Baseball: Brian Hall
February 7, 2003
Brian Hall found a new enthusiasm for the game of baseball last summer. No, he was not touring the country with Team USA or playing in the highly-regarded Cape Cod League. In fact, he wasn't playing baseball at all.
'It was good to have last summer off from baseball,' reflected Hall, who admitted that it was the first time since the eighth grade that he had taken a significant break from the game. 'Being away from game, I appreciated how much I really love baseball. It was good to watch other games and try to incorporate certain things into the way I play.'
It's not that Hall really wanted the time off.
During fall practice a couple of months prior to the 2002 campaign, Hall attempted to make a throw across the infield when his foot gave way and pain rushed into his throwing arm.
Although the end of the regular season was still seven months away, Hall decided to stick it out, play to the best of his ability and do everything he could to get through the 2002 campaign.
'My shoulder felt really bad even early last year,' admitted Hall. 'I just kept trying to play through it. I briefly thought about having surgery during the season but decided to wait until after the year was over because I wanted to be out there and help the team in any way possible.'
Despite the shoulder injury, Hall was a big help in the Cardinal's run to its fourth straight CWS appearance. He led the team with 14 stolen bases in 14 attempts and hit .267 with three homers and 35 RBI, playing in 59 games with 39 starts at various positions often times depending on how much the shoulder was hurting.
'I even played some first base' joked Hall, who made 11 errorless starts at the position. 'I had only started one game in my life at first base prior to last year.'
But, when the season was over something had to give, and that was baseball last summer when Hall had surgery four days after the completion of the College World Series last June.
Stanford's long summers (returning Stanford Baseball players are off for most of September before school starts late in the month) also gave Hall more recovery time prior to the start of fall practice last October. 'I was really excited to get back on the field,' Hall emphasized. 'I wanted to step up my level of play from my first two seasons. Being able to come back from the shoulder injury really made me realize how much the game meant to me and how lucky I really am to be playing at Stanford.'
With a healthy shoulder and two years of experience, Hall has become a full-time starter for the Cardinal at third base this season and is off to a very hot start, pacing the club with a .474 batting average and four stolen bases through its first five games.
'It was a bit frustrating my first two years not playing every day and struggling with the injury,' said Hall. 'I just tried to learn all I could and raise my game from some of the good players I was playing with. This year, I just hope to hold my starting position and help the younger guys develop.'
Hall's desire to give back to the younger guys on the club can be traced back to his prep years in Carlsbad, New Mexico, a town of just 24000 on the Texas-New Mexico border that has spawned three players currently in professional baseball, including Major Leaguers Shane Andrews and Paxton Crawford.
'Those guys have gone back to Carlsbad to help work with some of the younger players in town when they can,' recalled Hall, who vividly remembers Andrews coming back to work with him during his youth. 'That was special when Shane Andrews came back and worked with me. I respect and thank him for that. That was really generous of him, and I hope I can do the same thing for others from my hometown.'
For now, Hall is doing most of his giving back right here at Stanford, a place that has given so much to him both on and off the field.
'I have really learned to be more open about everything since I've been at Stanford,' said Hall, who has been affectionately dubbed 'Cowboy' by current freshman Chris Lewis, a city dweller that attended high school in Irvine. 'I've learned to give everything a chance, including getting to know different types of people, thinking about different ideas, and implementing different techniques of baseball. If things were going wrong back in Carlsbad, I had to fix it right away. Now, I am able to go with flow a little bit more and accept things how they are.'
Things are pretty easy to accept right now if you're Brian Hall.
by Kyle McRae