Harry "The Hat" Walker was UAB's first baseball coach (1978-86)
Jan. 22, 2001
BOTTOM OF THE NINTH: BOOK TELLS THE STORY OF HARRY "THE HAT" WALKER
"Bottom of the Ninth: An Oral History on the Life of Harry `The Hat' Walker" (2000, Writer's Showcase presented by Writer's Digest) tells the story of baseball legend Harry Walker, whose game winning hit in the 1946 World Series gave St. Louis the victory over Boston.
Highlights in Walker's life include his National League batting title in 1947, his career with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Philadelphia Phillies, and the Chicago Cubs, and his successful management of three National League teams. In addition, Walker became a decorated hero in World War II, and all of these events are told through the eyes of Walker's friends, players, co-workers and even Walker himself. Here Walker recalls his childhood passion for baseball:
"I don't know when it started, but I know I carried a bat around with me when I was four or five years old. I've got a picture of me with my bird dog, with me holding a baseball bat, when I was probably about 10 years old. When I was a kid, that was my life... the bird dog and the bat."
When Walker left professional baseball for good in 1978, he returned home to Birmingham and took a job as the UAB's first baseball coach. That's where the book's author, Larry Powell, Ph.D., a UAB associate professor of communication studies and avid baseball fan, met Walker for the first time in November 1998. Following that chance meeting, Walker agreed to let Powell write his autobiography. But Walker died Aug. 8, 1999 at the age of 80, before Powell finished his work, so the project became a biographical oral history.
"Harry was a top-notch baseball player and an even better baseball teacher," says Powell. "He understood the game and knew how to teach it to others. It was his passion. He could talk baseball with anybody - the little leaguer or the major leaguer."