Kernels' Hall takes unique path to professional baseball

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CEDAR RAPIDS — Frazier Hall is a man of faith, which you find out quickly when you ask him how he ended up playing college baseball at Southern University.

“For me, I felt like the Lord led me there,” the Cedar Rapids Kernels first baseman said.

Located in Hall’s hometown of Baton Rouge, La., Southern is one of the oldest HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) in the country. Hall is Caucasian.

“Historically black (school), and I’m historically white,” he said with a chuckle.

Quite a unique story, for sure, but one that seemed appropriate to tell on a day when baseball celebrated Jackie Robinson’s breaking the color barrier in the game. Former Negro League star Art “Superman” Pennington threw out the first pitch Sunday at Veterans Memorial Stadium prior to Quad Cities’ 11-1 win over the Kernels.

Hall talked about how significant attending Southern has been for his life on and off the field.

The 23-year-old was the Southwestern Athletic Conference’s player of the year in 2011, got drafted in the 16th round by the Los Angeles Angels, tore it up as a rookie pro and is off to a strong start with the Kernels. Then there were the lessons taught about racial harmony.

“The first year I went in there, it was the original Caucasian invasion. We had something like 11 white guys,” Hall said with another chuckle. “But you know, for me, we were all color blind there. We don’t see race. We had like five guys from Puerto Rico, three or four from the Dominican (Republic) and Venezuela. For us, it was like one big family that did everything and went everywhere together. We hung out all the time. Just a family.”

That was something head coach Roger Cador stressed, Hall said. Cador has built a strong program at Southern that has produced the likes of major leaguers Rickie Weeks and Fred Lewis.

“Coach Cador always talked about baseball as being color blind,” Hall said. “That was one of the things he preached to us, and we always talked about. We were just a band of brothers.”

Hall ended up at Southern in a round-about way. He originally had committed to New Orleans, but got his scholarship offer pulled after a coaching change.

“I said ‘OK, I understand that,’” Hall said. “Southern showed up three days later. Roger Cador called me, they came and visited with me and my parents. I think my parents were sold (first). They were like ‘You’re going to Southern.’ Everybody knows about Roger Cador in the South. You talk about the salt of the earth. Just a terrific man.

“It was an awesome experience there. I wouldn’t change it for anything. It was the ultimate blessing.”

Quad Cities had 16 hits to pound the Kernels (6-4) and end a seven-game homestand on a down note. The River Bandits won three of four games in the series.

Designated hitter Colin Walsh had three hits and five RBIs for QC, coming up a triple shy of the cycle. Kevin Moesquit had a pair of hits for the Kernels, who hit the road for nine straight, beginning Monday night at Peoria.

Here is the game boxscore:

Scoreboard _ Midwest League Scoreboard

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