Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Mel Hall, the Montreal star ballplayer who got 85 years in prison

   It was clear that Mel Hall was unusual from the start, as he was one of the very few major league baseball player to embrace winters in Montreal.
   What's stranger is that he didn't even play for the Expos.
   Hall met a model named Tanya Chine while on a road trip to Montreal after being called up to the Chicago Cubs from the minor leagues in July or August 1982.
   "She was a model downtown and I had some friends here who were into that. They said 'let's go downtown and see a fashion show.' So there were all these models there, and I asked her for a date, and of course she said no," Hall told journalist Brian Kappler in a Feb. 12, 1986 Montreal Gazette article.
    Hall added that he liked living in Montreal. "I'd rather live here than in the States. Montreal is so cosmopolitan; there are different races here, that makes it a lot easier."
   Chine, the family name Hall's wife Tanya provided, is possibly a pseudonym. She is believed to be an Italian-Montrealer, with one version suggesting that she shared a last name with some noted underworld figures.
   Hall expressed an interest in playing for the Expos but General Manager Bill Stoneman explicitly stated that the team was not interested in his services.
   Hall left the Chicago Cubs in 1984 after only one full season and joined the Cleveland Indians where he played four years, switching to the Yankees at the start of 1989, where he lasted five years, leaving the majors at the age of 32 in 1992.
   Hall, while never a superstar,  managed to stick around the majors for parts of 13 seasons and called Montreal his off-season home from about 1982 to 1990.
   After the end of each season Hall would return to spend his winters in Montreal, save for a few weeks of golfing and winter ball in the Caribbean, which he stopped in 1986 when his wife was expecting their first child who was born the next spring.
   Hall, by many accounts, appeared to be an upright citizen during his time in Montreal where he lived in a $250,000 condo bordering Outremont, said to be Le Sanctuaire near Van Horne and Wilderton. 
   Hall was an extrovert in Montreal, participating in various baseball clinics and co-owning a batting cage on the second floor of the Cote St. Luc shopping centre where a kid could get 20 swings for a buck.
   In a story that only came out much later, Hall allegedly invited a teenage girl Christina Fuoco into his Porsche sometime around 1989. She was working part time at the mall and he apparently shoved her head towards his unclad crotch. She exited the vehicle shocked and traumatized.
   Hall also served as volunteer coach for the girls basketball team at Rosemount High in the mid 1980s. No unsavory incidents were publicly reported but Hall later got into considerable trouble coaching girls basketball after retiring in Texas.
   Hall suffered a serious concussion and other injuries in a car accident in Texas in May 1985 that left him sidelined for many months. It's unclear whether that accident coincided with any changed behaviour but in the late 1980s Hall's behaviour became increasingly unhinged.
   In 1989 he reportedly plotted to get his girlfriend and wife to fight each other near the swimming pool at his team's hotel.
   When Hall moved on to the New York Yankees, his already-unusual behaviour became over-the-top, as he brought exotic animals into the clubhouse and wrestled with star teammate Rickey Henderson. He also openly courted a 15-year-old girl and raged against his manager so intensely that he broke a door and viciously belittled a younger player named Bernie Williams, who went on to larger things.
 The Yankees were unable to trade Hall and there were no takers when his contracted ended in 1992. He spent three years playing in Japan and then had a brief fling with the Giants in 1996.
   Hall eventually left the sport and was later sentenced to an eye-popping 85 years in prison for a series of encounters with underage girls, some under age 14.
   He will not be eligible for release until Nov. 2031 at the age of 71.
   And while copious detail has been laid about concerning Hall's various misdeeds, his local legacy isn't entirely clear.

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Stories like this fill the must-read Montreal: 375 Tales of Eating, Drinking, Living and Loving, order your paper copy here now or buy it at Indigo or Paragraph.

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