Friday, December 1, 2017

Jack Hallett, 1935's Cup of Coffee

This fellow with the slighly uneasy grin is Jack Hallett. He was a right-handed fastball pitcher who was just twenty-one when this picture was taken.

Hallett grew up in Toledo, Ohio. He got his start in the city's amateur leagues. He got a tryout with the Toledo Mud Hens immediately after graduating high school, and then-manager (and future Brewers skipper) Casey Stengel told him "You will be a real pitcher, some day. But forget about becoming a professional pitcher for four or five years." Hallet refined his craft in the low minors before jumping to the Brews for the shortest of careers with the club - coming to Milwaukee partway through the 1935 season, he pitched one inning as a Brewer, giving up one hit, one run, and one walk.

Hallet got picked up by the Cleveland Indians organization, and bopped around the Cleveland and Chicago Cub farm systems before making his major league debut for the Chicago White Sox in 1940. He never had a long tenure on any big-league roster, but kept fighting his way back to the majors. He doggedly carved out a twelve-year career with twenty different clubs, including stints with the White Sox, Pirates, and New York Giants. Not bad for a guy who spent two of his prime years serving in the Navy in the Pacific theater.

As short as his Brewers career was, Hallett is pictured here wearing a similarly short-lived version of the Brewers' uniform, with a fancy "M" on the chest. This was introduced right before the 1935 home opener and lasted just one year.

This uniform represents a transitional stage in baseball uniform evolution; it brings back the cadet collar common in the early decades of the twentieth century, set off with thick soutache piping. We might think that throwback touches are a recent invention, but here we can see a baseball club re-introducing a design element from past decades.

This version of the M, with its fancy geegaws, never caught on in Milwaukee. By 1936, it had been replaced with a block M.

I've wondered if the design might not have been too close to that worn by the Minneapolis Millers, an American Association rival. But whatever the reason, sometimes things just don't last in baseball, and a story doesn't have to be long to be good.

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