More than 50 years later, baseball fans in St. Louis still talk about Harry "The Hat" Walker's deciding hit in the 1946 World Series.
Walker, who got his nickname for his habit of adjusting his cap between pitches, died Sunday at University Hospital in Birmingham of complications from a stroke. He had been hospitalized since mid-July, hospital spokesman Hank Black said.
In Game 7 of the 1946 World Series, Walker hit a double to left-center in the bottom of the eighth, and Enos Slaughter scored all the way from first, giving the Cardinals a 4-3 victory over the Boston Red Sox and the series title.
"People still talk about it today," recalled longtime Cardinals announcer Jack Buck Sunday night. "Some say [Slaughter] scored all the way from first on a single, but it was a double."
Walker, a left-handed hitter, led the National League in hitting in 1947, went on to a career as a manager and eventually landed at Alabama-Birmingham, where he helped start the baseball program.
"He had a passion for baseball that was as great as any seen in the game," Houston Astros Manager Larry Dierker said after learning of Walker's death. "He absolutely loved the sport. He could talk about it for hours on end."
During a 22-year pro career, including 11 seasons in the majors, Walker had a .296 average. He spent eight years with the St. Louis Cardinals and also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds, mostly as an outfielder. He appeared in three World Series (1942, 1943 and 1946) and two all-star games (1943 and 1947).
Walker's best year was in 1947, when he batted .363 while playing 130 games for Philadelphia and 10 games with St. Louis.
Buck called Walker a "good pal."
"He was a beautiful person -- total baseball. His whole life was baseball. He'd talk about baseball until 5 a.m. if you'd let him," Buck said.
Walker spent 20 years as a manager, including major league stints with the Cardinals (1955), the Pittsburgh Pirates (1965-67) and the Astros (1968-72). For the next six years, he worked in various capacities for the Cardinals' organization, including hitting coach, minor league farm director and scout.
Dierker, reached in Chicago where the Astros beat the Cubs, 6-2, Sunday, said he was surprised to hear of Walker's death, having spoken with his wife within the past week.
"He was certainly a religious man. He's headed in the right direction," he said.
After quitting the majors, Walker became the first baseball coach at UAB, from 1979 to 1986. He led the Blazers to two Sun Belt Conference North Division titles in 1981 and '82 and had an eight-year record of 211-171. Walker finished his UAB career with four consecutive 20-plus win seasons.
"Harry was a great friend to all of us at UAB, and we are going to miss him," Athletic Director Gene Bartow said Sunday night. "This is a very deep loss for me personally and for UAB in general."
According to the Baseball Encyclopedia, he was born Oct. 22, 1916, in Pascagoula, Miss., the son of the first Alabama native to go to the majors -- Ewart "Dixie" Walker, who pitched for Washington in 1909.
He told UAB officials in April the record books are wrong, and he actually was born in 1918.
Harry Walker's uncle, Ernie Walker, played for the St. Louis Browns, and brother Fred "Dixie" Walker was a star outfielder in the NL and AL.
Harry Walker was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1978.
Walker is survived by his wife Dot, three daughters and four grandchildren.