212 was the golden number for Josh Hall—the national career stolen base record he was striving to break. Not only did he break the record on April 20, he also finished his high school career with 224 career stolen bases. The 2018 Homewood High School graduate also broke the AHSAA state career stolen base record with 165 on March 14. It was a dream come true for not just Josh, but his dad’s as well. “I was a college coach for 12 years and my dreams were to be a Division I head coach one day,” his dad Lee, who has coached him all four years of high school, says, “and I decided to walk away from my dreams to be part of my kids’ dreams and get to coach them in youth ball through high school.” Here’s what he and Josh had to say about it all.
What are some of your earliest baseball memories?
Josh: When my dad was the coach at UAB, I would hang out with those players at practices and games, starting when I was like 2 years old. I started playing baseball when I was 4. I fell in love with it at a young age. It’s like a love more than a game.
Lee: I don’t think he had a choice. Growing up with me as a coach, he’s been drug to a baseball field since the day he was born. I’m thankful they had the same passion for it that I did. We don’t really hunt or fish in our family, we just play baseball.
Can you talk some about your stealing strategies?
Josh: I have always been fast, and I have developed it over the years by doing strength and agility training. My start at first base or second base is the key to stealing, so that’s something I have focused on. I get my start from like Billy Hamilton of the Cincinnati Reds and Trea Turner of the Washington Nationals, two of the fastest guys in the MLB right now. It’s picking up your front foot a little bit and setting it down really quick. It helps you be more explosive.
What steals stand out the most from your high school years?
Josh: Stealing home is pretty cool. I have done it five or six times in my high school career, twice this year. When the pitcher sees you running, you don’t really know what’s going on in his head. And then he tries to throw it, but once you are safe, it’s a pretty cool feeling.
Lee: Typically your teammates fly out of the dugout, and it’s just a momentum changer. It’s the rarest steal of all the steals. It gives your team so much energy.
What was going through your head when you were breaking those records?
Josh: At the plate, you are thinking, “Don’t get out. Get on base,” especially for the national record. It was in the playoffs, and it was a bigger scale with more people and news coverage. I remember getting on base and looking up and taking this deep sigh of relief, knowing what was about to happen. Twenty years from now, I’m not going to remember how I got on, I’m just going to remember looking up and seeing the whole team jump out of the dugout and rush onto the field.
You’ll be playing for Ole Miss next year. What are you looking forward to about college ball?
Josh: I’ll be playing in the SEC, and that’s a dream come true for me. They are second in the nation this year and their average attendance is over 8,000 a game. That’s a larger crowd than I have ever played in front of. I watch a lot of college baseball on ESPN, and it’s cool watching it knowing I’ll be in their place next season.