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Ever Hear of Joe Hauser, Possibly the Greatest Home Run Hitter Ever?

Dear Guru,

Hauser, a left handed first baseman known as Unser Choe (German for Our Joe), hit 27 home runs in 1924 [in only his third year], second in the league to Babe Ruth.

Following an injury that sent him to the minors for the rest of his playing life, he became one of the all time great home run hitters in minor league history. He hit 63 homers in 1930 with Baltimore and hit a record 69 for Minneapolis in 1933. The record stood until Fred Bauman of the Roswell, NM team in the Longhorn League hit 72 in 1954. [But, Hauser is still] the only man ever to hit 60 or more homers in two years

He [Hauser] had fond memories of the Babe. "Babe loved to pull my shirttail out every time he stopped at first base. Lucky for me, he seldom stopped there. He was usually on his way to another base."

In 1955 [after his playing days] the directors of the Union City Dodgers with Brooklyn's help, hired Joe Hauser to manage the team in the Kitty League. At the time Hauser was fifty six years old and served as a non-playing manager. When selected for the Union City job, he had been a manager in the Dodger chain for eleven years, all of them in his hometown of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. He was out of baseball in 1954 because the Wisconsin State League folded, but he had won five pennants and his team finished in first division every year. He [also] owned and operated a sporting goods store.

The 1955 Kitty League season was the league's last. Only five teams managed to finish the schedule, and Union City finished fourth with a 50-57 record. Joe Hauser said the teams failure was largely because the Brooklyn club never provided the talent necessary to succeed. It was certainly not up to the standard of previous years. Hauser returned to Sheboygan and his sporting goods business. He remained there until his death in 1997 at age 98. He died four days after receiving word from the commissioner's office that all players who served in the majors before 1947 would receive a pension.

As baseball fans watch this year's home run assault by Mark McGwire, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Sammy Sosa, there will come a time toward the end of the race when some writer will dig out all the records on the home run champs. One of those names, Joe Hauser, will have a connection to my hometown, Union City, TN.

- (Larry E.).

Guru's Response

Hauser had great potential as a star home run hitter, so, it's a sad story to be sure. Notably, in his second year he finished tied for fourth in home runs with Tris Speaker and trailed Babe Ruth, Harry Heilmann and Ken Williams. Three of the four are Hall of Famers. And, in his third year he finished second only to Ruth.

But, let's not forget Sadahara Oh who played on the Yakult Swallows in the Japanese Leagues. He hit 74 homers in one season and finished with more career homers than Hank Aaron. Let's also remember stars of the Negro Leagues such as Gosh Gibson and George "Mule" Suttles who had the potential to hit 60 plus homers if given a full season.

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