August 30, 2011

Harold Franklin "Hal" Epps

Harold Franklin "Hal" Epps was born in Athens, Georgia, on March 26, 1914. A lover of sports as a youth, he played both football and baseball and entered the University of Georgia on a football scholarship in 1934. One year later, however, he was convinced by a scout for the St Louis Cardinals to switch over to baseball, where he would remain for the next eighteen years. Signed to the Cardinals training camp, he honed his skills in numerous farm systems where he maintained a batting average of over .300. Despite this promising ability, it would be years before he made his major league debut on September 9, 1938 against the Chicago Cubs. Although he only made ten appearances as an outfielder during the season, his batting talents placed him at the forefront of pinch hitters, again averaging .300. He was sent back to the minors at the close of the season and didn't play with the Cardinals again until 1940. After eleven games he again returned to the minors and played for the minor league Houston Buffs.

In 1943 he signed with the Toledo Mud Hens, the local affiliate for the St Louis Browns. Still hitting a respectable .300 to .301, he began shining in his role as outfielder as well, earning his nickname "The Reindeer" for the way he sprinted and dove to make catches. His improvement earned him a spot on the Browns where he would stay until June when he was picked up by the Philadelphia Athletics. Almost immediately after, he was called up by the Army to serve in the South Pacific during World War II. He left the service in 1947 and joined back up with the Houston Buffs in the Texas League, where he helped his team win the Dixie Series. Realizing that the call back to the majors would never come again, yet loving the game, he played for the Buffs until 1952 before he leaving to work for Armco Steel as a security guard for the next twenty-five years. Harold Epps would remain a local legend, however, receiving fan mail daily until his death on August 25, 2004 at the age of ninety.

GPS Coordinates
29° 56.044, -095° 26.962

Section N3
Houston National Cemetery
Houston

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