Elmer Valo

1994, State Inductee
About This Inductee

Born in Ribwik, Czechoslovakia, Elmer William Valo’s name ranks high in major league baseball action. After three years in the minors, the fence-bustin’ outfielder from Palmerton completed 20 years in the majors. He played with nine teams, Philadelphia, Kansas City, Cleveland, New York, Washington, and Minnesota, all-American League clubs, and also performed with Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia in the National League. He had his diamond career launched regionally while playing with the Lehighton Moose. Valo, a lifetime .282 hitter, always found a way to deliver. He was the ultimate contact hitter. He knew how to put the ball in play, striking out just 284 times in almost 6,000 plate appearances during a splendid 20-year major league career. To put that in perspective, Mike Schmidt whiffed 180 times in the 1975 campaign alone. The 5′ 11″, 190 pound, left-handed hitting outfielder compiled six .300 seasons. He was one of the greatest pinch hitters of all-time, ranking first with 90 hits and 91 walks when he retired in 1961. He played 13 years with the A’s, batting .305 with 1,124 hits, 179 doubles, 68 triples, and 98 stolen bases, in 1,240 games. In 1949, his best overall season, he hit two bases-loaded triples in one game. Defensively, Valo was the original Harvey Wallbanger. His spectacular crashes into the right field wall at Shibe Park are vividly recalled by his legion of fans. Valo never took his cherished spot on a major league roster for granted. “It was an honor to play the game. Baseball provided for my family and I’ve always been grateful for that,” he said. “To me, it was a thrill to put on the uniform every day.” Valo was a professional in every respect. He is still the perfect role model for his legion of fans. Brooklyn’s Pete Reiser and Valo raised the act of splattering into an outfield fence an art form. Both sacrificed their body to haul in long flies. “We never sat down and compared notes,” Valo said. “But I do know he had his problems and I sure had mine.” Longtime Valo followers said you could make out his silhouette in Shibe Park’s right field wall until they tore down the tradition-rich yard at 21st and Lehigh. Valo joined Mike Schmidt, Steve Carlton, Jimmy Foxx, Al Simmons, Mickey Cochrane, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Lefty Grove, Eddie Plank, Rube Waddell, Ed Delahanty, Jim Bunning, Eddie Collins, Cy Williams, Jimmie Dykes, Del Ennis, Wally Moses, and Connie Mack in the Philadelphia Baseball Hall of Fame.