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.''