This article was written by Thomas Van Hyning
This article was published in The National Pastime: A Bird’s-Eye View of Baltimore (2020)
Dick Hall’s trade to the Baltimore Orioles — with Dick Williams — on April 12, 1961, for Jerry Walker and Chuck Essegian, was influenced by Charles Finley’s resolve not to trade with the Yankees, a team he despised. Finley once pointed a school bus in the direction of New York and burned it to symbolize the end of the special “Kansas City-New York Yankees relationship.”1 Lee MacPhail, Baltimore’s General Manager (GM), earned his 1939 degree from Swarthmore, Hall’s alma mater. “Dick Hall was a  Swarthmore graduate, so you might say I was prejudiced,” affirmed MacPhail, who had high hopes for Hall.2
Hall was 8–13, 4.05 ERA, 1.212 walks plus hits per innings pitched (WHIP) with the 1960 A’s. He transitioned from a starter to an excellent reliever. His pinpoint control was despite a “herky-jerky motion” that made him look like “a drunken giraffe on roller skates.”3 Baltimore Sun sportswriter Mike Klingaman noted the 6’6” Hall had a “lofty IQ, low ERA, could compute batting averages in his head; most of those who faced him watched their numbers fall.”4 Hall started 13 games in 1961, relieved 16 times, and went 7-5 with a 3.09 ERA. His 122.1 innings included 92 strikeouts–30 walks.
Transition to the Orioles Bullpen, 1962-66
From 1962-66, Hall walked 1.3 batters/nine innings with a strikeout-walk ratio of 4.6, MLB-best for relievers with 150 plus innings. Hall’s five-year WHIP was 0.9721.5 His 1962 WHIP was a team-best 1.0225. He was 6–6, 2.28 ERA — 102 hits allowed in 118.1 innings, 71 strikeouts–19 walks. Hall’s move to the bullpen was good for his career.6 In 1963, he permitted 91 hits and 16 walks in 111.2 innings, for a 0.9582 WHIP, saved 12, split 10 decisions with a 2.98 ERA, and had a 4.63 strikeout-walk ratio (74/16). From July 24 to August 17, 1963, he retired 28 straight hitters in five games. “That was my first perfect game,” Hall said. “I never had one before and this one took 25 days.”7
On July 24, Hall relieved Dave McNally in the third, after Don Zimmer’s run-scoring hit, finished the game, and retired the last four Senators. On August 4 at Yankee Stadium, Hall retired eight straight to preserve Steve Barber’s victory. On August 9, he set down nine Senators, and on August 15, retired four straight Twins at Minnesota. Two days later, he pitched the ninth in a 6–1 victory at Kansas City. Ed Charles struck out; Norm Siebern popped to third; Doc Edwards skied to left. Seven strikeouts, three saves, and one win comprised this streak. Albie Pearson (Angels) ended it with a sixth-inning single in Baltimore, August 21.
Hall dominated in 1964: 9–1, 1.85 ERA, nine saves, 0.8441 WHIP; 87.2 innings/58 hits allowed, he fanned 52 and walked 16. He caught the eye of Yogi Berra, 1964 Yankee manager. “I know he’s [Hall] been good against us for a couple of years,” said Berra. “But I don’t know why? The ball sure looks good to hit, but we don’t hit it.”8 Berra recalled Hall retiring three straight Yankees on three pitches, after singles by Bobby Richardson and Mickey Mantle.9 Hall was a 1963-64 “Yankee Killer” with 22 innings, two runs allowed, 4–1 record, and four saves!
Hall’s 1965 ledger was 11–8, 3.07 ERA, 12 saves, 84 hits allowed in 93.2 innings, 79 strikeouts, 11 walks, and 1.0142 WHIP. Hall, age 35 by season’s end, was the youngest of the bullpen quartet of Stu Miller (37), Don Larsen (36), and Harvey Haddix (39). Haddix said Hall’s pitching “improved dramatically versus 1959 with Pittsburgh.”10
Baltimore’s 1966 spring training began in Miami, Florida, February 22. On March 7, Dick Brown, Hall’s 1963-65 road roommate, was diagnosed with a brain tumor and never played again. Andy Etchebarren became the primary catcher.11 Baltimore clinched their first AL pennant since moving from St. Louis in Kansas City, September 22. Hall’s 1.0152 WHIP was from 59 hits and eight walks permitted in 66 innings. He was shut down due to right elbow tendinitis, with a 6–2 record and 3.95 ERA, but traveled with Baltimore to Los Angeles for the first two World Series games.
