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Minor League HR King Dies

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  • Minor League HR King Dies

    Joe Bauman,who hit 72 home runs for the Class C Roswell(NM) Rockets in 1954 has passed away from pneumonia.He was 83.

    His 72 home runs in 1954 was a professional baseball record that sttod until Barry Bonds hit 73 in 2001.

    Check out his story here.

  • #2
    That is a wonderful story.

    Like most everyone else, I first read of Joe in James' HBA.

    Guys like Travis Hafner and Steve Balboni and Richie Sexson must be damned glad that the majors kept on expanding. And Dave Kingman. And Cory Snyder.


    • #3
      I just ran across an old article on him last week. He ran a Texaco station when not playing ball.


      • #4
        I remember reading somewhere that he did actually hit 73 in 1953, but that the umpire had turned around to order a heckler out of the ballpark when the pitch had just been released.


        • #5
          Originally posted by Gamingboy
          I remember reading somewhere that he did actually hit 73 in 1953, but that the umpire had turned around to order a heckler out of the ballpark when the pitch had just been released.
          ...and a young Billy Martin came running out of the dugout, rulebook in hand...


          • #6
            Chisox73 after you wake up when September ends Ill show you the way to Boulevard of Broken Dreams. Go Indians :gt
            "I don't like to sound egotistical, but every time I stepped up to the plate with a bat in my hands, I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pitcher."
            -Rogers Hornsby-

            "People ask me what I do in winter when there's no baseball. I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring."
            -Rogers Hornsby-

            Just a note to all the active members of BBF, I consider all of you the smartest baseball people I have ever communicated with and love everyday I am on here. Thank you all!


            • #7
              why didnt they bring him up that year when he hit that many
              Born True Blue


              • #8
                Originally posted by ElCaminoSS
                why didnt they bring him up that year when he hit that many
                Wow, where to start...

                1) No one could have called him. Roswell was not affiliated with any major-league team. No team in the league was affiliated with a major league team. One was a farm club for a aAA team.
                2) The Longhorn League was a huge offensive league. Sure, Bauman hit .400, but Stubby Greer hit .398, Julio De La Torre hit .390, Isaiah Jackson .383, Daniel Howard .443 with a .901 slugging (in about am onth). Jim Prince had hit .429 and slugged .754 in the '47 Longhorn. In the '55 Longhorn, Tom Jordan hit .407 with 69 doubles and slugged .696. He hit .391 with a .727 slugging and 180 RBI in '50. So Bauman was a bit better than Tom Jordan - have you checked out Tom Jordan's MLB stats? Hitting .400 and slugging .700 in the Longhorn was no sign of MLB-caliber talent.
                3) The Longhorn League was very poor talent-wise. 5 guys from the league played in the majors - Hillis Layne had been a mediocre utility guy during World War II and was tearing up the league as a 36-year old player-manager. Ossie Alvarez had a 498 OPS in the majors. Leo Posada had a 687 OPS in the majors. Evelio Hernandez had a 4.45 ERA in 18 games in the majors; in the '54 Longhorn he was almost the top pitcher. Vallie Eaves was 42 years old and 12 years removed from the majors. We're not even talking about the same caliber as say, the modern-day Gulf Coast League. There were so many minor leagues that talent levels were pitifully low.
                4) Who did Bauman set his records against? His final two homers came off a first baseman who pitched three games that year and a second baseman (the uncle of another player - wonder how old he was). How many decent minor leagues, even in the 50s, let position players pitch so much? Again, we're talking a low quality league.
                5) Bauman only played one year above class A - he had 1 AB in AAA and was okay in AA. His AA stats sound like a guy who might have deserved a big-league chance, but was far from a star quality player.
                6) Yes, Bauman did tear up the '54 Longhorn and was a fine hitter in a putrid league for a few years. But '54 was way out of line with what he had shown himself to be capable of. His HR totals in the league were 50, 53, 72, 46 and 17. His averages were .375, .371, .400, .336, .287. His RBI totals were 157, 141, 224, 132, 38. One guess which season was totally out of line.
                7) MLB teams then had a "our way or the highway" attitude. In '47, Bauman refused assignment to one minor league team. In '48, he retired instead of taking a salary cut. He refused an offer to return to Boston after he left, when they were willing to give him another shot at AA. In '55, a AAA club (San Francisco Seals) offered him a contract. He again refused. So we've got a guy who was very headstrong and demanding. Nowadays it's no big deal; in the '40s and '50s that attitude didn't get you to the majors.

                So - Bauman was an excellent class C/D player who did merely okay at AA, who had repeatedly refused offers that he felt were below him, who was playing on an independent club in a low-minor league and posting great stats in a league where everyone put up good offensive stats. The league was not producing major-league prospects and other guys who tore up the league also never made the majors or were unimpressive in their time there. Does that answer the question?

                I'm not saying Bauman DIDN'T have big-league talent. If he had been a more "agreeable" guy we might have found it. If he hadn't lost 3 or 4 years to World War II, he might have gotten more chances. But the '54 Longhorn League in no way is proof that he had MLB skills.


                • #9
                  Joe Bauman

                  Was ol' Joe on steriods (or just hot dogs and beer like the Babe?)


                  • #10
                    One more aspect of Joe Bauman's career wasnt covered here in Great detail. Mr. Bauman ran Texaco stations in the cities he played in, at least one station & sometimes 2. He made a lot of money for the day (1940's-50's) doing that. In an era where a team from the MLB could own you lock, stock & barrel, & could lowball almost any player with impunity, Joe had what's been politely called "go to town" money. He was probably making more money in business than he ever would have been as anything but a superstar in MLB.

                    Also, Joe had 2 other financial advantages. Joe played in the heyday of semi-pro baseball in the Midwest & received offers to play the then big deal and popular semi-pro game at a much more lucrative salary then the minors were willing to pay. He did so for about 3 seasons for Elk City OK's NBC Title contending team (hitting 78 HR in 213 games for Elk City) (along with running a Texaco there) after refusing a lowball MiL offer and quitting OB. Later, he would pay out his own cash for his outright release from his contract at Artesia NM, where he ran a Texaco, to move up the road to larger Roswell NM in the same league. At Roswell, he could run 2 Texaco stations and enjoy a larger local market for gas and service.

                    Following WW II it was not uncommon for cash flush spectators at semi-pro & minor league games to wave dollar bills through the screen for the batter after a home run was hit. Joe being the slugger he was, cashed in very well with this custom also. Plus got free hams for each HR in the 72 HR season from a local butcher (He gave those to young Cuban players on his team.)

                    It all adds up to me as Joe being an independent thinker with the financial wherewithal to be able to tell anyone that wanted to control him to hit the bricks.

                    It's almost a shame TV came along. It IS a shame that it killed all the low minors like the Longhorn League, that were all across the country. People stayed inside and watched "I Love Lucy" and other popular shows (Ironically, one of the most popular was "Texaco Star Theatre", with Milton Berle.) and stopped going out to the local ballpark.
                    Last edited by Calif_Eagle; 01-30-2017, 07:17 PM. Reason: found this post searching for something else, added content.


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