Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.
I’m not sure what the current major league record is for number of balls fouled off in an at bat . . . if that’s even an official stat.
But on July 1, 1949, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Harry Walker hit 13 foul balls off St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Ted Wilks in one at-bat that stretched for nearly 10 minutes.
The Reds were ahead 9-2 in the seventh inning, when “The Hat” stepped to the plate. At the time he was batting .261.
After letting a low pitch pass for ball one, Walker fouled off the next two pitches, before looking at a high pitch that was ball two.
He fouled off two more, then stepped back from ball three, a high inside pitch. He then fouled off nine straight pitches before smashing a double high off the screen in right-center field. It was reported that some of Walker’s fouls were hard-hit balls.
Later in the game rookie Lloyd Merriman was brought in to replace Walker in centerfield. The Reds beat the Cards 10-2.
Maybe that's how he got his nickname.