Going Straight Two Hal

Hal W. Smith was born in 1930 and was a starting catcher in 648 major league regular season games, in a career running from 1955 to 1964.  In 1960, Hal W., playing for the Pirates against the Yankees, hit a Game 7, eighth inning, come-from-behind, three-run homer that might have been remembered as one of the most important hits in World Series history, if it hadn’t been followed an inning later by his teammate Bill Mazeroski’s Series-ending walk-off home run.  Hal W. had originally been signed by the Yankees, but they’d traded him away after the 1954 season, as part of the huge, multi-player deal that brought Don Larsen, among others, to New York.

Hal R. Smith was born about six months after Hal W., was a starting catcher in 484 major league regular season games in a career that ran primarily from 1956 through 1961 and included an appearance in one of the two 1959 All-Star Games.  Hal R. retired from active play after the 1961 season due to a heart problem, but played a few games for the Pirates in 1965, moving briefly from the coaching staff to the roster when the Bucs faced a temporary catcher shortage.

Hal W. played a majority of his career games in the AL, while Hal R. played his whole career in the NL.  But there were two seasons, 1960 and 1961, when they were both in the National League — Hal W. with the Pirates and Hal R. with the Cardinals.  Hal Smith and Hal Smith were the opposing starting catchers in the following eight games:

Cards at Pirates May 19, 1960
Pirates at Cards June 11, 1960
Pirates at Cards June 12, 1960
Pirates at Cards July 27, 1960
Cards at Pirates August 13, 1960
Pirates at Cards August 28, 1960
Pirates at Cards May 26, 1961
Pirates at Cards May 28, 1961

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Rich Johnson
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What the Hal?! I did not know that.

no statistician but
Guest

This was pretty well known back when it was happening. Hal W. was a somewhat better hitter, but they were very similar as players. Both hit a high of 13 HRs, both had low walk and strikeout figures, you could intermix their better seasons and not tell which belonged to which.

Hal W. was platooned with Smoky Burgess in 1960, and together they made one heck of a catcher, although Smoky was that by himself in many seasons.

John Autin
Editor
Retro call for W’s game-7 blast off Jim Coates: “Open the pod bay doors, Hal!” Speaking of the road two Hal, the previous Hal Smith was a Pirates pitcher who tossed a shutout in his first MLB start, caught by Hal Finney. In September 1934, the next-to-last career game for Hal Smith (P) was the 7th career game for 18-year-old Phil Cavarretta. (Last game of the year for both teams.) In May 1955, one of Cavarretta’s last games was one of the first for Hal W. Smith. P.S. Can you imagine the reaction today to a 16-player trade between two… Read more »
no statistician but
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The trade created a lot of noise even then, more for its size than the players involved. Gene Woodling was the biggest name, but he was perceived to be on the downhill slope—incorrectly, as it turned out. Don Larsen was 3-21 for the Orioles the previous season, and it wasn’t a good 3-21. He was the sleeper in the deal for the Yankees, as was Gus Triandos for the Orioles, who took over as backstop for six productive years after a pretty good season at first base in 1955. Bob Turley was the presumed prize, having gone 14-15 and leading… Read more »
John Autin
Editor

nsb, I agree that free agency has reduced the amount of trading, and especially big multi-player deals. But I think FA (plus expanded playoffs) have directly increased in-season trades.

Last year, 17 out of 249 players appearing in 100+ games changed teams mid-season, or 7%. In 2012, it was 9% (22/245) Fifty years ago, less than 5% of such players were swapped in-season (8/172).

no statistician but
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JA: Agreed, but the dynamics of trading is far different now: dollars come into it much more, for one thing. Sal Maglie was traded to the contending Cleveland Indians by the Giants late in 1955. In mid-May of 1956 the flailing Dodgers purchased him from the Indians and, with his 13-5 performance, won the pennant by 1 game. Aside: Having the hated ex-Giant Maglie suddenly become a Dodger was more Faustian than Damn Yankees to lots of Brooklyn fans. Another aside: Maglie pitched a complete game win in the opener of the series that year. His second complete game, the… Read more »
John Autin
Editor

nsb, so glad you mentioned Sal Maglie. Reviewing the Barber’s career reminded me of MLB’s shameful 5-year suspension of Maglie and others who signed with the Mexican League in 1946. Man, was that evil — monopoly baseball at its worst.

Whenever I start to get fed up with modern player salaries, I try to remember all the B.S. the owners pulled when they held the power.

John Autin
Editor

Looks like Hal W. Smith got a hit in all 8 of those featured games, going 11 for 29 with 2 HRs. Hal R. had only 4 hits, but his Cards went 5-3.

Stan Musial started only 2 of the 8 games. In the other 6, he rested against a southpaw SP.

