Moose Haas

This article was written by Dennis Degenhardt

Moose Haas (MILWAUKEE BREWERS)When his parents wanted him to have a backup plan in case the baseball thing didn’t work, his father taught him to be a locksmith. He was the second youngest starting pitcher1 to make his debut for the Brewers (20 years, 139 days), started second most games, and saw his career cut short while still young, only 31. Welcome to Moose Haas.

Bryan Edmund Haas was born on April 22, 1956, to George Edmund “Bud” Haas, a Baltimore police officer and Dorothy M. (Hailey) Haas, a florist in Baltimore, Maryland. Bud nicknamed him Moose as a baby because he thought he was going to as big as a moose with his broad shoulders. This did not happen and Haas played major-league baseball at 6 feet, 180 pounds.2 But the name stuck. He was the second of three children with an older brother, George Michael Haas and a younger sister, Dawn Renee Hass-Dauer.

In high school, Haas earned four letters in baseball and basketball playing for Franklin High School in Reistertown, a suburb of Baltimore. He excelled on the diamond as a pitcher, starting for three years and earning all-county honors once and all-metro twice. With scouts in attendance, the team captain threw a 1-0 no-hitter3 in his senior year. He also played sandlot baseball for renowned coach Sterling Fowble, who sent a number of players to the major leagues including Hall of Famer Al Kaline, Dave Boswell, Phil Linz, Jim Spencer, Tim Nordbrook, and Ron Swoboda.4  

Considered the best pitcher in Maryland, Haas was selected by the Brewers in the second round of the June 1974 amateur draft.5 Preferring baseball over college, he signed and reported to the Newark (New York) Co-Pilots of the short-season New York-Penn League. As one of the younger players, he started 13 games, completing six and going 5-5 with a 3.19 ERA. He was promoted to the Burlington (Iowa) Bees in the Class A Midwest League for 1975; he was nearly two years younger than the league-average player. A league all-star, he struck out nearly three batters for every walk and was 11-8 with a 2.05 ERA. In his only professional opportunity to bat, he got 15 hits for a .250 batting average with three home runs.

Although Haas was pegged for promotion to the Double-A Berkshire Brewers for the 1976 season, Frank Howard, managing the Brewers Triple-A team in Spokane, needed pitching, persuaded the front office that Haas could make the move, and then named him the Opening Day starter.6 Haas threw seven innings while yielding two earned runs with no decision as the Indians lost.7 Competing with players averaging age 25, Haas won his first Pacific Coast League game while still 19, the day before his birthday.8 He led the Indians in wins, finishing 13-9 on a team 13 games below .500. Only six PCL pitchers had more wins.

When major-league rosters expanded in September, Haas was promoted to Milwaukee; he never spent another day in the minors. Wearing the number 30,9 the 20-year-old rookie joined the team on September 8 in New York and was thrown into the fray, making his debut in the fifth inning with runners on the corners and no outs with the division-leading Yankees leading 4-0. The first batter he faced was Thurman Munson, who grounded out, driving in the fifth run. He then struck out Lou Piniella and got Chris Chambliss to ground out. In three innings, he allowed three hits and one run. His manager, Alex Grammas, said Haas “showed a lot of poise.”10 Haas admitted he was “nervous, but nothing about Yankee Stadium. I just wanted to do well.”11 He pitched in four more games, including two starts, with only one poor outing, a three-inning start in his hometown, Baltimore, where he walked six and yielded four earned runs. In 16 innings, he was 0-1 with a 3.94 ERA.

After a great spring, Haas was one of three rookies12 making the Brewers rotation in 1977 and opened his 1977 season where he debuted, Yankee Stadium. He hurled a strong 7⅔ innings, allowing a run in the second inning, then retiring 17 of 20 in a no-decision. His first major-league win came at Toronto, 3-1 on May 2. Through his first seven games, Haas’s ERA was 2.65 with a 3-1 record and six quality starts.13 He then slumped through June, seeing his ERA climb to 4.55 before reversing course with a strong July and being named the Brewers pitcher of the month, winning three of five decisions with two complete games. He finished the season 10-12 with a 4.33 ERA. The Milwaukee baseball writers named Haas the Brewers Rookie of the Year.14

Just before the season ended, Haas married Diana Landgrebe of Milwaukee on October 1. They would have one son, Joshua Ryan, born in 1984.

