Charles Wallis Haeger
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 200 lb.
- School Madonna University
- High School Catholic Central High School
- Debut May 10, 2006
- FInal Game June 24, 2010
- Born September 19, 1983 in Livonia, MI USA
- Died October 3, 2020 in Grand Canyon National Park, AZ USA
Knuckleballer Charlie Haeger pitched some major league games each season starting in 2006 until 2010, when he started the season as part of the Los Angeles Dodgers starting rotation. As with most knuckleballers, his outings could be highly unpredictable, with some of them tremendous successes and other flops.
Charlie was signed out of high school by the Chicago White Sox and scouts Ken Stauffer and Nathan Durst in the 25th round of the 2001 amateur draft. He was 0-3, 6.39 for the AZL White Sox that year and 1-4, 4.17 with a team-high 6 saves the next year. He then retired and did not play in 2003. However, the following year, after developing a knuckleball, he returned to the Sox organization.
In 2004, he worked with the Bristol White Sox (1-6, 5.02) and the Kannapolis Intimidators (1-3, 2.01). He had a quite successful 2005 season, going 8-2 with a 3.20 ERA for the Class A Winston-Salem Warthogs before being promoted to the AA Birmingham Barons, where he posted a 6-3 record and had a 3.78 ERA. Overall, Haeger led the Sox farm system with 14 wins, and he struck out 112 batters in 26 starts.
Haeger began the 2006 season with the AAA Charlotte Knights, where he went 3-0 with an 0.68 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 6 starts. Haeger was promoted to the majors in May to take the spot of the injured Jose Contreras in the White Sox rotation. After one start on May 10th, he was returned to Charlotte, where he ended the season with a 14-6 record and a 3.07 ERA. In September, the Sox called him up again, and he went 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 1 save out of the team's bullpen. Baseball America rated him the #19 prospect in the International League.
Haeger spent most of 2007 back with Charlotte, where he went 5-16 with a 4.08 ERA. He also appeared in 8 games with the Sox but went 0-1 and posted a 7.15 ERA. He then pitched 4 times in relief for the San Diego Padres in 2008 and was with the Dodgers in 2009 and 2010. He had his longest opportunity to show what he could do that final year, when he pitched 9 times including 6 starts and logged 30 innings. However, the results were poor, with a record of 0-4 and an ERA of 8.40. He continued to pitch in the minors after that, spending 2011 and 2013 in the Boston Red Sox organization while sitting out 2012. He had decent results, but was not given another shot at the big leagues and retired after the 2013-14 winter league season.
Haeger's brother Greg Haeger played in the Detroit Tigers farm system. Charlie also played golf at the same university his brother coaches baseball at, Madonna University. He attended the university during his short retirement in 2003.
Haeger was scheduled to be the pitching coach of the Tennessee Smokies in 2020 before the season was cancelled due to Covid-19. He came to a rather sordid end as police found his body near a trail at the south rim of the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, dead of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound. He had been sought for questioning as the principal suspect in the fatal shooting of 34-year-old Danielle Breed the night before in Scottsdale, AZ. He had been seen by a witness leaving the victim's bedroom while holding a handgun, which he pointed at the witness, who escaped and notified authorities. His unoccupied vehicle was found near Flagstaff, AZ, prompting police to search the vicinity, which is how they came upon his corpse.