Summary

Birth:
22 Oct 1918 1
Pascagoula, MS 2
Death:
08 Aug 1999 1
Birmingham, AL 2
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Personal Details

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Full Name:
Harry William Walker 2
Full Name:
Harry Walker 1
Also known as:
Harry The Hat 2
Birth:
22 Oct 1918 1
Pascagoula, MS 2
Death:
08 Aug 1999 1
Birmingham, AL 2
Burial:
Elmwood Cemetery, Birmingham, AL 2
Residence:
Last Residence: Leeds, AL 1
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Social Security:
Card Issued: Unknown Code (PE) 1
Social Security Number: ***-**-2970 1

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Stories

Harry Walker, 80, Is Dead; A Fidgeter With a Purpose

Harry (the Hat) Walker, who made baseball history twice when he won the National League batting title in 1947, died Sunday at University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham. Walker, who lived in Leeds, Ala., was 80.

The cause was complications from a stroke, his family said.

Walker, a left-handed-hitting outfielder, was the only National League player to win a batting championship after playing for two teams during the season. He played 10 games for the St. Louis Cardinals, with a .200 average, and 130 games with the Philadelphia Phillies, hitting .371, en route to capturing his 1947 batting title with an overall average of .363.

That accomplishment also produced the only brother combination to win batting championships. Dixie Walker, Harry's older brother, won the National League batting title in 1944 when he hit .357 playing the outfield for the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The hugely popular Dixie Walker was the Peepul's Cherce, in the Brooklynese of the day, while Harry was known as the Hat because he was forever fidgeting with his cap at the plate, supposedly wearing out at least a dozen hats a season.

 

''When I step away from the batter's box, fix my hat and my hair, I relax my muscles,'' he said, ''and maybe I get the pitcher and catcher upset.''

Walker's most memorable at-bat came against the Boston Red Sox at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis in Game 7 of the 1946 World Series. With the scored tied, 3-3, with two out in the eighth inning and Enos Slaughter on first base, he hit a drive to left-center field that appeared to be a single. But center fielder Leon Culberson, replacing the injured Dom DiMaggio, made a weak relay throw to shortstop Johnny Pesky, who hesitated before throwing home. Slaughter's ''mad dash'' scored the Series-winning run as Walker, who hit .412 in the Series, wound up with a double.

A man who loved to talk, Walker was forever discoursing on matters ranging from his hitting theories to the hard-nosed play of the Cardinals' old Gas House Gang to his 12 factors for success (attitude, initiative and adaptability among them).

Walker became one of baseball's best-known batting instructors. ''The secret is waiting,'' he said. ''Stroke the ball, inside out. The only kind of guy who should try to pull the ball is a guy who can hit you 40 homers a year.''

Walker hit only 10 in his career.

Harry William Walker was born in Pascagoula, Miss., and grew up in Birmingham, a son of Ewart (Dixie) Walker, who pitched for the Washington Senators, and a nephew of Ernie Walker, an outfielder with the St. Louis Browns.

He made his debut with the Cardinals in 1940, played on their World Series-winning team of 1942 and pennant-winning club in 1943, then spent two years in Army service, winning a Bronze Star fighting in Germany with a reconnaissance unit.

Walker hit .237 in the 1946 season, and when he got off to a slow start in 1947, he was sent to the Phillies, then went on a tear to capture the batting title. Dale Alexander, who led the American League in batting in 1932 with a .367 average, playing for the Tigers and Red Sox, was the only other man to win a batting crown appearing with two teams.

Walker later played for the Cubs, the Reds and the Cardinals again and had a .296 batting average in 11 seasons.

He was named the Cardinals' manager in May 1955, then was dismissed at season's end after a seventh-place finish. Walker also managed the Pittsburgh Pirates (1965-67) and the Houston Astros (1968-72), but never finished higher than third place. He later worked in the Cardinals' organization and spent eight years as baseball coach at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

He is survived by his wife, Dot; three daughters, Carole Miller, Barbara Muir and Mary Peterson, all of Leeds, and four grandchildren.

Though a fine hitter, Walker was overshadowed by his Hall of Fame teammates on the Cardinals, Stan Musial and Slaughter, and perhaps by his brother Dixie. But he never grew tired of celebrating the life of a baseball player.

''You couldn't worry about what Musial was doing,'' he once said. ''You've got to enjoy the game, love putting the uniform on. You have to perform each day, because what you did yesterday is history.''

