NOTE: The BND has endeavored to identify an objective list of the top 100 St. Louis Cardinals players of all time, based on statistical formulas developed through sabermetrics. We’ll count down the list daily, player by player, until April 4, the day of the Cardinals’ 2019 home opener. The running list and player bios can be found at bnd.com.
NO. 93 BILL HALLAHAN
A soft-spoken lover of arts and theater, “Wild” Bill Hallahan had nothing in common with the legendary gunslinger, Wild Bill Hickok, but the nickname they shared was just as fitting.
Cubs manager Charlie Grimm once said the Cardinals’ pitcher was among the hardest throwers of his era, though Branch Rickey had already observed that Hallahan would struggle to hit the backstop if he was aiming for it. That combination of blazing velocity and inconsistent location made batters as uneasy standing in the box against Hallahan as a poker cheat facing Hickok’s quick draw.
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The left-hander three times led the National League in both walks and wild pitches. He also twice led in strikeouts, once in wins and was the staff ace of a World Series champion.
The wildness was nonetheless a concern early in his career. Hallahan appeared in 19 games for the Cardinals in 1926, including an inning against the Yankees “Murderer’s Row” in the World Series, the team’s first of the modern era. In 56.2 innings, he struck out 28 batters, but also walked 32.
So manager Rogers Hornsby banished Hallahan to the Syracuse Stars of the International League and he didn’t return to St. Louis until Gabby Street became manager three years later in 1929.
His delivery was still untamed, but Hallahan won 15 games in 1930, leading the league for the first time in both walks and strikeouts. It’s a feat he repeated the following year, adding wild pitches to the trifecta.
But his 19 wins and 3.29 ERA were best on a staff that included Hall of Famers Burleigh Grimes and Jesse Haines as well as 18-game winner Paul Derringer.
St. Louis won 101 games and defeated Connie Mack’s Philadelphia Athletics for its second world championship in five years. Hallahan was brilliant in the series, too, allowing just a single run total in winning games 2 and 5. He also saved the game 7 win for Grimes by retiring the last Philadelphia batter.
Hallahan was selected to start for the National League in the inaugural All-Star Game in 1933. True to his wild side, he walked five AL batters and surrendered three earned runs in just two innings, thus becoming the first pitcher credited with an all-star loss.
SEASONS IN ST. LOUIS: 1925-’26, 1929-’36
.578 winning pct. | 93 wins | Avg. 4.4 K and 4.0 BB per 9 IP | 3 WS rings
TOP 100 SCORE: 2.08