Home | About | Pre WWI | WWI | WWII | Korea | Vietnam | Post Vietnam | Non Wartime | Wounded | Contact Us | Search

Hal Simpson

Ballplayers Wounded in Combat

 

Date and Place of Birth: January 19, 1918 Dalby Springs, TX
Date and Place of Death:    July 1, 1984 New Boston, TX
Baseball Experience: Minor League
Position: Outfield
Rank: Staff Sergeant
Military Unit: Company G, 95th Infantry Divsion US Army
Area Served: European Theater of Operations

Halbert M. "Hal" Simpson was born on January 19, 1918, in Dalby Springs, Texas. His parents, Halbert and Sue, were from Alabama, and Halbert, Sr., operated a farm in Texas. Simpson was a standout in baseball and football at New Boston High School, and began his professional career with the Marshall Tigers of the Class C East Texas League in 1936, playing 10 games and batting .372.

The left-handed hitting outfielder played 146 games with Marshall in 1937 and batted .293 with 118 RBIs. He followed that with a .302 batting average and 125 RBIs in 139 games for the Tigers and was purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Simpson was with Knoxville for spring training in 1939, but optioned to the Macon Peaches of the Class B South Atlantic League for the regular season and batted .346 in 117 games. The 21-year-old's career looked to be on a promising path, but it nearly came to a tragic end shortly after the 1939 season ended. In October, Simpson was severly injured in an automobile accident. He suffered a dislocated hip and a fractured pelvis, spending a number of weeks in hospital.

Recovered enough to play, but with injuries that would remain with him throughout his career, Simpson joined the Pirates at their spring training camp in San Bernardino, California, before being optioned to the Albany Senators of the Class A Eastern League, who were still at their spring training camp in Barnwell, South Carolina.

There was a lot of hype around the hard-hitting Texan coming to Albany, but he was struck with a fever illness at the spring camp and bed-ridden for much of the time. When the team headed north to start the season, Simpson was still not fully recovered. In 11 games he was batting just .212, and was returned to the Pirates. His parent cluib sent him to Williamsport - also an Eastern League team - where he played 87 games and was able to raise he season average to .246.

Despite the slump, Simpson was summoned to join the Pirates at the end of 1940. "I never in this world expected the Pittsburgh club to show any more interest in me after my year with Willaimsport and Albany," he told Con Heffernan of the Albany Times-Union in April 1941. "I had about given up on myself and was wondering if I could even get a job in any league next year.

"Then one day I was standing in the Williamsport club office when the mail came in. Manager [Fresco] Thompson got a letter. He stood there reading it awhile and then said, 'Maybe this will interest you, Simpson.' He handed it to me and I saw that it was from the Pittsburgh club and it said that they were recalling me. I nearly fainted.

"I joined the Pittsburgh club for the last two weeks of the season and travelled with them. Then this spring they had me report at their training camp at San Bernardino, California, and Frankie Frisch was really swell to me. When I left to join Albany a couple of weeks ago, I said I guessed he'd never see me any more, but Frisch said, 'Simpson, you'll be back up here!' The way I was treated by everybody after my bad year certainly gave me back my confidence and I'm going to have a good year this time. I'm in good shape and do you know something? I think I'm swifter than I was any time last year, I'm going to have a good year or get killed trying."

Simpson travelled from California to Albany with teammate and future Hall of Famer, Ralph Kiner. He played 131 games in 1941, and batted .279 (Kiner played 141 games and also batted .279), but in late August, with the season at an end, Simpson was surprisingly given his release by Albany. Comissioner Landis had told the Pirates they must recall Simpson, or release him outright. Because the Pirates chose not to recall him, Albany were forced to hand the 23-year-old his release.

Simpson entered military service at Camp Wolters, Texas, in February 1942. He was assigned to the 95th Infantry Division and served in Europe. In late 1944, he was awarded the Silver Star.

"S/Sgt. Halbert Simpson," explained the Stars and Stripes in late 1944, "led his squad through heavy machine-gun fire in an effort to eliminate a machine-gun that was holding up most of Co. G's advance. Though wounded and in an exposed position which prevented evacuation, without any regard for his own safety Sergeant Simpson urged his men on until they reached protective cover."

Simpson received the Purple Heart for a bullet wound to his left leg. He was was shipped home to Texas at the beginning of 1945.

He was now 27 years old and believed that the leg wound, together with a dislocated hip suffered in the auto accident of 1939, would slow him up too much for a serious shot a pro ball, but he decided to give it a try anyway.

In 1946, Simpson, no longer under contract with the Prates, signed with the Texarkana Bears of the Class C East Texas League (only 20 miles from where he was living in New Boston, TX). He was with the team only a short while before joining the Greenville Majors of the same league and batted .292 in 114 games with 107 RBIs and 21 home runs. Simpson had proved, to himself and others than he could still play. He rejoined Texarka (now a Class B Big State League team) in 1947, and batted a whopping .379 in 141 games with 167 RBIs and 31 home runs.

Aged 30, he made the jump to AA ball with the Texas League's Shreveport Sports in 1948 and batted .282, joining the Little Rock Travelers of the Class AA Southern Association in 1949, and batting .345 with 28 home runs. This was the beginning of a six-year relationship with Little Rock, during which time he became a fan favorite and would play 802 games and hit 106 home runs.

In 1955, Simpson joined the Tyler Tigers and the Port Arthur Sea Hawks of the Big State League. He became player-manager with the Roswell Rockets of the Class B Southwestern League in 1957, and ended his career, aged 39, with Lake Charles, Corpus Christi and Wichita Falls.

In an 18-year minor league career that spanned three decades, Simpson played 2,000 games and hit over 250 home runs.

Hal Simpson operated a gas station in New Boston, Texas, after his playing days and passed away on July 1, 1984. He was 66 years old and is buried at Ringwood Cemetery in New Boston.

Date Added December 28, 2017

Can you add more information to this biography and help make it the best online resource for this player? Contact us by email

Read Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice Through The Years - an online year-by-year account of military related deaths of ballplayers

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice is associated with Baseball Almanac

Baseball's Greatest Sacrifice is proud to be sponsored by

Big League Chew