With the Brewers trading their oldest starter, Jim Slaton (age 27), and another out injured, new manager George Bamberger expected Haas to help pick up the slack in 1978. He pitched complete-game victories over the Orioles and Yankees to start the season. In defeating the New Yorkers, he fanned 14 batters,15 establishing a franchise record that held until 2004. Bamberger said, “It looks to me like this is the guy who might be the stopper on this club.”16 But those were his only victories, and his season stopped in the second inning of his fourth start, on April 20, when he heard a pop throwing a curveball. He went on the disabled list, diagnosed with a partial tear of the flexor muscle near the elbow.17 An attempted return in June didn’t work, and he returned to the DL with elbow tendinitis. Bamberger wanted Haas to pitch again, saying, “I want him to go home with a clear mind.”18 And he did, tossing three scoreless innings in the last game of the season. Haas felt good. “Now I can rest a little easier this winter knowing I can pitch and get somebody out,” he said. “The important thing was how my arm would feel, and it felt great.”19

Haas spent the offseason preparing for the 1979 campaign, strengthening the injured elbow, and it paid off as Haas played the entire season. Early in spring training he initially felt stiffness but no pain and stayed behind in Arizona to get in extra work before making his first start two weeks into the season. He tossed his first complete game and first win on May 2, his fourth outing, giving up one run in Cleveland. He continued to have success against the Indians, defeating them three times including his first major-league shutout on July 21, his second victory during the Brewers’ record-tying 10-game winning streak. One of Haas’s challenges returning from the injury was inconsistency. When he struggled, he was bad, his ERA topped at 6.24 and he lost 11 times. When he was good, he was great. In his 11 wins, he had a 2.34 ERA with seven complete games. Bamberger blamed it on missing nearly a year.20 Haas improved after the All-Star break and finished strong in September, a harbinger of the future, with a 3.29 ERA and three complete games. By season end, he had lowered his ERA to 4.78 in 184⅔ innings with his 95 strikeouts again leading the team. The improving Brewers finished second in the AL East.

A year removed from injury, Haas was optimistic about the 1980 season, being more consistent to win the pennant after finishing third then second. Although he started 1-3, he had only one poor outing. He reeled off six wins in his next 10 starts. In Baltimore, before friends and family, he tossed a five-hit shutout, winning in his hometown for the first time after three losses. His father was “tickled to death,” saying, “He idolized the Orioles as a kid. It’s nice to beat them right on their home grounds.”21 He was the American League Player of the Week through August 3 after allowing only one run in 16 innings. Haas was the needed stopper, shutting out the first-place Yankees on three hits to avoid a four-game sweep. He ended the season slumping, losing four of six with one exception, a two-hit 7-1 victory in Seattle. Haas led the Brewers with a 16-15 record, both career highs. He also set career highs by leading the team with 252⅓ innings pitched, 14 complete games, 3 shutouts, and 146 strikeouts.22 In Haas’s 15 losses the Brewers were shut out four times, and they scored two or fewer runs in 11 games. With better run support he would have easily been a 20-game winner.

After Haas’s best year, the Brewers added needed pitching in a blockbuster trade with St. Louis, acquiring starter Pete Vuckovich, closer Rollie Fingers, and All-Star catcher Ted Simmons in December.23 But the 1981 season was interrupted by a midseason players strike that wiped out all games from June 12 until August 10. There was a new division playoff format with each half’s winners meeting in a best-of-five series and the winner advancing to the league championships. Haas was not as consistent as in 1980, with his ERA remaining above 4.00 after May, topping at 4.97. He finished the first half with a 5-4 record, his team finished third and needing a second-half turnaround to make the playoffs. Haas saved his best for his last two starts, throwing a new split-finger fastball. At Detroit versus the contending Tigers, his eight-inning five-hit win returned the Brewers to first place. He was even better in a must-win game against the Tigers at home with a complete-game victory. Opposing manager Sparky Anderson said, “He was super tonight.”24 The excited fans called Haas out for a curtain call as the Brewers needed one win with two games remaining to clinch their first postseason berth; they won that the next night. Haas finished with an 11-7 record, leading the team in complete games.

Haas started Game One of the Division Series against the New York Yankees25 but didn’t last long, surrendering eight hits and four runs in 3⅓ innings and losing 5-3 at County Stadium. Haas had an opportunity to redeem himself in the decisive Game Five. As in Game One, he did not get out of the fourth inning, giving up back-to-back home runs to Reggie Jackson and Oscar Gamble as the Brewers lost 7-3. The Yankees got to him for 13 hits and seven earned runs in 6⅔ innings.

