Monday, August 22, 2022

Former AL Umpire Bill Haller Dies, Age 87

21-year American League umpire Bill "Fox" Haller, whose career spanned 1961 through 1982, passed away at the age of 87. The Joliet, Illinois-born Haller and brother of Tom, who played in the majors from 1961 to 1972, began umpiring after graduation from Juliet Jr College in 1955 and worked through the Goergia-Florida, New York-Penn, Northwest, and Pacific Coast minor leagues before debuting in the American League for a total of 14 games in 1961.

After a stint in Triple-A's International League in 1962, Haller joined the American League staff permanently in 1963, where he remained for the next two decades. In 1972, he worked a game behind the plate while his brother Tom caught for the Tigers, the only-ever game in which plate umpire and catcher were brothers. 

He was the last umpire to wear a balloon-style (outer) chest protector in a World Series game, which he did in 1982.

After retiring from the AL Staff, Haller joined the league office as a supervisor until 1985 and worked for the Baseball Umpire Development program until 1994.

Haller, who officiated four League Championship Series and four World Series, famously wore a microphone during a Tigers-Orioles game in September 1980, during which he ejected Baltimore manager Earl Weaver for arguing a first-inning balk call.

Weaver was Haller's most common ejectee by far, with the pair combining for five ejections from 1969 through 1982. California Angels skipper Bill Rigney was second-most, with three ejections in 1966 and 1967. In all, Haller finished his career with 71 ejections.

After he retired, the independent/unaffiliated Joliet Jackhammers (now the Frontier League's Joliet Slammers, named for famous Joliet-area prisons) gave away a Bill Haller bobblehead as part of a hometown promotion honoring the veteran umpire.

Haller's sleeve number 1 is currently worn by MLB umpire Bruce Dreckman.


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