“By the Fall of 1966, I took additional [accounting] classes at Johns Hopkins University,” said Hall. “The professor said [October 5 or 6] ‘One of our students is in Los Angeles and we’re canceling class!”12 Hall’s winning share of $11,683.04 was over half of his $21,750 regular season salary.
Philadelphia Detour: 1967–68
Hall’s 1:00 am off-season phone call from GM Harry Dalton, on December 16, 1966, informed him of his trade to Philadelphia for a player to be named later. Hall told the Philadelphia press, it wasn’t much of a shock.13 “Phils were looking for pitching,” he said. “Player to be named was John Miller, sent to Philadelphia December 15, 1967!”14 Hall lasted in Philly through the 1968 season and was then released.
Renewed Success: Baltimore, 1969–71
Hall called Dalton pre-spring training 1969 and was told: “Come down; we’ll give you a shot.”15 Earl Weaver had become Orioles manager after Dalton fired Hank Bauer during the 1968 All-Star break. Hall impressed Weaver with 11 scoreless innings, motivating Weaver to state, “The way he has looked, Hall could pick up the phone right now and get five jobs.”16 Hall liked Weaver’s style.
“Weaver would not bring in a closer to start an inning…save rules were different,” said Hall. “You could get a save with more than a three-run lead.” 17 Hall’s pitching style suited Weaver just fine. “I bent over like a sidearm pitcher, but my release point was on or near the ear,” said Hall. “Threw overhand from the side. Ball came out from my uniform…arms and legs, sneaky riding fastball.”18
In 1969, Hall went 5–2, 1.92 ERA, with six saves, 0.8832 WHIP, 65.2 innings, 31 strikeouts, nine walks, and 49 hits allowed. Baltimore (109–53) swept Minnesota, in the ALCS. “Our [October 4] game on TV came first [before Mets-Braves],” said Hall.
I came in the 12th with bases loaded and got two quick strikes on Cárdenas; threw a slider in the dirt — swung and missed; committed himself a split second too soon — turned just before I released the ball…Roseboro flied to left, on an outside fastball.19
Baltimore won, 3–2, on a walk-off bunt by Paul Blair. Twins pitcher Ron Perranoski called it “a perfect bunt.”20 Billy Martin, Twins manager, told a sportswriter, “There’s no way to beat a perfect bunt.”21 Baltimore won games two and three. “It was the only time I’ve ever seen a team give up,” said Hall. “Carew trotted after a ball [game three] and it’s over.”22
Hall recalled Game Four of the 1969 World Series, a 10-inning one. Earl Weaver was ejected for arguing balls-strikes in the third. “It was a sunny day in Shea,” remembered Hall. “Buford is looking into the sun [10th] and there’s a huge, black background due to the stands. Buford could not pick up the ball hit by [Jerry] Grote. Belanger almost caught it.” Grote’s bloop double put him at second. Gil Hodges summoned Rod Gaspar to pinch-run. Coach Billy Hunter had Hall walk Al Weis intentionally. Pete Richert faced J.C. Martin, who bunted. Hall indicated: “Martin is running in fair territory; ball ricochets off his shoulder and Gaspar scores.”23 Hall got the loss. He took the CPA three-day exam — three weeks later — and tied for second of 200 candidates who sat for it! 24
In 1970, Baltimore won 108 games, swept Minnesota in the ALCS, and bested Cincinnati in the World Series. Hall won 10 of 15 decisions. His 61.1 innings led Orioles relievers. Hall’s WHIP was 0.9293 — fanned 30 walked six, allowed 51 hits — and posted a 3.08 ERA. Ted Williams, Washington Senators manager, compared Hall’s 1970 pitching to 1960 when he faced Hall. “His control is sharper,” said Williams. “You can’t wait around for him to walk you. You’d better go up there swinging.”25
Hall won Game One of the ALCS, October 3, with 4.2 scoreless innings of relief; he faced 14 batters, gave up a hit to Tony Oliva, and fanned three. He induced Danny Thompson to hit into a 4-6-3 double-play, after relieving Miguel Cuéllar, whose grand slam in the fourth preceded Hall’s sixth-inning single and run, in a 10–6 win. “Hall was a great teammate and we conversed in Spanish,” recalled Cuéllar. “His wife is from Mazatlán, Mexico, where he played winter ball.”26
In Game Two of the 1970 World Series, October 11, Hall preserved a 6–5 win. Tony Pérez grounded out, with two on, before Johnny Bench, Lee May, and Hal McRae were retired in the eighth and Tommy Helms, Bernie Carbo, and Jimmy Stewart retired in the ninth. Tony Pérez opined, “He’s got that funny motion. He throws a change-up or a palm ball. I don’t know what it is. Oh, that pitch he gave to me was a good one to hit.”27 Johnny Bench added, “I tried to go right on him, then I changed my swing and I got all screwed up.”28 Brooks Robinson ensured Hall translated Spanish-speaking interviews with Cuéllar and Marcelino López.29
Hall — 6–6, 4.98 ERA, one save — threw the only wild pitch (WP) of his MLB career, August 20, 1971. Minnesota’s George Mitterwald doubled in the ninth and advanced to third on the WP. Hall turned 41 on September 27. The next oldest Orioles were Orlando Peña (37) and Frank Robinson (36). Baltimore (101–57) swept Oakland, managed by Dick Williams, in the ALCS.