Like his teammates, Haas spent more time looking forward to the next season than backward. Getting going was delayed when an 8.7-inch snowstorm wiped out the 1982 home opener and first series. Through May, Haas had nine starts and one relief appearance but only a 2-2 record, often due to poor run support and arm soreness. His first complete game, on May 20, an important 4-1 victory, prevented the struggling Brewers from slipping to .500. On June 2, GM Harry Dalton fired manager Buck Rodgers and named Harvey Kuenn interim manager, because the team was not playing up to his expectations. That move became the catalyst to winning the pennant. Haas won the second game under Kuenn, and six before August, including four straight in July. But he struggled in six August starts and became the odd man out when the Brewers acquired starter Don Sutton at the trading deadline. After Haas’s start on September 2, his 10th win, he went to the bullpen as he admitted, “I haven’t been pitching as well as I can. I know that.”26 Haas made only five appearances the remainder of the season. He earned his 11th win in relief on September 8 and had a three-inning scoreless save27 on September 28 to protect the Brewers’ three-game lead entering the final weekend in Baltimore when the Brewers won the finale and advanced to the ALCS. Haas repeated with 11 wins, with a 4.47 ERA.

Haas again pitched in the postseason, making his first start in nearly a month in the must-win ALCS Game Four, earning a big 9-5 win over the Angels. The Brewers won the biggest game in franchise history the next day, 4-3, to advance to the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. Haas was unsure of his Series role until he was notified before Game Two that he would start Game Four. His response: “I’m excited, I’ve dreamed about it.”28  In 5⅓ innings he allowed five runs, falling behind 5-1, but the Brewers’ six-run seventh-inning rally clinched a 7-5 victory, tying the Series at two games each. He relieved in the sixth inning of Game Seven with the Brewers trailing, 4-3, two men on base, with two outs, and coaxed an inning-ending groundball. But the Brewers could not score again, and the Cardinals won their ninth championship, 6-3.29 Haas’s postseason experience was very disappointing with a 7.17 ERA over the past two years.

After a disappointing season and playoff experience, Haas went from “power pitcher to reliable pitcher,” adding a changeup in spring training.30 He struggled with consistency and bad luck in his first six starts with four no-decisions and a 1-1 record with a 5.03 ERA. His first complete game wasn’t until May 31, a 5-2 victory in Oakland, and he said, “I can feel it’s turning. These things usually even out.”31 He was right on; a victory over the Tigers on June 21 dropped his ERA to 4.06. On July 2, he won his sixth game but had to leave after five innings with a tender elbow. In 11 starts after the All-Star break, Haas had a 7-1 record with four complete games and three shutouts, including a five-game winning streak. During this stretch he tossed 28 scoreless innings in August, a franchise record until 1987.32 And then the train left the tracks, with a sore arm ending his season the week of Labor Day. After he skipped a start due to soreness, Haas’s last game, on September 9, was an eight-inning 2-1 win in Detroit. Haas went on the DL and the Brewers went on a 10-game losing streak resulting in their elimination from the playoffs. Still the 1983 season was one of Haas’s best, his fifth in a row (and last) with double-digit wins, 13. With only three losses, his .813 winning percentage was the league best.

Coming into spring training in 1984, Haas was not concerned after having a clean November examination and resting his arm. But it was a bad season for the Brewers: They were below .500 for the first time since 1978, winning only 67 games with poor offense and bullpen performance, both of which cost Haas opportunities for victories. After losing his first two starts on the road with poor mechanics, he earned his first win starting his first home opener.33 He pitched well, but was unable to run a winning streak longer than two games. Haas pitched well on a poor team, deserving better than a 9-11 record with a 3.99 ERA. His four complete games matched Mike Caldwell for the team lead and with only 13 the Brewers set the AL record for futility.34 During the season he fought through some arm soreness and dealt with a divorce from Diana.35 Diana and Moose had one son, Joshua born in 1984.

In 1985, Haas started his first-ever season opener, at home with the familiar lack of offensive support plus poor defense, three unearned runs, for a 4-1 defeat. But he was 5-2 with a 2.62 ERA over his first 10 starts, yielding more than three earned runs only once. On June 29 he hurled the best game of his career, with only Don Mattingly’s one-out double in the seventh ending Haas’s no-hit bid. He finished with an 84-pitch, one-hit shutout at Yankee Stadium.

