It would have been a monumental task as an Oneonta High School student from the late 1920s to early 1970s not to know or hear about Harold “Hal” Hunt, a well-respected sports coach and social studies teacher.
Hunt came to Oneonta in 1928 to teach what was then called civics. A western New York native, he came here via Colgate University and the University of Pittsburgh. During his time at Colgate, he played baseball as a catcher, where baseball became his forté. Only a year after arriving at OHS, Hunt became the school’s baseball coach, a post he held until 1962. He also coached football and basketball when called upon.
His initial baseball season in 1929 was a tough act to follow, as OHS went undefeated. Hunt’s only other repeat in the unbeaten ranks came in 1959. Many of his players went on to play college and professional baseball.
In those early years of Hunt’s baseball teams, the transportation to games was provided by volunteers, not buses like today. Team players usually crowded into touring cars and roadsters to get to away games. It wasn’t unusual that a player might miss the carpool, so he’d hop aboard a D&H train and Hunt would pick him up at a stop further up the line.
Albert “Sam” Nader was one of Hunt’s earlier players in the 1930s, and had high praise for his coach.
“I learned more baseball from him than I did from anybody else in my whole baseball career,” Nader said earlier this week. “He was my homeroom teacher, as well as for history, and just as good a teacher as he was a coach.”
Nader was a pitcher who went on to play at Bates College in Maine. Many of the tips Hunt gave Nader on the game lasted into the college career. “He was the epitome of baseball, as far as I’m concerned, and a very superstitious guy,” Nader recalled. “He’d never, ever let the bats be crossed.”