Monday, August 3, 2009

One Slim Moment in Time

Perusing newspaper archives for another glimpse of the Brewers' short-lived "fancy M" uniforms, I found this exemplar in the March 27, 1936 edition of the Milwaukee Journal.

Very cool to see that uniform in action. But even more interesting is the story which surrounds the player wearing it, Jack Price (Slim) Hallett. From the accompanying article (click the picture above to read):
Lake Wales, Fla.—Skimming the cream of the crop of Milwaukee rookies, Harry Strohm, manager of the Clarksdale (Miss) club (Cotton States League), left here Friday morning for his home base with instructions to develop players for the 1937 Brewers. Two of the five are Jack (Slim) Hallett, a promising right handed pitcher, and Gordie Foth, Milwaukee sandlot shortstop. They accompanied Strohm to Clarksdale.
Although the Brewers were themselves a highest-level minor league club, what today we would call AAA, for most of the team's history they operated independently of any Major League baseball team, developing their own talent and maintaining their own farm system.

Hallett played high school ball in his native Toledo before being picked up by the Minneapolis Millers in 1933. He struggled to make the roster and was cut loose. Two years later, Milwaukee signed Hallett as a free agent and assigned him to the Crookston Pirates, the Brewers' Northern League affiliate in Crookston, Minnesota. In Hallett's single season as a Pirate, he went 9-14 with a 7.14 ERA.

He got a chance to join the Brewers as a reliever during the 1935 season, pitching but one single inning and giving up a statistically tidy 1 hit, 1 run and 1 walk. He, along with other rookies, was assigned to one of the Brewers' farm clubs for development. In Hallett's case, it was the top level of the Brewers' farm system, and expectations were high for the "promising right handed pitcher":
"(G)ive me Hallett for one season and I'll turn him back next spring ready for a regular job in the American Association," said Harry.
It didn't quite work out that way.

Hallett pitched seven games for the Clarksdale Ginners, amassing a 1-6 record with an ERA of 6.00 before finding himself sent down to the Fieldale (Virginia) Towlers in the Bi-State League (just as an aside: I love minor league team names). Hallett had a brief stint in Los Angeles with the Chicago Cubs organization before breaking into the Bigs with the Chicago White Sox.

Hallett played part of six seasons in the Major Leagues, with the White Sox, Pirates and Giants before retiring in 1949. Hallett retired to his native Toledo, where he died in 1982.

Funny how things work out - although nobody could have known it at the time, that one brief inning in 1935 would be Slim Hallett's entire career in a Milwaukee Brewer uniform. Fancy M or otherwise.

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