Mel Hall is a Major League Baseball version of “that guy” for people my age. He never starred, but he was visible. He never played for winning teams but he was a halfway-decent player for bad ones. You probably remember his baseball cards more than remember him playing. The name is just north of the anonymity line in that, when you hear it, it makes you think “oh, yeah, the ballplayer from the 80s,” whereas someone just a notch down from him would require a Baseball-Reference.com search to confirm that, yes, he did play in the bigs.
He’s also at a level where you can be forgiven if you didn’t give him a single thought after he stopped playing. And if you didn’t give him a single thought, it means you missed the fact that he was arrested, charged and convicted of raping multiple young girls — some as young as 12-years-old — during and following his playing career. He’s now in a Texas prison, where he’ll be for at least another 17 years.
Yesterday Greg Hanlon of SB Nation wrote an in-depth look at Mel Hall and his awful crimes. It’s not for the feint of heart. The term “monster” gets used for a lot of bad guys, but it is an understatement in Hall’s case. Hanlon, through an in-depth look at the police and court records and interviews with some of Hall’s victims, explains how Hall used his fame, his friendly, outgoing nature and no small amount of bald-faced lying to get close to the young girls on which he preyed.
One clear takeaway here is that there is real evil in the world. But another one is that Hall couldn’t have done what he did nearly as easily if he had not been a professional athlete and if professional athletes were not treated the way they are treated in our society.