Donald Earl Hall, a retired Maryland School for the Deaf human resources worker who was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1963, died of heart disease Jan. 14 at his Windsor Mill home. He was 74.
Born in Baltimore and known as “Don” or “Donnie,” he was the son of Leroy L. Hall, a Westinghouse machinist, and his wife, Deloris, a homemaker who worked for the Glenn L. Martin Co. The family lived in Cherry Hill, Walbrook and Pimlico.
“His parents instilled in him the importance of family. Don was raised surrounded by his siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles,” said his daughter, Dionne Hall of Fayetteville, North Carolina. "There was never a time when family members weren’t around. "
He grew up in Cherry Hill as previously all white schools were being integrated racially. He was bused to Westport Junior High School and was a 1963 graduate of Southern High School, where he was involved in extracurricular activities and was class vice president.
He later attended Coppin State University and Towson University.
Family members said Mr. Hall excelled in sports and was on the Southern varsity basketball and baseball teams.
“The year 1963 was an exciting year for my father,” his daughter said. “He was selected to play on the U.S. All-Star team in the Hearst-sponsored All-Star Classic Baseball Tournament held in New York at Yankee Stadium. In one of his scrapbooks, he reported that playing in the Hearst tournament was ‘one of the happiest moments of his life.’ ”
He played center field and could switch-hit.
Mr. Hall was the subject of news articles and was compared to his idol, Hank Aaron.
“Don’s talents did not go unnoticed,” his daughter said. “The Baltimore Orioles signed Donnie to a minor-league Class A contract at a farm team in Stockton, California.”
A article in the old Baltimore News-Post described him as "a flashy 18-year-old fly-chaser and a speedster."
During the summer of 1965 Mr. Hall enlisted in the Army and competed on a military baseball team, the Frontiersmen. He was covered by the Stars and Stripes military newspaper while he served in the 199th Personnel Service Company. He left the Army in 1968.
He married Paulette McCray in 1968. They met in Baltimore through a cousin and settled on Denmore Avenue.
Mr Hall joined Bethlehem Steel and worked at Sparrows Point.
He was later a child enforcement worker at the Maryland Department of Social Services and moved on the Maryland School for the Deaf in Frederick, where he worked in human resources.
“My father was loved by the students and the staff and worked there for 25 years,” said his daughter.
Mr. Hall retired in October 2007. He received a Governor’s Citation in appreciation of his “outstanding services to the citizens of Maryland.”
“My father loved people and never met a stranger. Once he met you, he treated you like family,” his daughter said. “He was jovial, had a smile and loved to laugh. He had a nickname, “Candyman,” because he always gave out candy wherever he went.”
Mr. Hall enjoyed music and was a weekend disc jockey. He collected Motown music and liked to feature the Supremes, Gladys Knight and the Temptations. He played at Elks lodges and VFW events and family occasions.
“He liked that music so much he named me after Dionne Warwick,” his daughter said.
Mr. Hall was a member with his buddies of an informal social club, the IHOPers Crew. They met for breakfast on Liberty Road and sometimes stayed for lunch to talk, laugh and enjoy each other’s company.
He was a Ravens enthusiast.
He played amateur fast-pitch softball at Druid Hill Park and was a football and basketball referee in the Baltimore City Public Schools athletic program.
A funeral will be held 11 a.m. Tuesday at the United Baptist Church, 1615 E. Eager St.
In addition to his daughter, survivors include a brother, Larry Hall of Woodlawn; twin sisters, Linda Shern of Frederick and Lynne Matthews of Baltimore; and a grandson, Derrick Hall of Fayetteville, North Carolina. His marriage ended in divorce.