Monday, February 17, 2014

Debuted with Browns, played only one game, but had unique career

Harold Augustine "Hal" Haid

The 77 players who played for both the St. Louis Browns and St. Louis Cardinals have a special affection among us here at the St. Louis Browns fan club. (Imagine the confusion in the fan's mind when a player is traded from one St. Louis team to another: same ballpark, same StL logo on the hat, just a different shade of uniform color).  One of those is journeyman right-hander Hal Haid.  Like seemingly so many Browns, Haid has an interesting set of unique things about his career.

Let's take a look at just a few of Haid's Highlights:
  • Despite only pitching 300 big league innings, he managed to appear in three different decades, the 10s, 20s and 30s.
  • Haid made his debut in relief with the Browns on September 5, 1919, and only pitched two innings in a 12-3 drubbing by the Tigers.  Hall of Famers Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann were both on-base four out of five times in that game. A tough way to start a career! So, saddled with an 18.00 ERA as a result of those two innings, Haid was not used again the rest of the season by manager Jimmy Burke, nor called back in 1920 by owner Phil Ball.  
  • In 1920 he was assigned to the Mobile Bears of the Southern Association, a team that featured a half-dozen ex-major leaguers on the downhill slide.  But he made the most of his return to the minors, pitching a mammoth-by-today's-standards 244 innings for the Bears.
  • By 1922, he was finally out of the Browns' grasp, but back in Missouri, beginning a four-year stint with the St. Joe Saints of the Class A Western League, winning 20 games his last year.
  • Like fellow Phil Ball cast-off Branch Rickey, Haid would later get revenge by shining, (a lot less brightly than Rickey to be sure), with the rival Cardinals. Haid led the National League in saves in 1928, with five (5).  There has never been a total that low since, in either league, to win the league save championship.  Indeed, five saves would be only a week's work for a modern relief pitcher.
  • Was on two pennant-winning Cardinal teams ('28 and '30), and apparently made the World Series roster, but didn't participate in either series.
  • Is the only player ever to make it to the big leagues out of Belmont Abbey College.  This, despite the fact that Belmont Abbey College was founded in 1876, which for all practical purposes was the beginning of professional baseball (founding of the NL).  He went to Belmont Abbey Prep as well.
  • Pitched in the well-thought-of-in-those-days Pacific Coast League from 1932 to 1937, retiring at an-old-for-those-days-for-a-pitcher 39 years-old. (Recall that Haid's contemporary and teammate, Dizzy Dean had a right arm that was considered "long-gone" at age 28, and never pitched beyond age 32 except for his publicity stunt as a Browns radio play-by-play announcer).
  • Settled in Los Angeles after his playing days were over, and did not live to see his rookie team, the Browns, relocate to Baltimore (date of death August 19, 1952). 
As a teammate, however briefly, with George Sisler, Hank Severeid, and the million-dollar outfield of the St. Louis Browns of the late 10s, as they began their ascent out of mediocrity into the second place "near miss" of 1922; and present during a slightly-pre-Gas-House-Gang championship Cardinals era that allowed him to rub shoulders with 11 Hall of Famers*; and winning one "crown" (1928 saves leader), Haid made the most of his "sideman" role of 300 innings in the big leagues.

* Rabbit Maranville, Chick Hafey, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Jim Bottomley, Jesse Haines, Frankie Frisch, Dean, Burleigh Grimes, managers Bill McKechnie and Billy Southworth, general manager Branch Rickey.

1 comment:

  1. Correction: Haid is not the only Belmont Abbey player to reach MLB. Alex Castellanos made his MLB debut in 2012. Tip of hat to @abbeyathletics