Charles Wallis Haeger (September 19, 1983 – October 3, 2020) was an American professional baseball player. He was one of the few knuckleball pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB) during his career.  He played in MLB for the Chicago White Sox, San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers. He was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot at the Grand Canyon on October 3, 2020, shortly after the suspected murder of his ex-girlfriend.
High school[edit source | edit]
Haeger attended Detroit Catholic Central High School in Redford, Michigan (now located in Novi). He was named to the All-Catholic team as a senior in 2001, after pitching to a 7–2 win-loss record with a 1.88 earned run average (ERA) and 101 strikeouts. He also batted .354 with 34 runs batted in (RBIs). He was the winning pitcher in the State Championship game as a sophomore.
Playing career[edit source | edit]
Chicago White Sox[edit source | edit]
The Chicago White Sox selected Haeger in the 25th round of the 2001 Major League Baseball draft. He made his professional debut with the AZL White Sox. He briefly retired to pursue a career in golf following the 2002 season, but returned in 2004. While in the minor leagues, he learned how to throw a knuckleball.
Haeger made his major league debut May 10, 2006, in a start against the Los Angeles Angels. He suffered the loss after allowing six runs on five hits in 41⁄3 innings. Haeger appeared in seven games for the White Sox, with a record of 1–1. He spent most of the season with the Charlotte Knights, and was the starting pitcher in the International League All-Star game.
On July 22, 2007, White Sox pitcher Jon Garland started against Boston Red Sox knuckleball pitcher Tim Wakefield. Garland was relieved by Haeger in the fifth inning, marking the first time in recent years that two knuckleballers faced each other in the same game. Wakefield got the victory as the Red Sox won, 8–5.
San Diego Padres[edit source | edit]
Los Angeles Dodgers[edit source | edit]
In January 2009, Haeger signed a minor league contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was assigned to the AAA Albuquerque Isotopes, and pitched well enough in the first half of the season to earn a spot on the Pacific Coast League All-Star team. The Dodgers called him up on August 12, and he made his team debut as the starting pitcher on August 17 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He appeared in six games for the Dodgers, three as a starter, and finished 1–1 with a 3.32 ERA.
Haeger began the 2010 season as the 5th starter in the Dodgers rotation. He accumulated a 0–4 record and an 8.40 ERA in nine appearances, six of them starts, and was designated for assignment on June 25. After clearing waivers, he was reassigned to Albuquerque. He made 10 starts for the Isotopes after his return, finishing 4–3 with a 5.70 ERA.
Later career[edit source | edit]
Haeger signed a minor league contract with the Seattle Mariners in November 2010, and was given an invitation to spring training. He went 2–2 with a 7.74 ERA in 9 starts for the Tacoma Rainiers before he was released on July 15.
On July 23, 2011, Haeger signed a minor league contract with the Boston Red Sox. He made eight starts for the AA Portland Sea Dogs, and was 4–1 with a 3.24 ERA. He re-signed with the Red Sox after the season, but he suffered an elbow injury in a long-toss session during spring training. Haeger underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2012 season. He returned to the Red Sox organization in 2013, pitching for the Pawtucket Red Sox.
Coaching[edit source | edit]
Haeger was a minor league pitching coordinator for the Tampa Bay Rays organization from 2016–2018 and was named as the pitching coach for the Chicago Cubs’ AA minor-league team, the Tennessee Smokies in 2020 but never served in the role as the Minor League Baseball season was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Death[edit source | edit]
On October 3, 2020, Haeger, 37, was found dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound on a trail along the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. He was a suspect in the shooting death of his 34-year-old ex-girlfriend the previous day in Scottsdale, Arizona.
See also[edit source | edit]
References[edit source | edit]
- Former MLB knuckleballer Charlie Haeger retires. Yawkey Way Report. Retrieved on September 10, 2014.
- Ackley, Madeline (October 3, 2020). "Former MLB player suspected of killing ex-girlfriend found dead of self-inflicted gunshot wound". AZ Central. Retrieved October 3, 2020.
- "Former MLB pitcher with Detroit Catholic Central ties sought in woman's killing found dead". The Detroit News. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- "Players" (PDF). Chicago White Sox. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Hill, David. "Chicago White Sox: Charlie Haeger dead in alleged murder-suicide". Calltothepen.com. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- "On Tim Wakefield, Charlie Haeger and the knuckleball | RSN". Nbcsports.com. February 20, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Gregor, Scot. "Ex-White Sox pitcher Haeger, sought in woman's killing, found dead". Daily Herald. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- "Charlie Haeger Trades and Transactions". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- "Charlie Haeger". MILB. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- "Chicago White Sox 2007 Media Guide" (PDF). MLB Advanced Media, L.P. pp. pgs. 90–91. Retrieved July 12, 2007.
- "Hensley Not Offered Contract by Padres". NBC San Diego. December 13, 2008. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- "Charlie Haeger Selected to PCL All-Star Team". Web.minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Pasillas, Clint. "Former Dodgers Pitcher Charlie Haeger Found Dead After Apparent Suicide". Dodgers Nation. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- Hernandez, Dylan. "Charlie Haeger is designated for assignment and his Dodgers career may be over". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- "Former Dodgers pitcher Charles Haeger found dead of self-inflicted gunshot after manhunt in murder case". ABC7. Retrieved October 5, 2020.
- Axisa, Mike. "Mariners Release Charlie Haeger". MLBTradeRumors.com. Retrieved July 17, 2011.
- Polishuk, Mark. "Red Sox Sign Charlie Haeger". MLBTradeRumors.com. Retrieved July 24, 2011.
- "2011 Portland Sea Dogs Statistics". Baseball-Reference.com.
- "5 Feb 2012, D4 - The Boston Globe at". Newspapers.com. February 5, 2012. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- By (August 19, 2013). "Charlie Haeger named I.L. Pitcher of the Week". MiLB.com. Retrieved October 6, 2020.
- Joyce, Thomas (September 10, 2014). "Former Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger Retires, Again". Yawkey Way. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- Greenberg, Jon (October 3, 2020). "Former Cubs minor-league coach Charlie Haeger dead after apparent suicide". The Athletic. Retrieved October 4, 2020.
- "Ex-pitcher Haeger, sought in murder, found dead". ESPN.com. October 3, 2020. Retrieved October 5, 2020.