After four seasons of double-digit victories as a starter for the Dodgers (1946–49), left-handed pitcher Joe Hatten started only twenty-eight games over the next three seasons. He then departed the Major Leagues for a long career in the Minors.
When Hatten was asked what single thrill he remembered from his days as a Major Leaguer, he replied, “I remember Brooklyn and liked it very much. I can’t just pick out any one thrill. Every day was a thrill while playing in Brooklyn. I thought they were a great bunch of fans.”1
Joseph Hilarian Hatten was born on November 7, 1916, in Bancroft, Iowa. He was the fourth of eleven children (six girls and five boys) born to Frank and Gertrude Hatten. Frank owned a harness-making shop, a lively trade in a period when horses were still important to American commerce.
Joe’s first experience at playing baseball was at the Junior American Legion level as a teenager. When he grew too old for Legion ball, he played semipro baseball around Bancroft for four years. In 1938 Hatten signed a Minor League contract with Sioux City of the Nebraska State League. However, the Cowboys released him a month into the season, and there is no evidence that he got into any games.
Joe Hatten won seventeen games in 1947, sixteen against
Hatten signed the next year, 1939, with Crookston (Minnesota) of the Class D Northern League. In his first full professional season, he led the team in victories, posting a 14–14 win-loss record for the last-place club. He had an earned run average of 3.02 and led the league with 299 strikeouts, including 21 in one game. In 1940 Hatten played for the Dodgers’ Class B Anniston (Alabama) farm club of the Southeastern League. The competition was tougher and Joe slipped to 7–18 with a 5.31 ERA. Yet in 1941 Hatten found himself pitching at the top Minor League level, with the unaffiliated Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. He won five and lost six, pitching both in a starting role and in relief.
Andy Cohen of the Dodgers had been scouting Hatten as a Minor Leaguer. Based on Cohen’s