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Bruno Haas

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Bruno Philip Haas
(Boon)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Bruno Haas played 21 years in the minor leagues - all after his sole major league season. He spent 11 years as a star for the St. Paul Saints. He had almost 700 extra-base hits in the minors, batting over .300 with over 250 steals, 1,000 runs and 1,000 RBI. He managed for 14 years in the minors as well and helped found a league. He is in the record books, though, for his first game in baseball, as a pitcher.

Bruno got his crack at baseball because he was attending the same prep school as Connie Mack's son Roy. With Mack desperate for pitchers (he used a record 27 in the 1915 Athletics campaign), Connie received a letter from Roy praising Haas's potential.

Mack signed the prep schooler and started him in the second game of a June 23 doubleheader; Cap Crowell, right out of college, had pitched the opener. Haas had a bad day, to say the least. He walked 16, the all-time major-league record for a game (tying the 28-uear-old mark held by Bill George and possibly George Van Haltren; no one else has walked 16 in an American League contest). Haas also uncorked three wild pitches, made an error and allowed 11 hits in the 15-7 defeat. Bruno pitched five more games, getting no more decisions; overall, he had a 11.93 ERA, 28 walks, 7 strikeouts, 6 wild pitches, 27 runs allowed and 23 hits allowed in 14 1/3 IP. Haas also played left field for three games, making no errors. He was 1 for 18 at the plate, striking out 7 times, drawing a walk and scoring a run. He would never play in the majors again.

Mack farmed Bruno out to the Wilkes-Barre Barons, for whom he hit .299/?/.396 and stole 25 bases. Haas was signed by the Chicago White Sox that fall and assigned to the Newark Bears. He hit .256/?/.358 for Newark, stole 18 bases and led the club with 8 triples.

Haas served in the Navy in World War I as a fighter pilot, after training at a special program at MIT.

The Milwaukee Brewers signed Haas; he hit .294/?/.418 for the team in 1919. They traded him to the St. Paul Saints, for whom he starred for over a decade.

Haas became an institution in left field for St. Paul, known for his catches while crashing into the outfield wall, diving grabs and other daredevil acts. His first year with the team, he hit .307/?/.457 for a club that won 115 contests. Pitching for the first time since his MLB debacle, he won his lone game on the mound. In 1921, the 30-year-old veteran batted .324/?/.436 with 100 runs scored. Also in 1921, he played in the NFL as a halfback. The next year, he did better - 105 runs, 35 doubles, 14 triples, 90 RBI and 24 steals with a .331 average and .489 slugging percentage. The Saints won another title.

In 1923, Haas hit .336/?/.532 with 37 doubles, 15 triples, 14 homers, 112 runs, 22 steals and 111 RBI in his best all-around season. Bruno slipped to .293/?/.444 the next season, with 13 triples, 85 runs, 24 steals and 100 RBI. St. Paul won their third crown with him. In 1925, his sixth in the city, he hit .317/?/.475 and stole 18 bags. On June 7, he went six for six at the plate. Haas lost his second and last pitching appearance for St. Paul.

Haas batted .329/?/.483 with 20 steals in 1926 and cracked 51 doubles, leading the American Association. In 1927, Bruno batted .334/?/.470 and swiped 24 bases, his seventh and last season with 20+ steals. At age 37, Haas was still hitting - .328/?/.459 with 18 swipes.

In 1929, Haas hit .296/?/.390, followed by a .374/?/.489 turn in his last year for the Saints. At age 38, he was traded to the Toledo Mud Hens for Leroy (Cowboy) Jones. Ernie Mehl, a writer for the Kansas City Star, commented that "A visitor going to St. Paul next summer will hardly know the place, because it has lost one of its oldest landmarks...perhaps the best-known player in the American Association."

Haas didn't even last all of 1931 with Toledo, winding up back in Milwaukee after a 12-year absence. Overall, he hit .285/?/.383 for the two clubs. Turning 41 in 1932, Bruno finally fell out of AA (then the highest minor league classification), playing most of 1932 for the New Orleans Pelicans (hitting .306/?/.434) and also spending 26 games with the Des Moines Demons (.220/?/.329).