Harry Walker Military Service

       

 

Date and Place of Birth: October 22, 1916 Pascagoula, Mississippi

Died: August 8, 1999 Birmingham, Alabama
Baseball Experience: Major League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Unknown
Military Unit: 65th Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized), 65th Infantry Division

US Army

Area Served: European Theater of Operations

 

Harry Walker was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on October 22, 1916 - a member of a distinguished baseball family. He was the son of former Washington Senators’ pitcher Ewart “Dixie” Walker and the brother of Fred “Dixie” Walker, like Harry a left-handed hitting outfielder, and one-time National League batting champion.


Walker earned his nickname from his habit during at-bats of continually adjusting his cap between pitches. He began his career in professional baseball in 1937 and first appeared for the Cardinals in 1940, playing seven games and batting a lowly .185. He was back with St. Louis the following year for another seven games, but played 74 games in 1942 and batted a superb .314. In 1943, Walker was the Cardinals’ regular left fielder appearing in 148 games, producing a .294 batting average and appearing in the World Series.

“The next morning after the Series,” Walker told author Richard Goldstein, “Al Brazle and I were inducted in the Army at Jefferson Barracks [Missouri]. Originally we thought we were going down to Memphis to an air base, but it seems that Pete Reiser’s troop commander at Fort Riley, Kansas, had a big pull at Jefferson Barracks. So we went to Fort Riley."

Walker was a private at the Cavalry Replacement Training Center (CRTC) at Fort Riley. In February 1944, he was taken seriously ill with spinal meningitis. “I almost died with it,” he recalled. But Walker recovered sufficiently to play for the CRTC Centaurs baseball team. Reiser – Centaurs manager - had an impressive line-up that included Brazle, Ken Heintzelman, Lonnie Frey, Murry Dickson, Joe Garagiola and Rex Barney. The Centaurs played in the 1944 Kansas Victory League in Wichita which consisted of four service teams and two factory clubs. “All players here at camp do a full day’s work,” Reiser assured the Ogden Standard-Examiner on July 26, 1944. “We work out from four to six each night unless it’s a game.”

On July 27, 1944, the Centaurs played a War Bond game against the Toledo Mud Hens to raise $500,000 in bond sales for the purchase of a B-29 Superfortress bomber. The Centaurs won the game 11-10 as the Mud Hens committed six errors. In August 1944, the Centaurs competed in the National Semi-Pro championship tournament but were knocked out in the early rounds. The Sherman Field Flyers, based at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, were the eventual winners behind the pitching of Herman Besse.

In September 1944, Walker, along with major leaguers Brazle, Heintzelman, George Archie and George Scharein, were assigned to the 65th Reconnaissance Troop (Mechanized), 65th Infantry Division at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Together they were sent overseas to Europe with the 65th Infantry Division. “We stayed pretty much together all through, went about five hundred miles in combat,” said Walker.

Walker earned a Bronze Star for "meritorious service in connection with military operations" and a Purple Heart for wounds received on March 22, 1945. At one time Walker's unit was ordered to hold a bridge and stop German troops trying to get across. Manning a machine gun on a Jeep, Walker was faced with an enemy that refused to stop. "So that's when I had to start shooting," he told author Frederick Turner, "and I just cut through the whole mess, and they were scattered everywhere, firing back and forth at you, and you're just out there on point like a sitting duck."

On another occasion he was on patrol when he ran into three German guards. "They came within ten feet of us," he recalled. "The only thing that saved us was they thought we were Germans retreating from fighting. Those three guards walked up to us, and one of them asked me, in German, where the Americans were. I asked them, in English, to surrender. Instead, he threw his rifle up in my face. I had a .45 caliber revolver, one that I'd bought myself ... I shot all three Germans. Five shots, and all five hit them. But it was close. That rifle was only about four feet from me when I started shooting. What saved me was that he was trying to get his safety bolt off. He couldn't get it off before I was able to get him."

Days later the war in Europe was over and Walker's next assignment was to organize baseball games for the troops. He located earthmoving equipment in Czechoslovakia and built a ballfield in Linz, Austria. The 65th Infantry Division baseball team clinched the II Corps championship title before being defeated in the Third Army play-offs. But for Walker, the baseball season was not over. He joined the 71st Infantry Division Red Circlers along with Bob Ramazzotti, Ancil Moore, Johnny Wyrostek, Garland Lawing, Ewell Blackwell, Al Brazle, Russ Kern, Milt Ticco, Herb Bremer, Bill Ayers and Jimmy Gladd. Walker, playing centerfield, helped the team win the American League division of the Third Army baseball league and a five-game Third Army Championship Series followed in August 1945 against the National League division winners - the 76th Infantry Division Onaways. With two shutouts by Blackwell - including a no-hitter in the second game - the Red Circlers advanced to the Army Ground Force Championship Series and easily put aside the 29th Infantry Division in three games to move on to the ETO World Series against the OISE All-Stars from France. 

