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Hall gaining experience in the Can-Am League

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By The Staff

By BRIAN LANGLEY

Morgan County News

Nate Hall has been playing baseball most of his life. He has had success every step up the way on the diamond.

Hall, a Coalfield resident, is currently getting a shot at the professional ranks, as he plays for the Ottawa Rapidz of the Can-Am League.

He started playing when he was 7 years old with the undefeated dreaded black team at Coalfield in major t-ball. He would move on to play travel ball in Knoxville as a 9-year old.

He would later move on to play with a state wide all-star team at Cooperstown, New York as a 12-year old. Most of that team is now playing professional baseball, including #1 overall draft pick David Price, who recently made his major league debut.

Hall started playing for the Knoxville Thunder when he was 13 and played with them until he was 18. During his time with the Thunder, they were Tennessee AAU champs once and were ranked #2 in the nation at one time.

He played his high school baseball at Knox Webb for Clark Wormsley and was all-state three years and all-region all four years. He was also named Region Player of the Year for two years. Among his top high school accomplishments are 181 career hits, 44 doubles, 36 home runs, 139 runs scored and 158 runs batted in, which all rank as some of the best stats in Tennessee high school baseball history. He also is second to former UT star pitcher and current big-leaguer R.A. Dickey for strikeouts in a state tournament with 21. Dickey fanned 22.

After high school, Hall signed with Western Carolina and enjoyed a solid freshman campaign as the starting third baseman. He led the Southern Conference third basemen with 144 assists.

During the summer between his freshman and sophomore seasons, he played for the Front Royal Cardinals in Virginia’s Shenendoah Valley League. He was an all-north division shortstop.

He then transferred to Pensacola Junior College his sophomore season and started at third base in the prestigious Florida JUCO all-star game.

He then moved on to the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and played his final two seasons there. He wrapped up his college career in strong fashion by being named to the All Colonial Athletic Conference; All Eastern United States 1st Team by American Coaches Association; All Eastern United States 1st Team by the College Sport Writers Association; and All NCAA Regional Tournament 1st Team.

His final collegiate game was a loss to North Carolina in the NCAA regionals.

Hall wasn’t drafted in the 2008 major league draft, but he was called by the Ottawa Rapidz earlier this summer.

The Can-Am League is made up mostly of older players (25-30) that have been released from the major league, AAA and AA teams. Since the pitching in the Can-Am League is so tough, Hall can prove his worth and may be able to skip some levels of pro ball and get traded to a major league club.

Hall was a little bit leery when he first arrived in Ottawa. Earlier this summer, he got up at 4 a.m. to catch a flight out of McGhee Tyson Airport to Syracuse, New York. He was then picked up in a taxi and drove across the Canadian border. There he was searched by guards, and he was then driven to Ottawa Stadium. When he arrived at the park he was given a uniform that didn’t fit, met the manager Tom Carcione, who was smoking a cigarette in the dugout, and he kind of seemed out of place.

“I thought to myself, all the baseball I’ve played has led me to this,” Hall recalled with a laugh.

Hall’s roommate is former Tennessee Smokie player Tanner Watson.

“We kind of hit it off from the start,” Hall said.

Hall has had plenty of highlights during his baseball career and he provided a game-winning hit for Ottawa earlier this season to rank as his top one at the professional level. He was rewarded with a shaving cream pie in the face during his interview on the radio.

He has had the opportunity to meet Cecil Fielder, who manages the Atlantic City Surf in the Can-Am League.

The two biggest adjustments for Hall in the Can-Am League was changing from metal to wood bats and trying to catch some sleep on the bus being on the road all the time.

Heading into the final couple of games of the season, Hall, who plays 3rd base and is a DH, is hitting .263 with 6 doubles, 1 triple, 20 runs and 22 RBI’s in 51 games this season.

“I will never forget this year. I really didn’t know if I would get a chance to play after college, but I’ve had a lot of fun and learned a lot from all the veterans. The older guys really like me and have taken care of me this season,” said Hall.

During a recent series at Nashua in New Hampshire, Hall was warming up before the game and a lady called him over to the stands. She (Anita Owenby) told him she saw in the program that he was from Coalfield, Tennessee and she went on to tell him that she taught school at Coalfield years ago for one year. The next night was the Rapidz’ last night at Nashua and Hall had Owenby an autographed baseball and she had him a goody bag with all kinds of fruits and candies.

“It was neat being able to meet somebody that had a connection back home,” said Hall.

Hall plans to continue playing the game of baseball as long as he can.

“My goal is to get picked up by an affiliated team and to keep playing,” Hall added.

Nate is the son of David and Nancy Hall of Coalfield.