Homer Chase “Bill” Hausen spent more than 15 years playing in minor and independent leagues—but was almost banished from baseball in 1900.
He was born on September 8 in Franklin Grove, Illinois—records differ regarding the year–most say 1872, some say 1870–and began playing on independent teams near his northern Illinois hometown. Hausen made his professional debut in the Eastern Iowa League with Ottumwa in 1895; primarily a catcher, he also played first base and outfield.
In 1898 he played with the Kansas City Blues in the Western League, and expected to remain with the club the following season, but according to The Sedalia Democrat he had a dispute with fellow catcher Bill “Scrappy” “Big Bill” Wilson:
“(T)hey were rivals for the hand of Mrs. Jessie Pierce a pretty widow…Hausen was the favored one and much ill feeling resulted between the two men that he charged Wilson with having secured his (Hausen’s) release from the Kansas City team.”
The bad blood culminated on July 9, 1900. Hausen, a member of the Sioux City Cornhuskers, came to the plate. Wilson was catching for the Omaha Omahogs.
“Hausen says Wilson was continually badgering him during the Sioux City-Omaha games… (On July 9, Wilson) made a derogatory remark concerning Mrs. Pierce’s character and Hausen felled him with a bat.”
The Omaha Bee said:
“The most disgraceful affair ever witnessed on a ball diamond in Sioux City took place today when Hausen of the Sioux City club deliberately struck ‘Big Bill’ Wilson of the Omaha team in the head with a bat, stretching him out on the ground.
“The assault was followed by great excitement during which Hausen was placed under arrest and quietly hurried off the grounds by a policeman. “
The Bee said the two “had bad words” every time Hausen came to the plate.
“(I)n the eighth inning they had words as usual. It looked as if Wilson dared Hausen to hit him and Hausen tapped his mask with the bat. A few more words were said and then Hausen swung the bat and struck Wilson above the left ear.”
After hitting Wilson, Hausen went towards the Sioux City bench while fans ran on the field. Omaha President “Buck” Keith ran across the field towards Hausen:
“(Keith) called Hausen a coward. ‘If I had a gun I’d fill you full of holes.’ He declared.
“Hausen still held the bat and dared Keith to come on. Keith might have done so if an officer had not cleared the field. The excitement had grown intense. An Omaha rooter was offering 5 for a rope and a Sioux City rooter at his side cried ‘Hang him! Hang the coward.’
Hausen was held for a short time at the police station while the Western League took immediate action.
The Associated Press (AP) said:
“President Thomas J. Hickey of the Western League, last night issued an order blacklisting Hausen of Sioux City for probably fatally assaulting Bill Wilson…Hausen used a ball bat, inflicting injuries on Wilson’s head that leave him irrational much of the time.”
The reports of Wilson’s impending demise were premature. The catcher recovered and was back in the line up within two weeks.
The blacklisted Hausen quickly caught on with a semi-pro team in Rock Rapids, Iowa.
While his banishment seemed to be the correct recourse, Hausen was not without his supporters, who claimed he was not entirely at fault.
The Sioux City Tribune pointed out that Hausen “was a very quiet chap,” while Wilson had been disciplined numerous times for “using abusive language,” directed at umpires and other players.
In fact, Wilson’s temper was well-known. In 1896, while playing for the Columbus Buckeyes he attacked an umpire named Clark twice during the same game in Minneapolis—as was the case in Sioux City, he came out on the short end–twice. The St. Paul Globe said:
“Umpire Clark was forced into two fights by Bill Wilson…Clark got the best of Wilson in both encounters, and not only was Wilson battered up, but he is out $10, and President Ban Johnson says that he will be severely dealt with and probably suspended. It was a sorry day for Bill.”
Hausen had the last laugh. Two weeks after the incident The Sedalia Democrat reported:
“The last act in the little drama was enacted at Sioux City on Friday. When Mrs. Pierce learned how much Hausen had sacrificed to protect her reputation, she went at once to Sioux City. Hausen met her at the train and late in the afternoon a marriage license was secured.”
Wilson turned to a life of crime after his baseball career ended, and was murdered in 1924.
On Wednesday—Hausen on the receiving end.