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Minor League Sluggers

By: X Bats

Who is the Home Run King of Professional Baseball in the USA? Prior to Barry Bonds' feat in 2001, it was Joe Bauman. In 1954 he hit 72 home runs in just 138 games. This 6 foot 5 inch, 245 pound first baseman played for the Roswell (New Mexico) Rockets in the Class C Longhorn League.

I spoke with Joe, who still lives in Roswell, for the purposes of this article.  He said that he used a Louisville Slugger, 35 inches in length and weighing 34 ounces, a Model S-2 Vern Stephens bat. Bauman, often called "Joltin' Joe", was 32 years old when he hit his record breaking 72 home runs. Until then, the Minor League record was 69 home runs, set in 1933 by Joe Hauser of the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. Hauser's record was tied in 1948 by Bob Crues of the Amarillo Gold Sox.

Bauman elected to remain in Roswell because his family was successfully established in business. What an outstanding year Joe had in 1954. Along with 72 home runs, he had 224 RBI's, 456 total bases, 150 walks, a .916 slugging percentage and a .400 batting average. The two previous years at Ortesca, Bauman hit 103 home runs (175 home runs in three years). His Minor League career shows 937 home runs, 1,057 RBI's and a .337 batting average. Joe was the first player to hit 50 home runs three consecutive years in Professional Baseball. He hit 50 home runs in 1952, 53  in 1953 and 72 in 1954. Yes, Joe Bauman is still the "Home Run King of the Minor Leagues".

Joe Hauser told me by phone that he also used a Hillerich and Bradsby bat, 34 inches long and 31ounces. He had his own personal model. Standing 5' 10 1/2" and weighing 175 pounds, Hauser was 34 years old when he hit his record 69 home runs in 1933. He also hit 63 home runs in 1930 for the Orioles of the International League. Joe hit 399 home runs in the Minors and 79 in the Majors. In 1924, he hit 27 home runs playing for the Philadelphia A's, second only to Babe Ruths' 46 for the New York Yankees. Joe Hauser lived in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and was 98 years old when he passed on, July 11, 1997.



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