Tom Haller

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Tom Haller
Born: (1937-06-23)June 23, 1937
Lockport, Illinois
Died: November 26, 2004(2004-11-26) (aged 67)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 11, 1961, for the San Francisco Giants
Last MLB appearance
October 4, 1972, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average .257
Home runs 134
Runs batted in 504
Career highlights and awards

Thomas Frank Haller (June 23, 1937 – November 26, 2004) was an American professional baseball player and baseball executive.[1] He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball with the San Francisco Giants (19611967), Los Angeles Dodgers (19681971) and Detroit Tigers (1972).[1] In the late 1960s, Haller was considered one of the top catchers in the National League.[2]

Major League career[edit]

Haller was born in Lockport, Illinois and attended the University of Illinois, where he played as a quarterback for the Illinois Fighting Illini football team.[3] Haller was signed by the San Francisco Giants as an amateur free agent in 1958.[1] After playing in the minor leagues for three seasons, he made his major league debut with the Giants on April 11, 1961 at the age of 24.[1][4]

Haller hit .261 with 18 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Giants in 1962, in a platoon system alongside Ed Bailey.[1] Haller and Bailey combined to give the Giants 35 home runs and 100 runs batted in from the catcher's position as they battled the Los Angeles Dodgers in a tight pennant race.[5] The two teams ended the season tied for first place and met in the 1962 National League tie-breaker series.[6] The Giants won the three-game series to clinch the National League championship.[7] The Giants then lost the New York Yankees in the 1962 World Series in seven games. Haller collected four hits in 14 at-bats with a home run and three runs batted in during the Series.[8]

Haller continued in a platoon role alongside Bailey through the 1963 season, finishing the year second to Johnny Edwards among National League catchers in fielding percentage.[9] In December 1963, the Giants traded Bailey to the Milwaukee Braves for veteran catcher Del Crandall, and Haller became their undisputed starting catcher. He was a solid defensive catcher for the Giants from 1964 to 1967. In his book, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, baseball historian Bill James said the decision to award Joe Torre with the 1965 National League Gold Glove Award was absurd, stating that he was given the award because of his offensive statistics and that, either Haller or John Roseboro were more deserved of the award.[2] Haller also helped offensively in 1965, hitting two home runs and driving in five runs during a game on September 27 to put the Giants in first place with one week left in the season.[10] However, the Giants faltered and ended the season two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.[11]

The following season, Haller earned his first All-Star berth when he was named as a reserve player for the National League team in the 1966 All-Star Game.[12] He was the catcher for two twenty-game winners in 1966, as Juan Marichal won 25 games and Gaylord Perry won 21 games.[13] Haller finished the season with career-highs of 27 home runs and 67 runs batted in, as the Giants once again finished second to the Dodgers by a game and a half.[1][14] He earned his second consecutive All-Star berth in 1967 when he was named as a reserve for the National League team in the 1967 All-Star Game.[15] Haller ended the 1967 season second to Tim McCarver among the league's catchers in assists and in fielding percentage, and guided the Giants' pitching staff to the lowest team earned run average in the National League, as Giants pitcher, Mike McCormick, won the National League Cy Young Award with a 22-10 record.[16][17][18] The Giants finished in second place for a third consecutive season, this time to the St. Louis Cardinals.[19]

In February 1968, the Giants were in need of good infielders, and with four young catching prospects including Dick Dietz and Dave Rader, club president Chub Feeney decided to trade Haller along with a player to be named later, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for infielders Ron Hunt and Nate Oliver.[20][21] The trade was the first between the two teams since their move to the West Coast in 1958, and also the first since the one that would have sent Jackie Robinson from the Dodgers to the Giants after the 1956 season.[21] Haller played well in 1968, posting a .285 batting average in 144 games and earned his third consecutive All-Star berth.[1] He also played well defensively with career-highs in assists (83) and in double plays (23).[1] He guided the Dodgers' pitching staff to the second best team earned run average in the league, although the team finished the season in seventh place.[22]

