The Forgotten Brewers Series: Part VIII

Bryan Edmund "Moose" Haas: The man, the myth, the legend. 

Milwaukee drafted Moose Haas in the second round of the 1974 draft as an 18-year-old high school senior from Baltimore, Maryland. A power pitcher, Haas made his major league debut as a late-season call-up on September 8, 1976. He earned a spot in the starting rotation in 1977 and made 32 starts, going 10-12 with a 4.33 ERA, 1.411 WHIP and 4.28 FIP.

In the spring of 1978, Haas seemed poised for stardom. On April 12, he struck out 14 New York Yankee batters to set a franchise record. It was a record that would stand for 26 years before being surpassed by Ben Sheets. (Sheets stuck out 18 Atlanta Braves batters on May 16, 2004.) Unfortunately, shortly thereafter, Haas blew out his elbow and missed the rest of the ’78 season.

The righthander would pitch for 10 seasons in Milwaukee. The 1980 and 1983 seasons were his best. Haas went 16-15 in 1980 with a 3.10 ERA, 1.197 WHIP and 3.56 FIP. In ’83 he went 13-3 with a 3.27 ERA, 1.184 WHIP and 3.51 FIP. Overall, Haas posted a 91-79 record with the Brew Crew and a 4.03 ERA. The 91 wins are the fourth most in Brewers history. In addition, his 231 games started are second, his 55 complete games are third, his 1542 innings pitched are third and his 800 career strikeouts rank fourth all-time. He complied a 14.4 WAR (Baseball Reference) in those 10 seasons.

 

For more on Moose Haas, follow the jump. 

 

 

Just before the start of the 1986 season, Haas was traded to Oakland for Mike Fulmer, Pete Kendrick, Steve Kiefer and Charlie O’Brien. Haas got off to a great start for the A’s in ‘86, going 7-2 with a 2.74 ERA before arm problems forced him out of the rotation. He appeared in just nine games in 1987. Oakland granted him free agency after the 1987 season and Haas retired from baseball. He currently works as a physical trainer and conditioning coach in Phoenix.

While Haas was a fine starter during the era of Harvey’s Wallbangers, what most remember about him is his nickname—Moose. Here’s where the myth part comes in. Wikipedia has the following explanation for the origin of his nickname.

"Moose" earned his nickname after an unfortunate weekend run-in with a full-grown moose while on vacation in the Appalachian mountains. The confrontation resulted in the 12-foot-tall (3.7 m) moose felled at the hands of Mr. Haas. The head of the moose (who Mr. Haas later named "Wallace") was hung in his dining room as a memento of that infamous meeting and remains on display to this day.

 

Two things came to mind after reading this. First, when did he kill said moose? In every article I found about Haas, he was already called Moose. Did this "unfortunate" encounter occur before high school graduation? Second, the article says that the moose was 12 feet tall. That’s scary tall. Wikipedia reports that the largest variety of the species is about seven feet tall at the shoulder. Yet, despite the irregularities in this account, the Wikipedia story is repeated over and over again.

 A website called Items of Potential Interest lists Moose Haas as No. 10 on the "Mustachioed Pitchers of the 1980s" list. It also links to a newspaper article that offers a contradictory story to the moose slaying saga.

An April 12, 1977 article from The Victoria Advocate, quotes the 6-foot, 170-pound Haas as saying that he had had the nickname for most of his life. "My dad gave me that almost the day I was born. He thought I would grow up to be a real big guy. It just never happened."

The (other) oddest little tidbit I could find about Haas appeared on the back of his 1987 Topps baseball card. "Moose has a Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is an amateur magician and certified locksmith." Haas reportedly liked to practice his martial arts with teammate Randy Lerch.

Moose Haas, you are no longer forgotten.

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