After the All-Star break, Haas struggled going deeper than five innings, leaving his start on July 30 because of shoulder stiffness diagnosed as tendinitis and not pitching until a relief appearance on August 17. Returning to the rotation, he wasn’t very sharp, finally earning a win on August 30. It was his first since his June gem and his last “W” as a Brewer. He left his final start on September 26 with a loss and with sore triceps. After starting with a 7-3 record through June with a 2.38 ERA, he finished at .500, 8-8, with his ERA rising to 3.84 as he struggled with injuries. With another poor year for the Brewers, changes were anticipated, with Haas high on the trade list.

With too many young arms, Haas became expendable at age 29, traded to Oakland on Easter Sunday, March 30, 1986, for four minor leaguers.36 After many rumors, Haas was relieved. “There’s some sadness in leaving,” he commented. “I’m leaving some guys I played with a long time, and the city of Milwaukee was great to me. But I’m happy to go somewhere I’m wanted.”37

Haas repaid the welcome, winning his first six games, allowing two or fewer runs in each, and receiving strong offensive support with the A’s averaging 9.2 runs per game.38 His streak ended the next game when he lost to Boston, tying a career high with six walks. He won his next start, in Baltimore, thanks to an early seven-run lead. Then, at New York on May 21, he left after two innings because of stiffness in his shoulder. Haas made two attempts to return, in June and July, but experienced pain and was shut down with bursitis. As he did with 1978’s injury, he made an encouraging start on October 1, allowing no runs with two hits in five innings. What started with a bang, ended in a whimper: He missed over half of the season, making 12 starts, going 7-2 with a 2.74 ERA.

Although concerned with his health but encouraged by his end-of-season start, the A’s signed Haas as a free agent for the 1987 season. Their fears were well founded. Haas started the season on the 21-day disabled list with a pulled rotator-cuff muscle39 and didn’t make his first start until May 1. He made only nine starts in all, getting his 100th and last win on May 27. On June 19 he left his start with a sore elbow and did not pitch again. His 2-2 mark and 5.75 ERA were an unfortunate end to a good 12-year career. Once a strikeout pitcher he had only 13. The A’s released Haas on November 9, 1987.

Haas wasn’t ready to call it quits in 1988, trying out with the San Francisco Giants and working out with Phoenix during the summer. He tried out with the California Angels the following season, but his arm was not up to the task.

After his baseball career, while pursuing his interest in fitness and conditioning, Haas developed a relationship with the Brewers’ one-time aerobics instructor and left his wife for her. Together they raised thoroughbred race horses in Arizona and California for 12 years before breaking up in the mid-1990s.40 Haas became a strength and conditioning coach with certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association and continues doing so part-time with figure skaters while residing in Arizona. He was inducted into the Maryland Athletic Hall of Fame in 1992 and the Milwaukee Brewers Wall of Fame in 2014. In December, 2002, he married Julie Patterson, a Canadian professional skater who spent 14 years with the Ice Capades. Haas was also an active participant in the annual Brewers Fantasy Camp, traditionally tossing the first inning of the first game versus the campers.41

 

Acknowledgments

Special thanks to SABR member Bill Mortell of Maryland, whose knowledge of Ancestry.com and research skills have proven invaluable in finding information on Haas. Tracking down his family history was a true challenge for Bill.  

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author also accessed Retrosheet.org, Baseball-Reference.com, SABR.org, and The Sporting News archive via Paper of Record.

 

Notes

1 The youngest starting pitcher was Kevin Kobel, 19, who pitched in two games June 1973. Dave LaPoint is listed as pitching at age 20 with his debut on September 10, 1980, but his birthday is listed as July 29, 1959, making him 21.

2 Chuck Stewart, “Haas Answers Moose Calls With Victories at Spokane,” The Sporting News, August 7, 1976: 31.

3 National Baseball Hall of Fame, Moose Haas file.

4 The Sun, Obit for Virginia E.K. Foble, 87, baseball scorekeeper, GenealogyBank.com.  ???? Baltimore Sun?  Date? Page number? The Baltimore Sun, June 23, 2005.

5 The second-round draft choice was signed by Brewers scout Brad Kohler.

6 Stewart.

7 Ibid.

8 “Coast Toasties,” The Sporting News, May 8, 1976: 33.

