Six former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, plus one game of note. Current Pirates pitcher Yohan Ramirez turns 28 today.
On this date in 1951, Cliff Chambers pitched the second complete game no-hitter in team history. Nick Maddox pitched the first complete game (nine innings) no-hitter in 1907. Howie Camnitz also tossed a shortened no-hitter in 1907, with the game being called due to darkness. One year earlier, Lefty Leifield pitched a shortened no-hitter during the second game of a doubleheader. For Chambers, it was not your typical no-hitter. He didn’t dominate the Boston Braves that day, walking eight hitters, while striking out four. He also threw two wild pitches. Boston had base runners in six different innings. The Pirates won 3-0 that day, with Chambers driving in the third run. Just like with Leifield’s game (and the other two shortened no-hitters), Chambers was also pitching the second game of a doubleheader. Here’s the boxscore from Baseball-Reference. The Pirates traded Chambers to the St Louis Cardinals just six weeks after his no-hitter.
Alberto Lois, outfielder/pinch-runner for the 1978-79 Pirates. He was a talented player who had questionable desire to play the game according to many. Lois was signed as an 18-year-old in 1974 out of the Dominican Republic. He went right to A-ball, where he hit .260 for Charleston of the Western Carolinas League, with 49 runs, 18 extra-base hits, 35 RBIs, 51 walks, 37 stolen bases and a .704 OPS in 119 games. That season would be the only one in which he played 100 games, missing time each year due to injuries and assorted ailments. He was still able to move up the minor league ladder quickly due to hitting .302 for Salem of the Carolina League in 1975, with 54 runs, 24 extra-base hits, 33 RBIs, 40 walks, 24 steals and an .850 OPS in 83 games. Lois then improved to a .316 average in 1976, with 60 runs, 30 extra-base hits, 41 RBIs, 33 steals and an .803 OPS over 96 games, splitting the season between Shreveport of the Double-A Texas League and Charleston of the Triple-A International League. His OPS dropped that year due to his walk rate being cut in half. He slipped to a .282 average in 1977 at Triple-A Columbus of the International League. He played just 49 games that year, finishing with 21 runs, seven extra-base hits (no doubles), 17 RBIs, 17 steals and a .761 OPS.
Despite the missed time and drop in production, the Pirates were still considering Lois for their 1978 Opening Day roster. He ended up spending that season in the minors, though he missed half of the year due to injury. He played a total of 73 games, split between Columbus (49 games) and Salem (24 games). He hit .264 between both stops, with 39 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 31 RBIs, 12 steals and a .714 OPS. Lois got called up to the majors for the first time in September of 1978. He played just two games through the end of the month, once as a pinch-runner and once as a defensive replacement in left field, without getting a plate appearance. The Pirates were eliminated from the playoffs in the next to last game of the year. Lois got the start in left field during the final game of the season. He went 1-for-4 with a triple. He played winter ball in the Dominican in the 1978-79 off-season, but some mediocre play limited his playing time according to Pirates Vice President Harding Peterson.
Lois arrived late to Spring Training in 1979 due to visa issues and his wife being sick, then got hurt almost immediately after he reported. He played just 18 minor league games before getting recalled by the Pirates in mid-August, though he was returned to the minors just days later until the rosters expanded on September 1st. Prior to joining the Pirates, his limited minor league time was basically just him rehabbing from a knee surgery over three levels of the minors. He did well during that time, batting .302/.403/.491 in 62 plate appearances, spending most of his time with Buffalo of the Double-A Eastern League. He got into eleven of the last 42 games of the season for the 1979 Pirates, all as a pinch-runner. He scored six runs and stole one base. It was noted when he came up that Matt Alexander, who was their go to guy for pinch-running earlier in the year, was stuck in the minors because he had to pass through waivers before he could be recalled. So instead of risking losing him, they brought up Lois, who was said to be 100% healthy from the knee surgery by then. When the Pirates split up World Series shares after winning their fifth championship, Lois was one of eight players to get $250 cash grants. Four of those players never left the bench in September, and one (Harry Saferight) never played a big league game. Lois was injured in a car accident in the Dominican during the 1979-80 off-season. He never returned to play ball, but there was hope for a short time. The Pirates signed him for 1980. They placed him on the disabled list, but an eye injury from the accident left him unable to play again.
