For as long as he can remember, Brent Hall has wanted to be involved in the game of baseball. After following that desire for several decades, he’s now proud to call himself “a baseball man.”
“That’s who I am,” Hall said. “Most of my life revolves around baseball and it’s on my mind most of the time.”
Hall was born and raised in Houston and is a graduate of Houston High School. He was a four-year starter during his days with the Tigers (at shortstop and pitcher), and was one of the leading hitters on a team that won a district championship in his senior year in 1992.
Hall went on to play college baseball at multiple schools. When he was a junior and starting second baseman at Evangel University in Springfield, the Crusaders won the Heart of America Conference championship in 1996 – the only league crown in school history. Hall earned All-Conference honors in both years he played at Evangel, and was team captain in his senior season.
While he was at his playing peak, Hall harbored some hope of playing professional baseball and frequented summer tryout camps where pro scouts could be found. But during a particular Mickey Owen camp in Miller, Mo. (run by the Cleveland Indians), he was confronted with a stark reality.
“I went to the scout and told him I never really got any feedback,” Hall said. “He said ‘there are 50 players like you.’ I got a little excited because I was thinking he meant in the country. But that man humbled me that day, because he said, ‘in this four-state region.’”
Given a new perspective, Hall turned his focus toward the coaching side of the game.
“I shifted gears into just being around baseball, because that’s who I’ve always been,” he said, “and I’ve never looked back.”
After graduating from college, Hall spent a year as a teacher at Cabool High School and helped launch the school’s baseball program as an assistant coach in the late 1990s. He then took a position in the Houston School District (as a middle school P.E. instructor and high school weight lifting instructor) and became the lead Baseball Tiger when he was only 21.
“I was pretty green,” he said.
Now 46, Hall has been at the helm of HHS baseball ever since, and next year will be his 25th. He has also been the district’s athletic director for the past five years, and has in the past spent about 10 seasons as HHS softball head coach and several seasons leading the boys basketball team. Hall has also helped out with the HHS football program and is still a basketball assistant coach, but his heart lies on the baseball diamond.
Really, it always has. Hall’s dream of becoming a professional baseball player began when he was a young boy. He credits his father, Gary, for mentoring him during his early days on the ball field.
“He always coached me until I got to high school,” Hall said, “and then he turned me over to the high school coaches and said, ‘my job’s done, and I’m just going to enjoy watching you play.’”
Hall also got a lot of help developing his game from local resident Harvey Carter, who has a field at HHS named after him.
“He volunteered a lot of time helping all the different age groups before there was summer school or any of that,” Hall said. “I learned a lot from him.”
Hall’s current HHS squad includes his son, Garyn, who will be a junior in the coming school year and is the Tigers’ pitching ace and – like his dad – also plays shortstop. He was one of six Tigers to bat over .300 in 2021 and set a school record for stolen bases in a single season with 33.
Hall said Garyn has wanted to be on the baseball field since he was about four years old, and watching him excel at the high school level is almost indescribable.
“It’s very emotional and rewarding,” he said.
Hall had the pleasure of coaching his daughter, Kameron, during her high school softball playing days.
“I really enjoyed that, too,” he said.
It’s safe to say that countless youngsters and adults alike have learned valuable lessons from the game often referred to as “America’s favorite pastime.”
“Things like dealing with adversity and working with others are things I learned on the baseball field,” Hall said. “The game teaches a lot of life lessons, like how to be part of something that’s bigger than yourself. We all have to make sacrifices in life, and out here you may not get to be on the field as much as you want or at the position you want, and you’re going to struggle at times, but how you deal with things like that determines your character and what kind of person you’re going to be.
“It’s easy to act right when things are going your way, but how you respond when things don’t go your way determines your true character.”
Hall’s career record coaching baseball at HHS is 328-215.
“Other than my marriage, my family and the birth of my children, baseball has provided the biggest moments of my life,” he said. “And the game has helped me develop some great relationships over the years; I still talk to the guys I played with in college, and if I travel and see somebody, it’s because of a relationship that started with baseball.”
Hall makes sure that the HHS baseball program includes a lot of parent and community involvement.
“It’s a family atmosphere,” he said.
HHS has hosted the last two district tournaments the Tigers have played in.
“I’m proud of the facilities we have here,” Hall said. “When I got here, it was one of the worst – if not the worst – fields in the area. Now it’s one of the best.”
Getting paid to be around baseball is the fulfillment of Hall’s most basic desire.
“Like I tell my two kids who are old enough to have a conversation with, whatever you do in life, it’s best if it’s something that doesn’t make you feel like you’re going to work every day,” he said. “I’ve been fortunate enough to have a job where I’m not going to work every day. I enjoy teaching and it keeps me young. I kind of feel like a kid.”
While coaching obviously takes a commitment, playing baseball does, too.
“It’s not for everybody,” Hall said. “I’ve got a big heart, and I always want to help out any kid. But if you’re truly going to be good at something, there’s a huge sacrifice involved, and it’s not for everybody to be able to make those sacrifices.
“I usually don’t weed kids out; they usually weed themselves out. If they can’t put in the time and do what it takes to be a member of a team, or if they’re not able to put others ahead of themselves, then it may not be for them.”
Hall said he values the teamwork aspect of baseball above the rest.
“I’ve learned a lot about the game over the years,” he said, “but to me the most important part is getting a group of kids to work together and to buy into not only me, but each other. I think the team aspect is more important than the skill, and you can accomplish a lot more if you’re together.
“I’ve always made that part of the foundation of my teams, and we very seldom struggle to have a group of guys who don’t get along and who don’t serve each other. They’re always loyal to me, to each other and to the game, and that’s what I try to preach.”
Hall calls himself “passive by nature,” but says he can bring the heat when he feels it’s necessary.
“Guys who have played for me say I’m one of the most easy-going coaches they ever knew, but I pick my battles,” he said. “There are things I’m very adamant about, and one is the team aspect. Another is respecting the game; it’s a wonderful game and you have to respect it.”
Hall currently has a weights class and some P.E. life classes at HHS, and has no plans to stop coaching baseball at the school.
“As long as my teams are competitive and they’ll have me here,” he said, “I’ll be here.”