31, 1918.

40 Leo P. Sullivan, “Charley Hall Pitches No-Hit, No-Run Game Against Columbus,” St. Paul Pioneer Press, August 6, 1920.

41 Harry McKanna, “Old St. Paul Jinx Is On Job And Keds Lose Again 5 to 3,” Minneapolis Journal, September 21, 1925.

42 “It’s All Over Now,” Minneapolis Journal, September 21, 1925.

43 Bill Nowlin. Red Sox Threads: Odds and Ends from Red Sox History (Burlington, Massachusetts: Rounder Books 2006).

44 Fred Lieb, “Death Fans the Old Sea Lion,” The Sporting News, December 16, 1943.

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