After spending four seasons with the Dodgers, Haller was traded to the Detroit Tigers in December 1971.[20] He batted .207 with two home runs and 12 runs batted in during the 1972 season as a backup catcher for Bill Freehan, when the Tigers won the American League Eastern Division championship.[1][23] Haller was the younger brother of American League umpire Bill Haller and in July 1972, the two men appeared in the same game with Tom catching for the Tigers while Bill stood behind him as the home plate umpire.[24] His playing time was reduced when the Tigers acquired catcher Duke Sims in August.[25] In the 1972 American League Championship Series against the Oakland Athletics, Haller made only one appearance as a pinch hitter in Game 2, as the Tigers lost the series in five games.[26][27] In October 1972, the Tigers traded Haller to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Don Leshnock.[28] He then made the decision to retire at the age of 35.[29]

Career statistics[edit]

In a twelve-year major league career, Haller played in 1,294 games, accumulating 1,011 hits in 3,935 at bats for a .257 career batting average along with 134 home runs, 504 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .340.[1] A three-time All-Star, he was a capable defensive catcher, ending his career with a respectable .992 fielding percentage which at the time of his retirement, was second only to the .993 career record of Elston Howard.[30] Haller led National League catchers in putouts in 1965, and in baserunners caught stealing in 1968.[1] He set the National League single-season record for double plays by a catcher with 23 in 1968.[31] He led the National League in sacrifice flies in 1968 with 9.[32] Haller caught for six pitchers who would eventually be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.[33] He caught 107 shutouts during his career, ranking him 23rd all-time among major league catchers.[34] Baseball historian Bill James ranked Haller 26th all-time among major league catchers.[2]

Coaching and executive career[edit]

After his playing career ended, Haller worked for the Giants as a coach (19771979), and was their vice president of baseball operations (19811986).[35] He was named to the Giants' 25th anniversary team in 1982.[35] In 1986, he served as the manager of the minor league Birmingham Barons.[36] In June 1986, Haller was named as the General Manager of the Chicago White Sox.[37]

After a long illness, Haller died in Los Angeles, on November 26, 2004 at age of 67.[35]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "Tom Haller at Baseball Reference". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c James, Bill (2001). The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 392. ISBN 0-684-80697-5. 
  3. ^ "Tom Haller". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  4. ^ "Tom Haller minor league statistics". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  5. ^ "1962 San Francisco Giants". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  6. ^ "1962 National League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  7. ^ "Tiebreaker Playoff Results". September 30, 2008. Retrieved 15 October 2011. 
  8. ^ "Tom Haller post season batting statistics". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  9. ^ "1963 National League Fielding Leaders". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  10. ^ "Tom Haller Blasts San Francisco Into National League Top Position". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. 28 September 1965. p. 29. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  11. ^ "1965 National League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  12. ^ "1966 All-Star Game". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  13. ^ "1966 San Francisco Giants". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  14. ^ "1966 National League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  15. ^ "1967 All-Star Game". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  16. ^ "1967 National League Fielding Leaders". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  17. ^ "1967 National League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  18. ^ "1967 National League Cy Young Award balloting results". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  19. ^ "1967 National League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  20. ^ a b "Tom Haller Trades and Transactions". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "Hunt, Oliver Dealt To San Francisco By LA For Haller". Tri City Herald. Associated Press. 12 February 1968. p. 13. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  22. ^ "1968 National League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  23. ^ "1972 American League Team Statistics and Standings". Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  24. ^ "Tom Haller's Brother Looks Over Shoulder". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. 15 July 1972. p. 15. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  25. ^ "1972 Tom Haller batting log". Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  26. ^ "1972 American League Championship Series Game 2 box score". Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  27. ^ "1972 American League Championship Series". Retrieved 1 November 2011. 
  28. ^ "Tigers Announce Leshnock Deal; Phils Get Haller". Youngstown Vindicator. United Press International. 26 October 1972. p. 36. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  29. ^ "Haller, Phillies Catcher, Retires". New York Times. 20 January 1973. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 
  30. ^ "Tom Haller fielding statistics". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  31. ^ "Miscellaneous fielding records". The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers. Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  32. ^ "1968 National League Batting Leaders". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  33. ^ "Catchers Who Caught The Most Hall Of Fame Pitchers". Retrieved 28 June 2012. 
  34. ^ "The Encyclopedia of Catchers - Trivia December 2010 - Career Shutouts Caught". The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers. Retrieved 29 December 2015. 
  35. ^ a b c Tom Haller Obituary at The New York Times
  36. ^ "Tom Haller minor league manager statistics". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  37. ^ "Haller joins White Sox". The Telegraph-Herald. United Press International. 10 June 1986. p. 15. Retrieved 31 October 2011. 

External links[edit]