RIP to Don Hasenmayer, who played in 11 games as a teenager in the 1940s. He died on January 28 at the age of 92. Hasenmayer played for the Philadelphia Phillies (1945-46).
Don Hasenmayer was born on April 4, 1927, in Roslyn, Pa. According to his obituary, he could be found regularly on a ballfield growing up in Roslyn. He attended Abington High School and was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies after his graduation in 1944. Scout Jocko Collins first spotted him playing high school ball and was so impressed that he came back to watch Hasenmayer play for a local semi-pro team. After watching Hasenmayer there, Collins snapped him up for the Phils. His first assignment was with the Bradford Blue Wings, a Class-D team in the PONY (Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York) League. Hasenmayer was one of only 3 players on the team who would go on to play in the majors, along with Barney Schultz and Jack Crimian.
The 17-year-old Hasenmayer was put into the lineup on May 5, 1944, and he hardly left after that. The third baseman hit .337 in 97 games with 23 doubles and 23 triples, as well as 4 homers. He stole 24 bases, including home three times. He was so popular that before he was promoted to the Wilmington Blue Rocks, fans at his last game took up a collection for the youngster that netted $140. He closed out his year by hitting .288 for the Class-B Blue Rocks.
Hasenmayer was added to the Phillies roster in mid-April 1945, when general manager Herb Pennock traded pitcher Hilly Flitcraft to the Blue Rocks for him. Manager Freddie Fitzsimmons was impressed by his quick throws to first base on grounders and thought he was a fine third base prospect. He was one of several teenagers on the Phillies roster — a necessity due to the fact that World War II had drained the game of so many established players. Hasenmayer himself was due to take his pre-induction physical by mid-May, so the clock was already ticking on his availability.
Hasenmayer made his MLB debut at third base on May 2, when starter Jimmie Foxx was given the day off to tend to his sick son. Hasenmayer, who celebrated his 18th birthday about a month prior, went 0-for-4 against the Giants. He then went through a baptism by fire, playing both ends of a double-header on consecutive days against the Brooklyn Dodgers on May 5 and 6. He got into game one on May 5 after fellow 18-year-old Granny Hamner made three errors at shortstop. Fitzsimmons benched him, moved Garvin Hammer (Granny’s older brother) to short and inserted Hasenmayer at second. He played a total of 32 innings over the next two days, as the Dodgers swept both doubleheaders. His first MLB hit was a single off Curt Davis that scored Foxx. He added a single and an intentional walk in the second game and then went hitless in both games on May 6. Less than a week later, Hasenmayer entered the U.S. Navy.
Hasenmayer was stationed on the aircraft carrier USS Kearsage as it traveled to Cuba. He was discharged in July 1946 and returned to the Phillies. Pennock sent him to the Utica Blue Sox of the Eastern League. In one of his first games back in pro ball, he clubbed two triples. However, he showed some rust after being out of baseball for more than a year and failed to hit .200. Nonetheless, he was one of the players whom the Phillies brought to the major leagues in September. He was used mainly as a pinch runner and a pinch hitter, though he did get some starts at third base at the end of the season. His sole hit was a double off the Giants’ Bill Voiselle.
In his 11 games in the majors leagues, Hasenmayer had 3 hits in 30 at-bats for a .100/.156/.133 slash line. He had the one extra-base hit and drove in a run. He played in the minor leagues through 1951 and spent 1950 as the player-manager of the Vandergrift (Pa.) Pioneers of the Middle Atlantic League. He found his power stroke there. He hit 18 homers for the Pioneers in 1950 and added 4 more for the Portsmouth Cubs of the Piedmont League, after the Vandergrift team folded. He once had seven hits in a game while playing for the Blue Rocks in 1948. The Blue Rocks pitcher, a young Robin Roberts, threw a 1-hitter in a 23-1 win over Hagerstown.
On May 4, 1947, Hasenmayer was playing for the Terre Haute Phillies under manager Ray Brubaker, his old skipper from the Bradford Blue Wings. Hasenmayer slammed a home run in the ninth inning to tie the game at 3-3. Shortly after, the excitement of the game caused Brubaker to drop dead of a heart attack at the age of 54. The game was called.
Hasenmayer quit baseball in 1951 and returned to Roslyn, where he got a job with his father in the contracting business. He stayed in Pennsylvania and coached Little League and American Legion teams in Hatboro. He and his late wife, Theresa, raised three children there. He frequently attended Phillies alumni games and took part in autograph sessions.