He was born Thomas Frank Haller in Lockport, Illinois on June 23, 1937 to Frank and Julia Haller. He played 12 seasons in the msjor leagues as a catcher for three different teams in his career and was selected as an All Star 3 times. He made his debut on April 11, 1961 for the San Francisco Giants and his last game was for the Detroit Tigers on October 4, 1972. He hit .257 in his career and smacked 134 home runs and had 504 runs batted in.
The story goes that his dad, who worked in the steel mills in Joliet, Illinois, headed to Barrett;s Hardware Store with a list in his hand from his wife but didn’t buy anything as he spent $68 on baseball equipment for his kids. This amount of money would take a year for him to pay back. His wife, Julia, was upset because they didn’t have 35 cents to buy bread.
Fast forward to high school and he was a three sport star in football, baseball and basketball at Rockport High School and earned a football scholarship at the University of Illinois where he became the starting quarterback. During his junior year at Illinois, in 1957 he was third among the Big Ten Conference quarterbacks in passing. Against Ohio State, in the Big Ten opener, he went 10-for-13 with 183 yards passing, but the Illini lost to Ohio State, 21-7. The following week, he led his team to a 34-13 upset over Minnesota. Later in the season, in a nationally televised game, they toppled Michigan 20-19. They ended the season rolling over Northwestern 27-0.
During the summers he would play baseball and Haller headed to Moose Jaw Canada and contributed 18 home runs and caught the eye of baseball scouts. He was signed by the San Francisco Giants on February 25, 1958, for $54,000. Part of that money, $2,500, was sent directly to the University of Illinois. Haller, the star quarterback, had left school with one year of eligibility remaining. His feeling was that, “It was only fair to repay the money since I cannot continue to compete for the university.” His father also stipulated that he would return to school and get his degree, and that he did. He spent the next three off-seasons at Illinois, completing his degree in Physical Education, graduating in 1961.
He spent three season in the minors and then the Giants called him up on April 11, 1961 for his debut. He went 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. BOXSCORE
Haller hit .261 with 18 home runs and 55 RBIs for the Giants in 1962, in a platoon system alongside Ed Bailey. Haller and Bailey combined to give the Giants 35 home runs and 100 runs batted in from the catcher’s position as they battled the Los Angeles Dodgers in a tight pennant race.The two teams ended the season tied for first place and met in the 1962 National League tie-breaker series. The Giants won the three-game series to clinch the National League championship. The Giants then lost the New York Yankees in the 1962 World Series in seven games. He collected four hits in 14 at-bats with a home run and three runs batted in during the Series.He was traded to the Dodgers in 1968 and played four seasons before being shipped to Detroit for his final year in 1972.
Coaching and Managing
After his playing career ended, Haller worked for the Giants as a coach (1977–1979), and was their vice president of baseball operations (1981–1986). He was named to the Giants’ 25th anniversary team in 1982.In 1986, he served as the manager of the minor league Birmingham Barons. In June 1986, He was named as the General Manager of the Chicago White Sox.
After a long illness with the West Nile Virus , Tom Haller died in Los Angeles, on November 26, 2004 at age of 67.
His brother Bill Haller was a longtime umpire.