‘Bronx Zoo ‘90’: Who is Mel Hall, the devil in pinstripes and Bernie’s tormentor

Mel Hall with Jennifer and in pinstripes in 1991.

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The upcoming docuseries, “Bronx Zoo ’90: Crime Chaos and Baseball,” premiering on Peacock, exposes the turbulent events surrounding the 1990 New York Yankees, arguably the worst team in the franchise’s history, marred by numerous off-field scandals. The most alarming of these controversies involves Mel Hall, the now-convicted sex offender, who is serving a 45-year sentence in Texas and will not be eligible for release until at least 2031.

In a shocking revelation, the former Yankees outfielder was convicted of sexually assaulting two minor girls he coached in youth basketball teams. Mel Hall also had a history of abusing minors dating back nearly two decades before his 2009 conviction. The disturbing truth came to light when he openly flaunted his 15-year-old girlfriend at Yankee Stadium during his tenure with the team.

In his second season with the Yankees in 1990, Mel Hall’s actions off the field overshadowed his performance on the diamond. He was reportedly involved in a “relationship” with a local high school student, now identified as Chastity Easterly, and had even moved in with her awestruck family. The series sheds light on this deeply troubling aspect of Mel Hall’s past, exposing the dark underbelly of a once-celebrated athlete’s life.

Mel Hall and Jennifer at her high school prom, which appeared in the 1991 Yankees team yearbook.

In the docuseries “Bronx Zoo ’90,” Chastity Easterly and Kim D’Avignon, the prosecutor who later brought charges against Mel Hall in Texas, share their insights into the disturbing case. D’Avignon highlights the swiftness with which the ex-Yankees player integrated himself into Easterly’s family, moving in and occupying both her parent’s bedroom and her old room.

Shockingly, Mel Hall himself appears in the series through a prison interview, where he reminisces about the kindness shown to him by Easterly’s family. He expresses gratitude for being part of their family unit during that time, claiming that it helped calm him down and provided a sense of stability, given his lively nature back then.

Easterly reveals the extent to which Mel Hall ingratiated himself with her family, particularly her parents, to the point where he referred to her mother as “Mom” and her father as “Pops.”

Tragically, Mel Hall’s criminal convictions stemmed from two separate incidents that occurred after he retired from Major League Baseball. As reported by SB Nation, two former players he coached in AAU basketball came forward, accusing him of raping them in the late 1990s. These brave survivors sought justice, leading to Hall’s eventual conviction and imprisonment for his heinous crimes.

Who is Mel Hall?

Mel Hall in pinstripes in 1992 at Yankee Stadium.

Mel Hall, known as Melvin Hall Jr., a former Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder, had a career spanning from 1981 to 1996, playing for the Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Indians, New York Yankees, and San Francisco Giants. He also had a stint in Japan from 1993 to 1995. However, his legacy was tarnished when he was sentenced to 45 years in prison on June 17, 2009, after being convicted of two counts of sexual assault against minors.

Mel Hall’s MLB debut came with the Chicago Cubs in 1981, and he showcased his power in his first full season in 1983, hitting 17 home runs in 112 games. In 1987, he demonstrated his defensive prowess, leading all MLB left fielders in fielding percentage and range factor.

Controversy followed Mel Hall during his time with the New York Yankees. In 1991, he allegedly bullied rookie Bernie Williams, dubbing him “Zero” and shouting “Shut up, Zero!” whenever Williams attempted to speak, nearly reducing him to tears. Despite this, Mel Hall had a career-best season in 1992, hitting 15 home runs, driving in 81 RBIs, and collecting 163 hits in 152 games, earning $1.2 million. However, his insensitive behavior during that year’s Yankees Old-Timers’ Day, when he asked manager Buck Showalter, “Who are these old fucking guys?” led Showalter to realize that Hall had to go.

After his contract expired and no major league team expressed interest, the 32-year-old Mel Hall left for Japan, signing a two-year, $4 million contract. He briefly returned to the U.S. in 1996, playing for the San Francisco Giants, but was released after just 25 games, recording only three singles. A short stint with the Chicago White Sox’s Triple-A affiliate, the Nashville Sounds, lasted a mere 12 days and four games before he was released, leading to his retirement shortly thereafter.

In 2014, SB Nation published an extensive article detailing allegations of his serial predatory behavior and sexual abuse of numerous girls throughout his career, shedding light on the disturbing pattern of abuse.

Sexual assault conviction of Mel Hall

Mel Hall reacts after he was awarded prison term in 2009.

On June 21, 2007, Mel Hall was apprehended in Lewisville, Texas, facing two counts of sexual assault. The arrest followed a report received by North Richland Hills police from a woman who claimed she was sexually assaulted in March 1999 when she was under 17. During the investigation, a second victim, younger than 14, was identified, with one of the girls being only 12 at the time of the rape. Mel Hall was convicted on June 16, 2009, on three counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child and two counts of indecency with a child. The following day, he received a 45-year prison sentence, with a minimum of 22 years and 4 months. Currently, he is serving his sentence at H. H. Coffield Unit in Tennessee Colony, Texas, with his earliest possible parole date being November 15, 2031.

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