Born: October 15, 1903
Died: June 30, 1974
Town: Montclair, New Jersey
George William “Mule” Haas was born October 15, 1903 in Montclair. He came from a baseball family—his father was a pitcher who was well known in New Jersey baseball. As a boy, he rooted for the local semipro team, the Clairmont Baseball Club. By the age of 18, he was its star. Back then, he was known as “Eggs” and he sold his services to whichever New Jersey team made him the best offer. While playing for the Orange Baseball Club in 1923, he signed his first professional contract and began his minor-league career.
After a brief, unsuccessful stint with the Pirates at age 21, Mule returned to the minors and built up his résumé with three good years in the Southern Association. It was during this time that an Atlanta sportswriter gave him the nickname Mule. Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Connie Mack was concerned with his aging centerfielder, Tris Speaker. Mack Purchased Mule’s contract for $10,000 and eased him into the lineup in 1928.
Shortly after Mule joined the A’s, an old friend was added to the roster. Pitcher George Earnshaw, three years older, was also a Montclair resident (though born in New York City).
Mule could hit for average and power, and had terrific speed. He was also a fantastic bunter and a legendary bench jockey. In his first full season, 1929, Mule ranked among the AL’s Top 10 in doubles, homers and runs.
The A’s won pennants in 1929, 1930 and 1931. In Game 4 of the 1929 series against the Cubs, Mule’s three-run inside-the-park homer sparked an historic comeback as the A’s erased an 8–0 deficit to win 10–8. In Game 5, his two-run homer in the bottom of the ninth tied the score. Philadelphia went on to win the game in extra innings, taking the series in five games.
In 1932, Mack began struggling financial and started selling off his stars. Mule was one of the first to go. He was sold to the White Sox after the 1932 season. He had four good seasons in Chicago before age and injuries limited him to a .207 average in 1937. Mack signed his old center fielder in 1938, for what turned out to be his last year as a big-leaguer. In a dozen seasons, he batted .292 and finished with more than 1,200 hits. He is also the only player to lead the AL in sacrifice bunts five years in a row.
Mule played one more minor-league season before accepting a coaching job with the White Sox in 1940. He stayed with the team through the war years, and then moved to the west coast to coach with the Hollywood Stars. After two years as a manager in the Southeastern League, he returned to New Jersey to run the athletic program at Fort Monmouth. He lived to age 70, dying from heart failure while visiting his son George Jr. in New Orleans. He was buried in his hometown of Montclair.