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Joe Hauser

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Joseph John Hauser (Unser Choe)

  • Bats Left, Throws Left
  • Height 5' 10½", Weight 175 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Before Sammy Sosa or Mark McGwire, there was Joe Hauser. Hauser was the first player to hit 60 home runs twice in his career - first for the Baltimore Orioles in 1930 (63 HR), and then for the Minneapolis Millers in 1933 (69 HR). He accomplished both of these feats at the highest level of minor-league ball, and both were after his major league career was over, but neither earned him a major league roster spot again.

Hauser had a very solid MLB career. In 1922, he hit .323 as the A's first baseman and was 10th in the league in slugging. The next season, 1923, he hit .307 with 17 homers, the 4th-highest total in the AL. In 1924, he slipped to .288 but clubbed 27 homers and drove in 115. He was second in the AL in homers, 4th in RBI, 5th in total bases, 7th in slugging and 4th in extra-base hits. He finished 7th in MVP voting that year. Only Babe Ruth hit more homers in the league. Hauser also set a then-AL record of 14 total bases in a game when he homered three times and doubled. In 1925, Hauser's very-good-and-getting-better career was derailed. In an exhibition game against the Phillies right before the start of the season, he broke his kneecap while running to first. His knee was in two pieces and he needed wire to hold it together. He missed the whole 1925 season. Connie Mack returned him to the cleanup slot in 1926, but Hauser had not recovered - he hit .192 though still with some power (8 homers in 229 AB). Hauser was optioned to Kansas City of the American Association and hit .353 with a slew of extra-base hits. The A's picked up the option on his contract and he had a fine season in 1928, batting .260 but with 19 doubles and 16 homers in just half a season of action (300 AB). He was 4th in the AL in home runs despite having much less time than many other players. That season Hauser had a number of Hall of Fame teammates - Mickey Cochrane, Al Simmons, Ty Cobb, Jimmie Foxx, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins and Lefty Grove. Hauser reported that no one was a fan of Cobb's. He also told the following story: "One time we needed a pinch hitter and Connie Mack says to Cobb, 'Ty, can you hit this pitcher?' Cobb stood up and said 'I can hit any pitcher who ever lived!' Mack says, 'Fine. Hauser, grab a bat.'" Which seems like a good decision on Mack's part, as Hauser had a better OPS+ than Cobb that year.

Hauser just missed being a part of the 1929-1931 A's dynasty, one of the top ten teams ever (perhaps top five). Foxx was in the process of becoming a full-time first baseman, and while Hauser was a very good hitter, he was no Jimmie Foxx. Hauser was optioned to Milwaukee. The Cleveland Indians bought his contract during the 1929 season and he saw limited action as a pinch-hitter, slugging .500. The Indians had the AL's 1929 batting champ at first in Lew Fonseca and Hauser was relegated to the bench for the most part. It was his last big-league action (he finished at .284/.368/.479 in the majors, with a 117 OPS+). "Unser Choe" went to Baltimore of the International League in 1930, still earning the same salary he had in the majors ($6,500). He set the IL record for homers with 63. Yes, he took advantage of a cozy park but no one else in the league hit more than Ripper Collins' 40 and none of Hauser's teammates topped 34. He led the league in slugging and runs and was only 5 off Collins' record pace. In 1931, he suffered a groin injury but led the league again, this time with 31 home runs. He was sold to Minneapolis of the American Association and hit 49 homers for his third straight homer crown in the high minors and 4th total. Minneapolis cut his salary the next year but he topped even his 1930 season, going deep 69 times, the all-time record for the high minors and the 4th-highest total in the history of organized baseball, trailing only Barry Bonds, McGwire and Joe Bauman. In one 21-day span, Hauser cracked 20 homers. He started out 1934 almost as hot, homering 17 times in April. He broke his leg in June, ruining his chances for another record-setting campaign. He returned in 1935 and 1936, still hitting with power, but aging (he was 37 at the end of 1936), fading and limited by his many injuries.

He took a job as a player-manager for the Sheboygan Indians starting in 1937 (when they were not in Organized Baseball), then continued with them after they joined the Wisconsin State League in 1940, leading the team to the pennant in 1942 - at the age of 43 he hit .302 with 14 homers in 242 AB, finishing his minor league career with 399 homers (478 for his entire stay in organized baseball). He led the team to three more pennants from 1941-1942 and 1946-1953 before the league folded for good, then went to the Union City Dodgers in 1955 and later the Northern League, where he won two more pennants with the 1956-1958 Duluth-Superior White Sox. At age 93, he was asked if during his minor-league dominance he had considered a return to the majors. "I didn't think about it much," he replied, "Not after I got through with Cleveland and went to Baltimore. Because I was 31 years old, and they'd say my legs are bad. They wouldn't take a chance on me. So that's what happened. They were scared to take me, afraid it wouldn't be a good deal." The Sporting News at the end of 1930 wrote "Strange as it may seem, notwithstanding those accomplishments, Choe has been permitted by major league clubs to linger in the International." In 2008 he was elected to the International League Hall of Fame.

Source: Most of this is copied from a summary of the 1930 IL previously created the season for the Strategic Baseball Simulator. The main source then was "Baseball's Forgotten Heroes" by Tony Salin.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1924)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1924)

[edit] Further Reading

  • Tony Salin: Baseball's Forgotten Heroes, Masters Press, Chicago, 1999, pp. 67-80.

[edit] Related Sites

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