Maybe the thing so many remember, and certainly enjoyed, about longtime high-school baseball coach Tommy Hall was his distinctive voice.
“Man, his voice was the best,” said one of Hall’s former players, Fred Kramer, who broke into quick imitation of his mentor’s speech pattern, as many others also have offered over the years.
Kramer and others have been sharing their memories and offering tributes about Hall, detailing how he was much more than just that unique voice. Hall died the morning of May 3 at age 82 from multiple health complications.
Hall started the Oakton High baseball program and he coached the varsity team for 32 years. He held the same positions at Madison in Vienna and St. John’s in Washington before that, and overall coached prep baseball for 44 years, winning 448 games as a head coach along the way.
His Oakton teams won seven district titles, one region crown and had one state-runner-up finish. The Oakton baseball field is named after Hall, who also worked for many seasons as an Oakton assistant football coach and was on staff as a full-time faculty member as a social-studies teacher, retiring in 1999.
Hall has been inducted into Oakton’s athletic Hall of Fame, the Vienna Baseball Hall of Fame and the Home Plate Club’s Hall of Fame.
Kramer played on Hall’s 1982 region-championship team that also finished second in the state that season.
“Mr. Hall had a great life and passed along his wise knowledge and experiences to his players,” Kramer said. “He made his players feel good about themselves. He always talked straight to me, was fair and up front. He would listen, and he knew how to mentor and motivate me. Mr. Hall really pulled for me.”
Current Oakton head coach Justin Janis played under Hall from 1994 to 1997. Janis said Hall treated his players like men and did not yell or talk down to them.
“He expected you to compete, be tough and play hard,” he said.
Janis also talked about Hall’s wide sense of humor, repeating some of his many classic one-liners.
“If a player was talking instead of practicing, he’d say, ‘You running for office out there?’ If guys had their sleeves rolled up to tan their arms at practice, he’d say, ‘Hey, guns, roll your sleeves down.’ Talking to us about going out on Friday and Saturday nights, he would tell us, ‘You can’t be hootin’ with the owls if you wanna soar with the eagles.’ ”
Hall’s daughter, Karen Hall, made reference to the many messages she and the family have received about her dad, and acknowledged and embraced that many imitate and enjoyed his voice.
“I think everybody loved his voice. We certainly did,” she said.
Scott Rowland followed Hall as Oakton’s head coach, first working under him as an assistant for two seasons.
“Even in his final years, Tommy still had great energy and looked forward to coming to the park every day,” Rowland said. “I will forever be grateful to coach Hall for taking me in as an assistant and trusting me.”
Ironically, the Oakton and Madison baseball teams play the night of May 8 at Madison.
During Hall’s final seasons at Oakton, Don Kildoo was his pitching coach.
“Tommy was great on the field and the players loved him,” Kildoo said. “He was tough and demanding, and applied discipline when needed, and he was respected by the players for that. He was the kind of coach you would want your kid to play for.”
When Pete Bendorf was hired as Oakton’s head football coach in 1992, he remembered Hall being the first to offer whatever help he needed in his new position.
“We formed a friendship, he was a great colleague and resource, and I loved having conversations with him,” Bendorf said.
Later, when Bendorf became the head coach at South County in Lorton, Hall would visit him on occasion during practices.