Dick Cole, infielder for the Pirates in 1951 and then from 1953 until 1956. He was originally signed by the St Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent in 1943, but didn’t make his big league debut until the 1951 season. Despite being just 17 years old in 1943, Cole debuted in the Double-A Pacific Coast League, just one step from the majors at the time. He batted .224 in 26 games, with one extra-base hit (a triple) and one walk, leading to a .484 OPS. He moved down two levels in 1944 to Allentown of the Class-B Interstate League. Through the beginning of August, he had a .281 average, with 76 runs, 28 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and a.718 OPS in 97 games, before Uncle Sam came calling. He missed the end of 1944, all of 1945, and part of 1946 while serving in the Army. Cole played 37 games during the 1946 season for Columbus of the Triple-A American Association (Triple-A level was created in 1946), where he hit .241/.333/.287 in 108 plate appearances, with eight runs, three extra-base hits and 12 RBIs. He then split the 1947 season between three teams, including a stint with Columbus. Most of the season was spent four levels lower with Fresno of the Class-C California League, where he tore up the level by putting up a .386 average, with 88 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 51 RBIs, 58 walks and a .956 OPS in 83 games. He had a .551 OPS in 15 games for Columbus, while also seeing brief time with Omaha of the Class-A Western League.
Cole joined Rochester of the Triple-A International League to start the 1948 season, then remained there through the end of the 1950 season. He had a .252 average, 33 runs, 15 extra-base hits, 22 RBIs and a .681 OPS in 91 games in 1948. His average fell to .236 over 141 games in 1949, though he made up for it a bit with 71 walks. He had 64 runs, 16 doubles, seven homers, 43 RBIs and a .676 OPS. That new found plate patience helped him the next season when he batted .278 in 135 games, with 93 runs, 26 extra-base hits, 44 RBIs and 76 walks in 135 games, leading him to a .724 OPS. Cole made the Cardinals out of Spring Training in 1951. He hit .194/.310/.222 over 15 games through the first two months of the season. He got the bulk of his playing time at second base when Hall of Famer Red Schoendienst was out five games with an eye injury from an errant bunt in late April. Schoendienst then missed ten more games a day after he returned due to the flu. The Cardinals traded Cole, along with four other players (including Joe Garagiola), to the Pirates for Cliff Chambers and Wally Westlake on June 15, 1951. Cole reported to Indianapolis of the American Association after the trade, then joined the Pirates in August. He had a .297 average and an .814 OPS in 57 games with Indianapolis. He ended up playing 42 games for the 1951 Pirates, hitting .236/.331/.302 over 128 plate appearances, with nine runs, five extra-base hits, 11 RBIs and 15 walks, while getting most of his time at second base. He spent all of 1952 in the minors with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League (classified as an Open league, but basically the same as Triple-A), where he batted .286 in 178 games, with 75 runs, 22 doubles, eight homers, 73 RBIs, 58 walks and a .719 OPS. He returned to Pittsburgh in 1953, where he saw time in a platoon role at shortstop. Cole hit a career high .272 in 97 games that year, with 29 runs, 13 doubles, 23 RBIs, 38 walks and a .710 OPS.
Cole played a career high 138 games in 1954, seeing plenty of time at both third base and shortstop. He had a .270 average that year, with 40 runs, 22 doubles, five triples, 40 RBIs, 41 walks and a .664 OPS. His average and playing time dropped each of the next two seasons. He batted .226 in 239 at-bats over 77 games in 1955, with 16 runs, eight doubles, three triples, 21 RBIs and a .569 OPS. He received just 110 plate appearances over 72 games in 1956, finishing the year with a .212 average, seven runs, three extra-base hits, nine RBIs and a .543 OPS. The Pirates traded Cole to the Braves right before the 1957 season started for veteran outfielder Jim Pendleton. Cole played his final 15 big league games for the 1957 Braves, hitting .071/.235/.071 in 19 plate appearances, then spent the rest of the season in the minors with Wichita of the American Association. He had a .331 average and an .840 OPS over 52 games with Wichita. He played two more seasons in the minors before retiring. He played for Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in 1958, where he hit .280 in 132 games, with 49 runs, 24 doubles, 30 RBIs and a .664 OPS. Cole finished his career with a .281 average over 144 games for Houston of the American Association in 1959 at 33 years old. He had 57 runs, 27 doubles, four homers, 44 RBIs and a .679 OPS that year. He hit .249 in 426 games with the Pirates, with 106 runs, 49 doubles, two homers, 107 RBIs and a 123:114 BB/SO ratio. He was a coach for some time after his playing career ended, then moved into scouting, including a stint with the Pirates.