Doug
Guest
Of course, this got me looking for other eponymous opponents. And, I found a player I knew nothing about before. Red Smith was a 3rd baseman for the Dodgers/Superbas and Braves. Played over 1100 games from 1911 to 1919, with 119 OPS+ and 26.8 WAR. The other Red Smith played just 26 games as catcher for the Pirates in 1917 and 1918, and faced Red Smith the 3rd baseman each of the 8 times he played against the Braves. The interesting thing about Red Smith the 3rd baseman is this. Only he, Scott Rolen and George Kell played 997 or… Read more »
John Autin
Editor

The “other” Frank Baker wishes it known that if he’d foreseen being left out of this (or any other) measure of exclusive hot-corner service, he would have refused those 4 PH appearances in 1916 just as he refused to play for the contract offered in 1915.

But he also said he likes Doug’s work.

Richard Chester
Guest

Here is a post of mine from 11-27-2012.
P Dixie Howell and C Dixie Howell were teammates on the 1949 Reds. They formed a battery on at least two occasions, 5-1-49 and 5-8-49.

David Horwich
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On July 8, 2003, Alex “Sea Bass” Gonzalez grounded to Alex S. Gonzalez three times; Alex S. returned the favor by popping up to Sea Bass once.

http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CHN/CHN200307080.shtml

RJ
Guest

Javier (Javy) Lopez, the catcher, went 2-3 with a triple in three plate appearances versus Javier Lopez, the lefty reliever currently with the Giants. They were teammates for a month in September 2006, infuriatingly never forming a battery.

Richard Chester
Guest

Most combined games played by 2 players with the same name (not counting father-son combos).

4088….Frank Thomas
3719….George Burns
2996….Alex Gonzales
2882….Luis Gonzalez
2737….Bob Johnson
2737….Joe Morgan
2492….Billy Williams
2301….Tony Pena
2134….Brian Giles
2066….Pat Kelly

The Tony Pena listing is not the father-son combo. Fangraphs lists the other Tony Pena with 137 games but BR shows him at 313 games. BR game logs confirms the 313 number.

John Autin
Editor

Move over, Brian Gileses. The Bernie Williamses had 2,178 games.

Richard Chester
Guest

Thanks for the correction. The Bernie are on my spreadsheet, I just slipped right over them.

oneblankspace
Guest

Other recent pairs:

Mike Marshall: 1760 (RP and 1B/OF)
Mike Stanton: 1455 (two RP, does not include 489 from the Giancarlo formerly known as Mike)
Brian Hunter: 1699 (1000 even from Brian L, BRTR; 699 from Brian R, BRTL); both were in spring training with the 2001 Phillies

Honorable mention:
Scott Servais (C) 820 + Scott Service (P) 340 = 1160

Doug
Guest

On 8/5/2000, Brian Hunter of the Phillies delivered a pinch-hit single to CF, fielded by Rockies’ CFer Brian Hunter.

Alex Gonzalez and Alex Gonzalez opposed each other as starting shortstops on 6/2-4/2000, 6/8-10/2001, 7/7-8/2003, 7/18-20/2003 and 9/13-15/2004, and as starting 3rd baseman and shortstop on 5/21-22/2005 and 6/23-24/2005. The retired Gonzalez also had his final two plate appearances as a pinch-hitter against the Gonzalez active in 2013.

Richard Chester
Guest

Based on Fangraph data from 1901-2013 I found that the most common shared name is John Sullivan with 5.

Bob Johnson, Bob Smith, Dave Roberts and Tom Hughes each have 4. (BR shows 5 Bob Smiths.)

There are 40 names shared by 3 players.

No guarantee of 100% accuracy here.

Doug
Guest

The 1970s Dave Roberts the pitcher got the better of his namesake, holding him to .174/.208/.174 with zero RBI in 24 PA.

Two of the Tom Hughes were AL pitchers in 1906-09, but were never opposing starters.

Pitcher Bob Smith and outfielder Bobby Smith were briefly teammates on the 1957 Cardinals. Later Bobby went 0 for 2 against Pirate Bob.

Doug
Guest

Shortstop Tony Pena is 0 for 1 against pitcher Tony Pena.

Infielder Luis Gonzalez played his whole career (3 seasons) for Colorado when outfielder Luis Gonzalez was in Arizona, so they will have met numerous times as both were regulars for two of those seasons. These two probably had the most numerous meetings of the eponymous players identified thus far.

Doug
Guest

The two NL pitchers named Pedro Martinez faced each other as batter and pitcher just once. Famous Pedro was retired by the other one. Those two also never had a decision at the expense of the other.

oneblankspace
Guest

Hal Smith was also the name of the actor who played a barber named Floyd (and later appeared on the Andy Griffith Show, but not as the barber named Floyd)

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0808401

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