Haas decided to found a new league at this time, which drew much criticism from those who thought it was foolish to make such a move during the Depression. Bruno joined with a few partners to form the Northern League, which lasted for most of the next 40 years in a stable form. Haas would play and manage for the new Winnipeg Maroons, as well as drive the team bus. To help ensure financial success, he instituted some unusual policies, such as escorting all the fans out of the stadium after game one of a doubleheader, then bringing them back if they paid to see game two. Haas also was known to run out of the stadium to chase baseballs hit out during batting practice to save on cost.

Bruno hit .241/?/.383 for Winnipeg their first year and took the mound regularly for the first time in 17 years. He went 3-0. Haas finally retired - briefly - in 1934. Winnipeg came close to title in 1934 but suffered when Haas was ejected from almost every game the final week of the year.

Haas fired himself as manager and hired Wes Griffin to replace him; they won the title in 1935.

In 1937, Haas returned to the field to hit .196/?/.412 in his year-46 season; six of his 10 hits went for extra bases and he both scored and drove in nine. He was 1-4 with a 3.05 ERA for the Maroons on the mound. The next season, Haas hit .292/?/.417 in 24 games (with his final career homer) and was 2-3 on the hill. He sold his interest in the Maroons that year.

In 1942, he managed the Grand Forks Chiefs and again took the field. He went just 4 for 25 with a double at age 51 and also pitched briefly. Haas stayed on as Grand Forks manager for three more years.

Haas moved to a third Northern League club in 1946, the Fargo-Moorhead Twins, as a manager. He had a 1-0 record in his final three mound appearaances and doubled in one of his two at-bats. He managed one side in the All-Star game that year. He decided to pitch the ninth after letting his four young hurlers each throw two innings. He allowed two singles in a row to start off. He then walked a batter to load the bases. Haas got the batter to ground towards third and Bruno made a diving a stop. He fired home to Rae Blaemire to nab the runner there. Blaemire threw to first to force the batter, then first baseman (and fellow old-timer in for a last thrill) Lynn King saw the runner who had been on second head home; King's throw home was in time to complete a dramatic triple play to end Haas's playing career.

Haas managed the Burlington Indians for part of 1948 after leaving Fargo-Moorhead. In 1950, he piloted the Wausau Lumberjacks to a miserable 33-88 record, last in the Wisconsin State League. In 1951, he scouted for the Athletics, 36 years after he had played for them. He died the next year.

In 2,246 minor league games, Haas hit .308/?/.429 with 2,461 hits, 1,198 runs, 451 doubles, 120 triples, 124 homers, 1,015 runs and 252 stolen bases.

Haas was known for his sense of humor and some players remarked that they loved playing for him. Considered an eccentric, Bruno was known for his booming voice despite a lisp. He swore but never smoked or drank alcohol. His repertoire included a fastball and forkball.

[edit] Sources

Baseball's Forgotten Heroes by Tony Salin, The Minor League Register ed. by W. Lloyd Johnson, Great Baseball Feats, Facts & Firsts by David Nemec

[edit] Records Held

  • Bases on balls allowed, game, 16, June 23, 1915 (tied)

[edit] Year-by-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1933 Winnipeg Maroons Northern League 67-44 1st none
1934 Winnipeg Maroons Northern League 57-57 5th none
1937 Winnipeg Maroons Northern League 49-70 6th none
1938 Winnipeg Maroons Northern League 37-76 7th none
1942 Grand Forks Chiefs Northern League 31-84 8th Chicago White Sox
1946 Fargo-Moorhead Twins Northern League 63-41 2nd none Lost League Finals
1947 Fargo-Moorhead Twins Northern League -- Pittsburgh Pirates -- replaced by Lloyd Waner on August 19
1948 Fargo-Moorhead Twins Northern League -- Pittsburgh Pirates -- replaced by Ralph DiLullo on June 6
Burlington Indians Central Association 2nd Cleveland Indians Lost in 1st round replaced Oscar Melillo on June 19
1950 Wausau Timberjacks Wisconsin State League 33-88 8th none

[edit] Further Reading

  • Tony Salin: Baseball's Forgotten Heroes, Masters Press, Chicago, IL, 1999, pp. 121-136.

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