For Southern coach Roger Cador, former Jaguars pitcher Cody Hall is more than just the sixth player to reach the major leagues under his tutelage. For Cador, Hall’s success is about more than just baseball.
Hall was called up to the San Francisco Giants in September and spent the final month of the regular season helping the organization make a push toward the playoffs.
But just as important to the coach is the fact that Hall is also the first white player to reach the majors out of Southern.
“I look at people as people,” Cador said. “I can’t in the right, conscious mind deny somebody the opportunity that wants it and deserves it. If I was thinking that way, I never would have given Cody Hall the opportunity.”
Cador prides himself on creating a culture of diversity throughout baseball — his work on the MLB Diversity Oversight Committee to bring more young African-Americans into the sport speaks to as much — but he also sees that culture as having to work both ways.
Cador said very few, if any, historically black colleges recruited white players into their programs when he first started coaching the baseball team at Southern in 1985 — only a few decades after white universities began to integrate their programs — maintaining a divide between the groups.
Southern has a long history of producing successful black players from former No. 2 overall draft pick and All-Star Rickie Weeks to Hall of Famer and two-time World Series champion Lou Brock.
But it wasn’t until the early 1990s that Cador was able to recruit white players to Southern behind the support of university administrators like Tony Clayton, a member of the Southern University Board of Supervisors.
“I was one of the first coaches to recruit white kids (to the SWAC),” Cador said. “But I didn’t just recruit white kids, I recruited good white kids. I convinced kids with ability to come, because I don’t see color.”
Hall said he was completely unaware of his unique placement in Southern history.
A transfer from the BRCC baseball program, Hall has seen a growing interest in Southern from other white players who say they never would have thought playing at a historically black college would be an option.
But more importantly, Hall said the more diverse programs are, the more it teaches players that baseball is just baseball — no matter where your teammates are from.
“When you get to pro ball, you’re playing with a bunch of guys from a whole bunch of different races,” Hall said. “And when I was at Southern, I was playing with guys from Puerto Rico, I played with guys from Venezuela, from here in the states, African-Americans, Caucasians — and to us, it was just the game of baseball. We were really close friends and would just go out there and play the game.”
Hall will have to wait until spring training in February to find out if his promotion with the Giants will stick, but said he feels good about where he needs to be in his training.
A 19th-round pick in the 2011 draft, Hall appeared in seven games with the Giants as a middle reliever. He allowed six runs on 10 hits while striking out seven batters.
In the minors, he has 49 saves and 293 strikeouts under his belt, his most recent stop being with the Class AAA Sacramento River Cats.
“It was a dream of mine, and to just accomplish that dream is a huge honor. … I finally got there and now the dream is to stay there,” Hall said of reaching the majors. “That’s the new dream — to stay in the big leagues as long as I possibly can.”