Central Alabama's Hall follows in granddad's cleat-steps
Dad roared, granddad pumped his fist, sister screamed — the entire Central Alabama Community College crowd erupted as Ben Hall ripped a two-run triple to deep center.
Benny Cavaliere loves baseball and knows the game.
At 84 years old, Ben Hall’s grandfather has seen a lot of baseball.
Back in 1952, Benny Cavaliere played second base for the Duke Blue Devils in the College World Series.
Now he’s getting the chance to watch his grandson play second base in the Alpine Bank Junior College World Series.
“He plays second base just like me,” Cavaliere said with a proud smile.
His Duke team was loaded with three All-Americans, but they didn’t do well in the World Series, Cavaliere said.
Part of that may have been from the tiring 1,200-plus mile train trip from Durham, N.C., to Omaha, Neb., Cavaliere said with his easy smile.
“That one thing was a letdown for me, and I want my grandson to win a World Series,” he said from behind the Central Alabama dugout.
Sitting next to David Hall and Jessica Hall, Ben’s dad and sister, Cavaliere was one proud grandfather.
“I get to kind of relive my life again,” he said. “He’s made me real proud.”
The hard-hitting Ben Hall will play at the University of Alabama-Huntsville next season, and Cavaliere may be a little biased, but he thinks his grandson may have a shot to play for quite a while.
“He’s got all the tools, he’s a good player,” he said. “I tell him baseball is a great game, so enjoy it.”
Cavaliere said he played two seasons of minor league ball before heading off to Korea for military duty. When he returned, he had a chance to play some more, but with a wife and a growing family, it was time to put the glove on the shelf.
“It was time to get a job,” he said with another smile.
As his family grew, Cavaliere kept waiting for that next baseball player in the family. He wanted a boy.
“I kept hoping,” he said.
Nothing wrong with two daughters, he just wanted a son. Then he wanted a grandson, but he still had to wait. One, two, three granddaughters and finally a grandson.
So, it was natural to name Ben after granddad.
And naturally, it was clear from an early age that Ben Hall was going to follow in his granddad’s cleat-steps.
“He throws right and bats left, just like me,” Cavaliere said.
Then Dad tells the story of how they set a ball on a tee for little Ben and handed him a bat. He grabbed the miniature bat and took a mighty left-handed swing, and he’s hit left-handed ever since.
“He was 18 months old,” David Hall said with a smile.
David said he’s been wearing his thumbs out texting messages back home to Ben’s mom, Linda, who couldn’t make the trip.
Dad admits he “didn’t care about baseball” when he was a kid, but he played a lot of catch with his son and watched a lot of Little League games.
It was grandpa who provided the diamond expertise. He’s in two sports Halls of Fame from his playing days — one in Norristown, Pa. and one in Huntsville, Ala.
Ben Hall plays second base, hits lefty and throws righty, just like grandpa.
Ben and Benny, a pair of pretty good ball players who got to play in a college World Series, that’s what they have most in common.