Kharacters in the Kitty

By Larry Edmundson



Joe Hauser came to Union City to manage the 1955 team. Hauser, a 56 year old non-playing manager, was one of the most interesting and colorful characters to appear in the league. He played six years in the majors, five of them with Connie Mack's Philadelphia A's from 1922-28. He hit a career .284, and over .300 twice with 80 home runs. Hauser had begun his professional career as an outfielder with Providence of the Eastern League in 1918. It was two years later, while playing for the American Association Brewers in his hometown of Milwaukee, that Joe acquired the moniker that would stay with him throughout his career: Unser Choe (a German expression for "Our Joe"). "Because I lived in Milwaukee, nobody was supposed to ride me," Joe explained, "but when I had a bad day and some fans did, others would tell them to knock it off because 'Das ist Unser Choe.'"

In 1925 he broke his leg in spring training and spent the entire season on the shelf. His still-crippled leg hampered a comeback attempt in 1926. Hauser played in only 91 games and saw his average plummet to .192. He received one more opportunity to return to the majors in 1928, but after a fast start his hitting cooled and he was relegated to the minors for the rest of his career. He was replaced at first base by Jimmie Foxx .

He became one of the all time great homerun hitters in minor league history. He hit 63 homers in 1930 with Baltimore in the AAA International League and hit a record 69 for Minneapolis in AAA American Association in 1933. The record stood until Fred Bauman of the Roswell, NM team in the Longhorn League hit 72 in 1954. He was the only man to ever hit 60 or more homers in two years until Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire in 1999.

He was touted as a great teacher of young players and had been a manager in the Dodger chain for 11 years before coming to Union City, all in his hometown of Sheboygan, WI. He won five championships and never had a team finish out of first division. Collier magazine writer Tom Meany came to Union City in the summer of 1955 and did a story on Hauser that appeared in the national publication.

A left-handed first baseman, Hauser hit 27 home runs in 1924, second in the league to Babe Ruth. He had fond memories of the Babe, saying "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."

The Kitty League fell apart and closed down at the end of the 1955 season. The Dodgers were not successful that year because Hauser said the Brooklyn organization did not provide sufficient help. He managed the Duluth-Superior White Sox in the Northern League in 1956, 1957, and part of 1958.

Hauser returned to his home in Sheboygan where he owned a sporting goods store that he operated until 1984. He remained there until he died in 1997 at the age of 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.