“For sure,” Colin said. “It’s been an emotional roller coaster the five years that I’ve been here. Lots of highs and lots of lows. We’re hot right now and trying to keep it rolling into this regional and seeing what we can make happen.”
One particular low is clear. Coming out of the Wesleyan School, Carter was talented enough for the Braves to draft him, but he chose to continue on to college, picking Tech over Stanford. However, he was unable to complete his Tech career because of a back injury. Colin picked Tech over Florida State not just for the chance to play for his father, but also to play alongside his brother, as they had at Wesleyan, winning a state championship in 2015.
“It's been an emotional roller coaster the five years that I've been here. Lots of highs and lots of lows. We're hot right now and trying to keep it rolling into this regional and seeing what we can make happen."
- Georgia Tech's Colin Hall, on playing for his father
“Unfortunately, Carter didn’t get to continue his career after some tough injuries, but I still got to be with him every day, and he was a great teammate and friend,” Colin said.
Colin, too, dealt with the expectations and pointed critiques that come with playing for one’s father.
He heard it, he said, from “(the) stands, parents, you name it,” he said. “But it’s going to happen anywhere where a kid’s playing for his dad. You just do everything you can to do the small stuff right and let the rest take care of itself.”
Danny said the added pressure has been a worry for him as a father.
“That’s the part you worry about, is that everybody knows he’s my son, and with that comes a lot of eyes on you and expectations,” he said.
The elder Hall suspected that Colin was carrying an extra burden at the end of April after the Jackets lost a home series to Duke. Danny expressed his frustration and disappointment to the team and feared that Colin, as a senior, a captain and the coach’s son, was internalizing it to a greater degree than was productive. The two went to dinner, Colin calling it more “father/son” than “coach/captain.” The message was, don’t let the team’s play affect his individual performance.
“I think he was just worried about me, and he knows me better than anybody,” Colin said. “He just wanted to make sure I was mentally there and could just reset and finish strong.”
Tech went on to upset then-No. 3 Miami the next weekend and goes into the Tennessee regional having won seven of its past eight games.
That hot streak has been among the many highs for the Halls. Since Carter’s first season, Tech has gone to the NCAA Tournament four times and won two ACC Coastal Division titles.
Colin has been a starter in the outfield since his freshman season and has played in 210 games over five seasons. This season, he’s hitting .264 and has set career highs in home runs (eight), runs (49) and stolen bases (seven), among other categories. The experience of playing for his father has been the most enjoyable aspect of the ride for Colin.
“He’s an easy guy to play for, a true player’s coach,” he said. “Just being able to compete for him and have fun together on the field, that’s what makes it special.”
He did, though, at first have to get used to a different side to his dad.
“Me and my brother were so used to just friendly Dad at home,” he said. “You come out here for your first fall practice freshman year and he’s, like, up your (expletive). You’re like, ‘Who’s this guy?’ I think Carter didn’t tell me anything before he came here, how intense he was. But you learn pretty quick that it’s a different animal than at home.”
For Danny, the pleasure has been for him and wife, Kara, to have a close-up seat to watching their sons enjoy their college experience. With Colin in particular, Danny has taken pride in watching him work hard on his defense, going from being an average defensive outfielder to a superior center fielder.
Watching from the dugout, he feels the same unease familiar to just about all parents watching their children perform on a public stage.
“I will say there’s a lot of anxiety when they’re at the plate or they’re making plays that I don’t have with the other eight players,” Danny said. “That’s real.”
Danny acknowledged that “it’ll be weird” when Colin’s career ends, ending this seven-year span of having a son on the team. And while Carter’s teams were not able to win a regional, the hope remains for Colin’s final team to reach the College World Series, a destination that has eluded the Jackets since 2006.
After that, the Halls hope that he’ll get a chance to play professionally, though it’s unclear if that will happen. Carter is now a baseball agent with Excel Sports Management. Colin’s post-baseball plans are to go into medical sales. While their playing careers did not unfold as perhaps they dreamed, both have their degrees in business administration and have enjoyed the rare privilege of playing college baseball for their father.
“I’ve told everybody,” Danny Hall said. “It’s a blessing.”