In front of crowds of 25,000-plus at Soldiers’ Field in Nurnberg, Germany, the Red Circlers (representing the Third Army) won the first game, 10-6, before losing two straight to Sam Nahem's All-Stars. In the fourth game Walker helped even the series with a two-run home run in the first inning to help the Red Circlers to a 5-0 win behind the five-hit pitching of Bill Ayers. The celebrations, however, were short-lived as the OISE All-Stars came back the next day with a 2-1 win to clinch the ETO World Series title.

In October 1945, Walker with teammates Blackwell, Lawing, Heintzelman, Maurice Van Robays and Benny Zientara joined the OISE All-Stars to play the Mediterranean champions in Leghorn, Italy.

After two years of military service, Walker returned to the Cardinals in 1946. He played 112 games and batted just .237, but by 1947 he was back to his pre-war form, if not better, and led the National League with a .363 batting average.

Walker remained in the major leagues as a player until 1951, and managed at the major league level in 1955, when he took over the Cardinals from Eddie Stanky. He managed Pittsburgh from 1965 through mid-1967 and Houston from 1968 through late 1972. After working as a scout and highly successful hitting instructor, Walker returned home to Leeds, Alabama in 1979 and became the first head coach of the University of Alabama at Birmingham baseball program. He held that position until his retirement in 1986. 

Harry Walked passed away in Birmingham on August 8, 1999. He was 82 years old.

Thanks to the late Harry Walker, W P Sims of the 71st Infantry Division Association and Robert Patton of the 65th Infantry Division Association.

 