9 Haas wore the number 30 with both major-league teams, the Brewers and Oakland A’s.

10 Lou Chapman. “Brewer Rookie Stars but His Mates Don’t,” Milwaukee Sentinel, September 9, 1976: Part 2, 1.

11  Ibid.

12 Lou Chapman, “Brewers Put Their Money on 2nd Base,” The Sporting News, April 23, 1977: 24. In addition to Haas, the rookies included Barry Cort and Gary Beare.

13 For a quality start a starting pitcher must complete at least six innings while yielding three or fewer earned runs.

14 Lou Chapman, “Augustine Is Dean of Brewers Pitchers at 25,” The Sporting News, January 21, 1978: 57.

15 Included in the 14 K’s was future Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, who whiffed four times.

16 Mike Gonring, “Haas’s Pitching on the Money,” Milwaukee Journal, April 21, 1978: Part 2, 1.

17 Mike Gonring, “Haas’ Injury, Then Red Sox, Jolt Brewers,” Milwaukee Journal, April 21, 1978: Part 2, 1.

18 Mike Gonring, “Brewers’ Season Ends Up Smashingly,” Milwaukee Journal, October 1, 1978: Part 2, 11.

19  Ibid.

20 Mike Gonring, “Davis Jumps Off Bench to Fuel Brewer Attack,” The Sporting News, June 23, 1979: 7.

21 Tom Flaherty, “Haas Junks Baltimore Jinx with a Sentimental Shutout,” Milwaukee Journal, June 4, 1980: 14.

22 This was the only time Haas exceeded 200 innings pitched.

23 The future Hall of Famer Rollie Fingers and Pete Vuckovich would win the next two Cy Young Awards with Fingers adding MVP to his 1981 Cy Young.

24 Tom Flaherty, “Haas Stands as a Hero Among Brewer Heroes,” Milwaukee Journal, October 3, 1982: 10.

25 The Yankees were a familiar playoff foe for Milwaukee fans who recalled their Braves playing them in the 1957 (win) and 1958 (loss) World Series.

26 Tom Flaherty, “Great Debut for Sutton … Until the End,” Milwaukee Journal, September 3, 1982: Part 2, 10.

27 This was the second of two career saves.

28 “Molitor’s Hits Tie a World Series Record,” Milwaukee Journal, October 14, 1982: Part 3, 2.

29  The Cardinals won in 1926, 1931, 1934, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1964, 1967 and 1982.

30 Peter Gammons, “Brewers Win Without Power,” The Sporting News, August 29, 1983: 29.

31 Tom Flaherty, “Pieces Finally Fall in Place for Haas, Brewers,” Milwaukee Journal, June 1, 1983: Part 2, 9.

32 Haas pitched shutouts on August 5 and 10 and eight innings on the 15th. On August 21 he stretched the streak two more innings, then gave up a run in the third.

33 “Notes & Quotes,” Milwaukee Sentinel, April 18, 1984: Part 2, 2. Pitching coach Pat Dobson said Haas was throwing across his body.

34 Tom Flaherty, “Bamberger Counting on Stars,” The Sporting News, October 29, 1984: 48. The record does not include strike-shortened years. For a twenty-first-century perspective on how the game has changed, the 2018 Milwaukee Brewers had zero complete games.

35  Vic Feuerherd, “Haas Evolved as a Pitcher,” Milwaukee Sentinel, April 9, 1985: Part 2, 1.

36  The players received in the trade with Oakland were Mike Fulmer, Pete Kendrick, infielder Mike Kiefer and catcher Charlie O’Brien.

37 Tom Haudricourt, “Moose Is Dealt to A’s,” Milwaukee Sentinel, March 31, 1986: Part 2, 1.

38 “A.L. West,” The Sporting News, May 19, 1986: 21.

39 “A.L. West,” The Sporting News, April 13, 1987: 22.

40 Tom Haudricourt, Where Have You Gone, ’82 Brewers? (Stevens Point,Wisconsin: KCI Sports Publishing, 2007), 59-62.

41 I had the pleasure of having Moose as my fantasy camp coach in 2005 and I am eternally grateful he allowed me to turn a triple into a double with the old wheels struggling to run the bases.

Full Name

Bryan Edmund Haas

Born

April 22, 1956 at Baltimore, MD (USA)

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