Hall pitched the ninth in Game Two of the 1971 World Series on October 11. The Orioles were up, 11–3, when Weaver told Hall, “We got a big lead. I need Palmer later in the Series.”30 Al Oliver singled to right; Bob Robertson popped to 2B; Manny Sanguillen grounded into a forceout and Milt May, hitting for Jackie Hernández, grounded to Boog Powell, who flipped it to Hall. “I put the ball in my back pocket — saved it — [was] the last pitch I ever threw in a regular season or World Series game,” said Hall. “It’s in a plastic case…[I] have shown it to my grandson.”31
Sadaharu Oh hit the last home run Hall gave up, in Kokura, an ancient castle town, during the Orioles post-1971 World Series tour of Japan. Baltimore went 12-2-4. “After the last game, I [knew I] wasn’t coming back in 1972…arm trouble,” said Hall, who pitched three innings against the Yomiuri Giants.”32
Hall threw batting practice for the 1972 Orioles, at Memorial Stadium. Baltimore’s pro soccer team played Santos, Brazil’s powerhouse club, one day, when Hall met superstar Pelé. “He [Pelé]] spoke English, Spanish and Portuguese,” said Hall. “We spoke in Spanish. Pelé knew about Orlando Peña — both were married to sisters from Guadalajara, Mexico!” 33
Baltimore, Swarthmore, and MLB Recognition
In 1989, Hall was inducted into the Baltimore Orioles Hall of Fame. Swarthmore College inducted Hall into their Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012. That same year, Paul Hartzell met Hall at the Orioles Hall of Fame Ceremony. “I admired you when I was a young man, and thought of you as a real ‘professional’ when I met you in person,” stated Hartzell.34
Fox Sports (June 30, 2017) named Hall one of Baltimore’s [1954-to-2016] four all-time relievers on their All-Time 25-man Orioles roster, with Gregg Olson, Tippy Martínez, and Zach Britton.35 In nine Baltimore seasons, Hall was 65–40, .619 AVE, 2.89 ERA, 60 saves, 770 IP, 499 strikeouts-126 walks (46 intentional), and 1.0052 WHIP. When asked about his fondest memory as an Oriole, Hall said, “Four World Series, that’s pretty good.”36
Hall’s 1.1019 career MLB WHIP tied Rube Waddell for 25th, all-time, 1,000 plus career innings, behind #24 Juan Marichal’s 1.1012. Two relievers made the top 10: Mariano Rivera — 1.0003 (third) and Trevor Hoffman — 1.0584 (10th). Hall outpaced #29 Sandy Koufax’s 1.1061 and many other Cooperstown inductees.
THOMAS E.VAN HYNING covered the 2020 Caribbean Series in San Juan, Puerto Rico. His research helped Buster Clarkson and Bob Thurman to be recently inducted in the Caribbean Series Hall of Fame. Tom authored Puerto Rico’s Winter League and The Santurce Crabbers. He is published in beisbol101.com, The National Pastime, Baseball Research Journal, and writes SABR BioProject biographies. A charter member of SABR’s Cool Papa Bell (Mississippi) Chapter, Tom is Tourism Economist/Data Analyst, Mississippi Development Authority. His BBA is from the University of Georgia.
Thanks to Dick Hall, Harvey Haddix, Lee MacPhail, Miguel Cuéllar, and Paul Hartzell.
Robert Creamer, “The Invisible Man on the Mound,” Sports Illustrated, (June 24, 1963). Accessed at https://www.si.com/vault/1963/06/24/594274/the-invisible-man-on-the-mound.
Stew Thornley, “October 3, 1970: Slam, errors give Orioles playoff opener,” SABR Games Project. Accessed at https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/october-3-1970-slam-errors-give-orioles-playoff-opener.