Walker Brothers

Fred (1910-1982) and Harry Walker (1916-1999), who resided for most of their lives in and around BirminghamJefferson County, are the only brothers to have won Major League Baseball batting titles thus far. They both also appeared in the All-Star Game and World Series and played roles in the integration of baseball and in the development of the player pension plan and player representation. Fred was born in Villa Rica, Georgia, on September 24, 1910, and Harry was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on October 22, 1916. Their parents were Flossie Vaughan and Ewart Gladstone ("Dixie") Walker. The Walkers grew up in a baseball family. Their father pitched for the Washington Senators from 1909-1912 and roomed with famed pitcher Walter Johnson, and their uncle, Ernest Walker, was an outfielder with the St. Louis Browns from 1913-1915. As a young teenager, Fred "Dixie" Walker, worked for the Tennessee Coal, Iron and Railroad Company and played on the company team in addition to playing in the Birmingham city  Fred "Dixie" Walker sandlots. He was initially signed to a minor league contract by the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association. He was acquired by the New York Yankees in 1930 after he hit .401 for the Greenville, South Carolina, Spinners in the Class B South Atlantic League. Fred debuted with the New York Yankees in 1931 and, after hitting 15 home runs in 1933 in only 328 at bats, was considered a potential heir to an aging Babe Ruth. A series of injuries to his shoulder, however, diminished his throwing ability and his power. As a consequence, he played in only 131 games with the Yankees between 1931 and 1936. With the arrival of Joe DiMaggio in New York in 1936, Fred was expendable and was traded to the Chicago White Sox, where he hit .302 in 1937. He again injured his shoulder and was traded to the Detroit Tigers, for whom he hit .308 in 1938 but lost virtually all of his power-hitting ability. In 1939, he tore cartilage in his knee and was placed on waivers in mid-season; he was then signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Nicknamed "the People's Cherce" ("choice" in the Brooklyn dialect), Fred became a fan favorite soon after joining the Dodgers in 1940. In his eight seasons with the team (1940-1947), he failed to hit over .300 only once (.290 in 1942), won the National League batting title with a .357 average in 1944, was named to the National League All-Star team five times (1943-1947), and appeared in two World Series (1941 and 1947). An outfielder, Fred was so respected by his peers that he was selected as the National League's first player representative and was sent along with American League representative Johnny Murphy of the New York Yankees to meet with the owners when the first players' pension plan was devised in 1946. At his steadfast insistence, the owners were persuaded to keep television World Series revenues in the plan, insuring a constant revenue stream. The breaking of the color barrier by Jackie Robinson in 1947 proved to be the most controversial event of Fred's career. He was at home in Alabama because of a family illness when he learned that some of his Dodger teammates had petitioned against bringing Robinson up. Fred then sent a letter to Dodgers' executive Branch Rickey requesting that he be traded for the good of the team and himself. As the owner of a hardware and sporting goods store in then-segregated Alabama, Walker felt uncomfortable with Robinson on the team. Rickey attempted unsuccessfully to trade Fred during the 1947 season, but Robinson's play that year gained Fred's grudging respect, and eventually he requested that Rickey return his letter. At season's end, Fred told the Sporting News that no other player had done more to put the Dodgers in the pennant race than Robinson and that he was everything Branch Rickey said he would be when he came up from the minor leagues. At the end of 1947, Rickey allowed the Pittsburgh Pirates to claim Fred Walker off waivers for $1.00 as part of a larger deal. Fred ended his playing career with Pittsburgh in 1948. In 18 seasons, he finished with 105 home runs, 1,023 runs batted in, and a lifetime average of .306. Harry Walker began playing independent league baseball in the coal mining leagues at Jenkins, Kentucky, in 1936. The following year he played for the Tiffin Mudhen's a Class D minor league team in the Ohio State League, where he finished second in hitting with a .370 average. Unwilling  Harry "the Hat" Walker to accept a $25 per month pay cut for the 1938 season, Harry was released. He bounced around the minors until he was drafted out of the Cleveland organization by the Philadelphia Phillies and was assigned to the Class B Pensacola Fliers, where he led his team in hitting and helped them win the Southeastern League championship. At a time when he was making $150 per month, the Phillies offered Harry a major league contract with a $25 per month cut. At the end of the season, Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis declared Harry a free agent. In 1940, he signed with the St. Louis Cardinals for $2,500. With the Cardinals' minor league Columbus, Ohio, Red Birds, Harry hit 17 home runs, knocked in more than 70 runs, and hit over .300. At the end of the season, he made his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals. Because the Cardinals had a number of talented players, Harry was returned to the minors in 1941 and led the Red Birds to the Little World Series Championship, during which he hit three home runs and drove in nine runs in six games. His walk-off home run capped the series for the Red Birds. Immediately after his last game, Harry drove to Brooklyn to watch brother Fred play in the World Series against the New York Yankees. The rivalry between the Dodgers and the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1940s was so intense that the brothers dared not speak with one another on the field. Unlike Fred, who had chronic knee and arm injuries, Harry was subject to the draft and was inducted into the U.S. Army following the 1943 World Series. Initially sent to Fort Riley, Kansas, where he played baseball with other major leaguers, he finally was assigned to the 65th Infantry Division, serving as a machine gunner in a mechanized reconnaissance unit. Walker's unit landed in the European theater in January 1945 and between March 5 and May 9 as part of Gen. George S. Patton's Third Army, he saw constant combat as the force marched through the Saar region on the border between France and Germany, across the Rhine and Danube rivers on its way into Austria. Walker, who had several face-to-face encounters with the enemy, was awarded both a Bronze Star and Purple Heart. After the war ended, Walker supervised the building of a baseball field in Linz, Austria, and participated in several baseball tournaments held to entertain occupation troops. The Cardinals won the National League pennant in 1946 and defeated the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. Harry Walker redeemed a sub-par season by hitting .412 in the series and batting in Enos Slaughter with the winning run in the decisive seventh game. The high point of Walker's career came the following season when, after a trade to the Philadelphia Phillies, he won the National League batting title with a .363 average. Walker later played for the Chicago Cubs, the Cincinnati Reds, and the Cardinals again, compiling 10 home runs, 214 runs batted in, and a .296 career lifetime batting average in a career that officially ended in 1955. Both brothers continued in baseball after their playing days ended. During the 1950s, Fred managed the Atlanta Crackers (1950-1952), the Houston Buffaloes (1953-1954), the Rochester Red Wings (1955-1955), and the Toronto Maple Leafs (1957-1959), winning pennants in 1950 and 1957. From 1960 through 1982, he was a coach for the Cardinals and a scout and coach for the Milwaukee/Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers. Fred Walker married Estelle Shea Walker, and they had six children. He died in Birmingham, Jefferson County, on May 17, 1982, and was buried in the Elmwood Cemetery there. Harry Walker managed in the major leagues with the St. Louis Cardinals (1955), the Pittsburgh Pirates (1965-1967), and the Houston Astros (1968-1972). He worked as a scout with the St. Louis Cardinals and initiated the baseball program at the University of Alabama Birmingham, where he served as its coach from 1979-1986. Harry married Dorothy Fulmer, and they had four children. Harry died in Leeds, Jefferson County, on August 8, 1999, and was buried in the Cedar Grove Cemetery in Leeds. 

- See more at: http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-3115#sthash.kINSl8t8.dpuf

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