Joltin' Joe Hauser first lead a Summer League team onto the field for the 1997 season, which ended up being one of the most memorable teams in SL history. In the end, Joe and his franchise retire ranked 5th in all time wins, 2 wins ahead of Steve Swinea.
'97 was a rough beginning, with the Shakopee Schlitz winning only 68 games (for an excellent .420 winning ptg.), but will always be part of SL slang. Seemingly getting beat 4-1 all the time, "getting schlitzed" became the common shorthand for a 4-1 series loss. The team was reknowned for the heart of its order, McGwire, Griffey, and Steinbach "and-I'm-out-of-here".
In '98, it seemed that there was blood in the street, the town of Chicago. The Boice Division was a grouping of locally-tied Pullman, Gurnee, and the Peace Frogs. Peace finished with 75 wins, 11 games out of first, but Joe moved closer to the pack.
'99 was the year for Joe to break on through, as the Hibbing Hurricanes made Joe the SL's sixth (and most recent) franchise to win a division. Joe took a 2-1 semifinal lead against my Barstow Dreamers, and at that point the series was put on hold for a week. That week took forever, day to day, hour to hour. Was the week he could-a been the champion of the world. The Hurricanes lost the last 3 games to end their season, but it was a success nonethless. Joe closed the Hibbing season review with a telling foreshadow:
Finally, a lot of talk is going on about the time commitment it takes to be in this league. I put in twice as much time this year as I have in the past on scouting and drafting, and it paid off. I think everyone who has finished a season in this league realizes it takes time if your going to be truly competitive. At the same time, there is a fine line between what is fun and what is a chore.
The Grand Portage Zebra Mussels were the 2000 incarnation of Joe's team, and he had another slightly sub-.500 team as the Z-Mussels won 78 for a .481 winning ptg. Unfortunately, the 96-win Austin T-Birds were in the same division, and Joe also finished 10 games out in the Wild Card. In 2001, Joe also won 78, but finished 5 games out and was only 2 games back with 10 to go, so it was a fight to the end with Black River and Griswold.
On the whole, Joe never managed to finish at .500 or above, but won 75, 80, 78 and 78 games in his last 4 seasons. Joe tried to retire in this past offseason, but the rest of the league convinced him to give it another try. At the time, he had said he enjoyed the draft and the like, but the games would most likely be difficult to get played for him. Its come to the point where the league is a chore, so it sounds like its time for Joe to go. Luckily, it appears that we have Steve to step in for Joe. Strange days have found us, indeed. I've brainstormed before that it may be something to consider in the future to have a couple guys co-manage a team. Maybe if the Joe-Steve two-headed monster works out this year, the idea may take hold.
I never would have envisioned that Joe would be in the SL for this long, but its been over 5 seasons and 800 games. I think there is always a franchise for Joe if he is in a situation that makes more sense for him to join. I'm keeping him on our email setup until he tells me to go scratch. It'll keep him up to speed for his next go-around. And I'll go into my next series looking to avoid getting schlitzed.
By Greg, 8.27.2002