Calling Park Ridge resident’s life robust wouldn’t be off base
Bob Hale. | Contributed photo
NAME: Bob Hale
BEST KNOWN AS: New York Yankees 1961 World Series Championship team member
HOMETOWN: Park Ridge
Updated: November 5, 2012 6:19AM
PARK RIDGE — From an outside glance, lifelong Park Ridge resident Bob Hale seemed like an everyday guy, coaching little-league baseball and Park District basketball during his retirement years while serving the community on the Park District Board of Commissioners and following his faith as a member of Park Ridge Presbyterian Church.
But for those who knew Hale, who passed away Sept. 8 at age 78, he was anything but ordinary.
Many in the Park Ridge community knew Hale as a popular high school principal who worked in Park Ridge schools in the 1970s and ’80s, but before his successful career in education, Hale was a Major League Baseball first baseman with a colorful past.
Described by his daughter, Stephanie Faley, as a true “Chicago city kid,” Hale graduated from Lake View High School in Chicago in 1951 and was immediately drafted to the minor leagues to play for the St. Louis Browns.
After a year on the road playing baseball Hale came back to the Chicago-area to marry his high school sweetheart and future wife of 60 years, Cathy Hale, before continuing on in the minor leagues until 1955.
His career as a Major League Baseball player started with the Baltimore Orioles and he later played for the Cleveland Indians before landing a spot on the New York Yankees’ 1961 World Series Championship team.
For one spectacular year Hale shared the field with baseball legends Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris and Yogi Berra.
In 1962, at 27-years-old, Hale retired from his baseball career and returned to the Chicago area to start a family with Cathy and go to school. Within 10 years Hale had three children and three degrees, including a bachelor’s degree from DePaul University in school administration and a master’s degree in education also from DePaul before earning a Ph.D. from Northwestern University.
“My dad was very humble — he never bragged about his accomplishments, which is why a lot of people only knew about one facet of his life,” Faley said. “Although he had a great education, he always thought his degree in life was more important than any of his college degrees.”
Nonetheless, Hale put his high-level degrees in education to use by working as a District 64 principal from 1973-88, moving from Carpenter School to Emerson, and later Rooselvelt.
Though his career as a baseball player was long in the past, Hale stayed involved in the sport he loved by working as a Major League scout for the Milwaukee Brewers, Los Angeles Dodgers and Chicago Cubs both during his career as a principal and in retirement.
In 2008 Hale was inducted into the Chicagoland Sports Hall of Fame.
His professional accolades in sports and education aside, loved ones and friends knew Hale as a lovable, kind and intelligent person who liked to give back to the Park Ridge community.
“He was very well-liked — everyone just seemed to love him,” Faley said. “We didn’t know how many lives he touched until so many people came up to us at the wake and told us stories about their memories of him.”
More than 600 people attended Hale’s wake this month, many waiting in line for 90 minutes to pay their respects to a man who always saw the good in people, who always saw the glass half-full.
Niles resident Oneri Fleita began working with Hale in spring 1996 when they were scouts for the Chicago Cubs. Oneri said he admired Hale for his caring heart that always led him to tell people what he thought and not what they wanted to hear.
“He cared more about other people than himself,” Oneri said. “If you were half the man he was you’d be successful.”
Hale is survived by his wife Cathy, his daughters Heather Campbell and Stephanie Faley and a son, Andrew Hale, and seven grandchildren.
The entire immediate Hale family still lives in Park Ridge.