Parker Hall pioneered passing in pro football|[2/9/05]

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 9, 2005

Linus Parker Hall, nicknamed the Tunica Tornado and also Bullet, has held a place in National Football League lore for nearly 70 years.

The Vicksburg resident, who grew up in the Delta town of Tunica before going on to star at Ole Miss and with the Cleveland Rams, is the only player in NFL history to win the league’s most valuable player and rookie of the year honors in the same season.

Hall died on Tuesday morning. He was 88.

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Hall had completed one of the most stellar careers in Ole Miss history in 1938, earning All-America, All-SEC and All-South honors as a senior. He was drafted by the Cleveland Rams with the third overall pick in 1939.

His first coach, Dutch Clark, was fired by the Detroit Lions the year before for not throwing the football enough. Clark opened up the Rams’ offense and Hall responded by completing 106-of-208 passes for 1,227 yards.

In a 1939 Cleveland Plain-Dealer article, Clark said, “I’ve seen Sammy Baugh play. I’ve seen Sid Luckman, Davey O’Brien and Ed Dankowski in action. Going back past the current crop, I’ve watched Benny Friedman and the passing greats of his era. I never saw one who could pass quite like Hall.”

Hall played for the Rams for three seasons before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. Upon his return from the service, Hall played one more season in 1946 with the San Francisco 49ers.

“He was one of those guys whose picture was on the athletic dormitory walls when I went to school there,” said ex-Ole Miss football player Bobby Robinson, who had heard of Hall but never knew him until they became friends after meeting at the YMCA. “I imagined what a great player he must have been.”

Hall’s first love in sports was baseball and he said many times that his ability to throw a baseball across the diamond sidearm was the main reason he threw a football the same way. He said he could throw the ball farther sidearm than most could overhand.

He gave up baseball at Ole Miss and concentrated on football.

“Parker Hall was one of the truly legendary football players at Ole Miss,” university Chancellor Robert Khayat said. “He was a nationally respected player with the heart of a champion. He will be missed but not forgotten.”

The Rams selected Hall just after Luckman in the 1939 draft. Before, he worked at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York City. He recalled carrying people around the fair using a rickshaw, a carriage popular in Southeast Asia.

Hall left football mainly for financial reasons. His last season with the 49ers brought him $10,000.

“I had two kids then, so it was time to get on with it,” Hall said in a 1998 Vicksburg Post interview.

Hall moved to Vicksburg from Memphis in December 1996 shortly after his wife, the former Josephine Tully, died. He married Lorraine Ammon shortly after.

He retired after 37 years with the Anderson-Tully Corp. in 1986.

Hall is survived by his wife, four sons, a sister, seven grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.