1 G. Michael Green and Roger D. Launius, Charlie Finley: The Outrageous Story of Baseball’s Super Showman (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010), 44. Finley also approved the January 24, 1961 trade: Whitey Herzog, and Russ Snyder went to Baltimore for Bob Boyd, Al Pilarcik, Jim Archer Wayne Causey and Clint Courtney.
2 Lee MacPhail, My Nine Innings: An Autobiography of 50 Years in Baseball (Westport, CT: Meckler Books, 1989), 69. MacPhail was a high school and Swarthmore College classmate of Paula Swarthe Van Hyning, the author’s mother. The author corresponded with MacPhail in 2011 on various topics.
3 Mike Klingaman, “Catching Up With ex-Oriole Dick Hall,” Baltimore Sun, May 26, 2009. Located at: https://www.baltimoresun.com/bs-mtblog-2009-05-catching_up_with_dick_hall-story.html. Accessed May 2, 2019.
4 Mike Klingaman, “Catching Up” Baltimore Sun, May 26, 2009.
5 Fox Sports, “Baltimore Orioles All-Time 25-Man Roster,” June 30, 2017 blog. https://www.foxsports.com/mlb/story/baltimore-orioles-all-time-25-man-roster-120516. Accessed April 25, 2019.
6 Dick Hall, telephone interview, April 30, 2019.
7 Doug Brown, “’Perfect Game’ by Reliever Hall; Retired 28 in Row over 25 Days,” The Sporting News, August 31, 1963, 10.
8 Doug Brown, “Hitters Flunk in Facing Scholar Hall: Oriole Bull-Pen Ace Looks Awkward, Has Jerky Style,” The Sporting News, July 25, 1964.
10 Harvey Haddix, telephone interview, April 14, 1992.
12 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
13 ‘Chip’ Greene, Dick Hall SABR bio.
14 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
15 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
16 Doug Brown, “Dick Hall Tireless and Oriole Retread,” The Sporting News, April 19, 1969, 4.
17 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
18 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
19 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
20 Jimmy Keenan, “October 4, 1969: Orioles win first-ever ALCS game,” SABR Games Project. https://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/october-4-1969-orioles-win-first-ever-alcs-game. Accessed May 3, 2019.
21 Jimmy Keenan, “October 4, 1969” SABR Games Project.
22 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
23 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
24 ‘Chip’ Greene, Dick Hall SABR bio. Hall prepared tax returns for Latin American teammates as far back as 1959, including Ed Bauta and Carlos Bernier, Salt Lake City teammates, per Bauta’s 2018 SABR bio by Van Hyning. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/b078dcf3. Accessed December 24, 2019.
25 Ed Rumill, “The pitching machine: Hall has ‘built-in file on every hitter,’” Christian Science Monitor, June 25, 1970.
26 Miguel Cuéllar, in-person interview, Chain of Lakes Park, Winter Haven, Florida, March 1992. Hall’s nickname in Mexico was Siete Leguas, Francisco “Pancho” Villa’s favorite horse. Hall got this nickname by the way he galloped around the bases. He first pitched professionally in Mexico, 1954-55 winter season. See Bernabé López Padilla, “Dick Hall: Siete Leguas,” August 24, 2015 blog. http://beisbolredes.blogspot.com/2015/08/dick-hall-siete-leguas.html. Accessed April 24, 2019.
27 ‘Chip’ Greene, Dick Hall SABR bio.
28 ‘Chip’ Greene, Dick Hall SABR bio.
29 Dick Hall, telephone interview, April 30, 2019.
30 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
31 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019. Roberto Clemente, MVP of the 1971 World Series, was the first player in a NL or AL uniform to hit a home run off Hall, in a 1955 spring training Pittsburgh intersquad game, at Ft. Myers, Florida.
32 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019. Hall visited with his brother-in-law, a Pan Am pilot, who stayed at the same hotel in Japan.
33 Dick Hall, telephone interview, May 3, 2019.
34 Paul Hartzell, e-mail to Thomas E. Van Hyning, May 10, 2019. Hartzell grew up in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, a three-hour drive from Baltimore. He pitched for the 1980 Orioles and 1973 Johnny’s amateur team in Baltimore. Rich Dauer, Mike Mussina, and Walter Youse (posthumously) were inducted at the 2012 Orioles Hall of Fame Ceremony. Jim Gentile and Stu Miller were inducted with Hall — 1989.
35 Fox Sports, “Baltimore Orioles All-Time 25-Man Roster,” June 30, 2017 blog.