Wednesday, November 08, 2006

November 8th, 1969

Shane Halter Born

A rather basic review of Shane Halter's career numbers does not suggest that he is anything special as a ballplayer. He played eight seasons as a utility man. Played for the Royals, Mets, Tigers and Angels (in that order) and while both the Mets and Angels were playoff teams while he played for them, Halter never saw time in the post-season. He hit .246 for his career and was a regular just once: for the 2002 Tigers at shortstop.

But, as I have long argued, every player has an interesting story when you look into it, and for Halter, one doesn't even have to look very hard. In 2000 on the Fourth of July, Halter took over for Brad Ausmus behind the plate during a Tigers' blow out of the Devil Rays. Halter had never caught before in the Major Leagues but was evidently the emergency catcher and manager Luis Pujols--himself a former catcher--evidently wanted to give his back-up backstop some time. This experience gave Halter the unique claim to be able to say he had played all nine positions in a game at one point or another, having served in the other "odd" role (pitcher) during time with the Royals.

Halter was not content with this however, and had an idea that could be implemented at the end of another awful Tiger season. (As an aside, the Tigers' trip to the World Series this year is even more shocking given that in the previous ten seasons they'd lost ninety or more games eight times and a hundred or more three times.) Halter wanted to play all nine positions in one game, a feat only managed twice previously. On October 1st, Halter did it, as the Tigers' portion of this boxscore reflects. Incredibly, despite playing all nine positions and seemingly being in the game purely for the novelty, Halter actually doubled with none out in the bottom of the ninth and came around to score the winning run on a Hal Morris single.

There you are then, the career of Shane Halter--like so many others--with a story that can't be seen merely by looking at his stats but which is worth hearing.

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