John Mueller
 

 

mueller.jpg (22274 bytes)

JOHN L. MUELLER

Born: February 13, 1921
Place: Morton Grove, Illinois
Died: June 23, 1995
Place: Santa Ana, California

Height: 6'-2"
Weight: 200

Batted: Right
Threw: Right

Positions:
Third Base
Outfield

Teams:
Hopkinsville Hoppers
Union City Greyhounds

Kitty League All-Star 1949, 1950

 


In the spring of 1941, 19-year-old John Mueller dropped out of Lane Tech High School and paid his own way to Hopkinsville, Kentucky and pursued his dream of playing professional baseball. Riding the bench with a veteran outfield already in place, it looked like he would be released when club rosters were reduced in June.

But the trade of outfielder Mel Reist to the Jackson Generals proved to be just the stroke of luck young Mueller needed. While the pitcher Hopkinsville received for the veteran Reist didnít last very long, his replacement in left field did. Mueller batted .318 with 11 home runs, 97 runs batted in, and 16 stolen bases for the 2nd place Hoppers. The Detroit Tigers organization were so impressed that they paid the Hoppers $1,500 for his contract at the end of the season.

Detroit initially sent Mueller to their Class B Winston-Salem club in the Piedmont League at the start of the 1942 season. When he failed to adapt to the higher level, they dropping him down to their Class C Pittsfield club in the Canadian-American League where was more successful, batting .340.

But like so many other young players at the time, Muellerís potential was never fully realized. He was drafted into the Army and served three years in World War II. Once he returned to baseball, he was 24 years old and was, by major league standards, no longer considered a prospect.

Mueller was named player-manager at Detroitís Class D Nazareth, Pennsylvania club in 1946, but he was hampered by a knee injury and released in July. He underwent surgery on the knee over the winter and signed with his old Kitty League team in Hopkinsville for the 1948 season.

Wearing a brace for his repaired knee, Mueller led the Hoppers to a pennant-winning season, finishing with the third-best winning percentage in league history. He batted .360 with 11 homers and 98 RBI and even stole 10 bases. A year later, he took over as player-manager at Hopkinsville and led the club to a respectable third-place finish. His batting average improved to .373 with 31 doubles and a Kitty League career-high 98 RBI. He more than doubled his stolen bases with 30.

Mueller was named player-manager of the Union City Greyhounds in 1950. He took his productive bat with him and contributed a .343 batting average and 60 RBI. But the Greyhounds finished in seventh place and he was not brought back the following season.

During four seasons in the Kitty League, John Mueller amassed the highest career batting average in league history (.348). His 352 runs batted in are fifth-best for players between 1935 and 1955, his 115 doubles rank sixth and his 548 hits rank eighth.  

 

 

 

Kitty League Batting Statistics

YEAR CLUB BA G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB
1941 Hopkinsville .318 119 459 80 146 31 9 11 97 16
1948 Hopkinsville .360 95 383 84 138 29 4 11 98 10
1949 Hopkinsville .373 115 400 97 149 31 6 5 97 30
1950 Union City .343 99 335 65 115 24 4 4 60 7
Total 4 seasons .348 428 1577 326 548 115 23 31 352 63

 

 

 

(c) 2006 Kevin D. McCann. All rights reserved.