By Rubin E. Grant
Josh Hall is a thief.
But he doesn’t steal money or any other stuff. He swipes bases.
No one in the history of Alabama high school baseball has been more successful swiping bases than Homewood’s senior center fielder.
Hall stole five bases on March 14 in an 11-1 victory against John Carroll Catholic to break the Alabama High School Athletic Association career stolen-base record. The five steals pushed his career total to 169, bettering the previous record of 164 steals set by Scottie Burdeshaw of Slocomb from 2005-10.
Hall has since added six more steals, bringing his total to 175.
“It’s a really good feeling to break the record,” Hall said. “It’s a goal I set for myself after I broke the single-season record. And now to do it is awesome.”
Hall set the AHSAA single-season stolen base record with 81 steals in 45 games during his sophomore season, in 2016. He was playing for Randolph in Huntsville, where his dad, Lee Hall, was the head coach.
Homewood hired Lee Hall as its new head coach this season and Josh came along with him, bringing his base-stealing prowess to the Patriots. He had 33 steals, while being caught only once, in Homewood’s first 17 games as the Patriots posted a 12-5 record.
“I just try to get a nice lead that I feel comfortable with,” Hall said. “If I get a good jump, I feel good about my chances. After my first two steps to get going, my speed takes over.”
Hall now has his sights on the National Federation of High Schools national record, which is 210, set by Tim Dressler of Waltonville, Illinois, from 1981 to ‘84. Dressler went on to earn All-America honors at the University of Missouri in the late 1980s.
The 5-foot-9-inch, 175-pound lefty-swinging Hall will continue to get opportunities to steal because he’s off to a sizzling start at the plate. He was batting .531 (26 of 49) and had a .646 on-base percentage thanks to 14 walks after Homewood swept Pinson Valley in a doubleheader last Saturday. He also has scored 27 runs.
“He can handle the bat, bunts the baseball well and he’s strong enough to put balls in the gap,” coach Hall said. “With the way he swings the bat and with his speed, that’s a dangerous combination.”
A First at Bat
Josh Hall hit his first career home run in a 13-3 victory at home against Clay-Chalkville on March 8. He was in disbelief when the ball cleared the right-center field fence.
“When it came off my bat it felt different,” he said. “I really couldn’t believe it. I usually keep the ball on the ground and run. To finally put one out was awesome.”
Hall smacked his second home run a week later against Gardendale.
Hall is enjoying playing for the Patriots, although initially he didn’t like the idea of changing schools.
“When my dad told me we were going to move, I wasn’t for it because it was going to be my senior year,” Hall said. “But it’s been a really easy transition because the guys here opened their arms to me and made me feel like I belong. Now, I feel like I’ve been here since kindergarten.”
Hall has one other goal he would like to accomplish this season as it relates to his dad, who played high school baseball at Berry, now Hoover.
“The year my dad graduated he hit .515 for a single season. I would like to beat his batting average record,” Hall said with a chuckle.
Hall isn’t the only record-setter in his family. His brother Carson, who graduated from Randolph last spring, set the AHSAA career saves record as a pitcher, with 20. He is now a college freshman hurler at Memphis.
Hall is headed to Ole Miss, signing with the Rebels in the fall. He also had offers from Memphis, Wake Forest, Arkansas, ad North Carolina State.
“Ole Miss first contacted me during the summer after my freshman year,” Hall said. “When I went to visit during the fall of my junior year and met all the coaches I just felt like it was the place I was supposed to be.”