Earl Turner, catcher for the 1948 and 1950 Pirates. He was originally signed by the New York Giants in 1942. He would start serving in the military during WWII before his first seasons was done. He was 19 years old in 1942, playing for Jacksonville of the Class-B South Atlantic League, where he hit .259 in 68 games, with seven doubles, two triples and a homer. Turner missed all of the next three seasons (1943-45) while in the Army. He returned to pro ball in 1946, spending the year with Evansville of the Class-B Three-I League, where he hit .290 in 78 games, with 35 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and an .803 OPS. Turner was with Evansville on option from Indianapolis of the Triple-A American Association, a team that had a working agreement with the Pirates. Evansville was actually a Braves affiliate at the time, but the fact that he belonged to Indianapolis, meant that the Pirates had the first shot at adding him to their roster. Turner spent the 1947 season at Albany of the Class-A Eastern League, where he hit .305 in 94 games, with 56 runs, 31 extra-base hits, 46 RBIs and an .813 OPS. His contract was purchased by the Pirates at the end of the 1947 season. The Pirates assigned him on option to Indianapolis in 1948, where he hit .313 in 85 games, with 48 runs, 27 extra-base hits, 56 RBIs and an .810 OPS. The Pirates called him up in late September for the last week of the 1948 season. He came in late as a defensive replacement at catcher during his big league debut on September 25th. He then pinch-hit five days later, getting his only at-bat during his first cup of coffee in the majors.
Turner spent the 1949 season in the minors, although he almost played for the Pirates. The Pirates had two catchers get injured at the same time in the middle of July, so they recalled Turner. As he was on the train to Pittsburgh, the Pirates were able to work out a deal for Braves catcher Phil Masi. When Turner got to Pittsburgh, they put him right back on a train to Indianapolis. He hit .263 that year in 99 games for Indianapolis, with 46 runs, 11 doubles, seven triples, 12 homers and 53 RBIs. His .801 OPS gave him four straight seasons in the minors with an .800+ OPS. Turner made the Pirates roster out of Spring Training in 1950 as their third-string catcher. He got 13 starts behind the plate through the first 82 team games that year, hitting .243/.282/.365 in 74 at-bats, with ten runs, three extra-base hits (all homers) and five RBIs. The Pirates sent him to the minors on July 20, 1950, after they purchased Bob Dillinger from the Philadelphia A’s. Turner would not return to the majors, finishing his playing career two seasons later in the minors with Indianapolis, where he ended up playing five straight seasons (1948-52).
Turner’s 1950 minor league time was split between Indianapolis and New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association. He combined to hit .283/.315/.387 in 36 games. All of 1951-52 were spent with Indianapolis, where he hit .270/.323/.445 over 78 games in 1951, with 30 runs, nine doubles, ten homers and 33 RBIs. The 1952 season saw Turner put up a .177 average and a .441 OPS in 17 games. He was actually a Spring Training holdout that year until he received what was called a substantial raise. He decided to retire in May of 1952 to return to a construction job he worked over the off-season. His time with the Pirates officially ended on November 19, 1950, when he was one of three players released outright by the team. All of his big league extra-base hits were homers (three). All were solo shots, and two came in back-to-back at-bats in different games. On July 16, 1950, he hit a walk-off homer in a 6-5 win against the Boston Braves. The next day he homered in the second inning against the Braves off of Johnny Sain.
Bob Chesnes, pitcher for the 1948-50 Pirates. Pittsburgh paid a heavy price to get Chesnes from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League in September of 1947. It cost them four players and $100,000 in cash. He was nursing a sore arm a month before the trade, then he underwent minor elbow surgery shortly after the deal, but the Pirates were obviously still high on him. It was said at the time that even if he didn’t make it as a pitcher, he would be able to play shortstop and hit well in the majors. Chesnes wasn’t a young phenom when he joined the Pirates. He debuted in pro ball in 1940 at 19 years old. He played shortstop that first year for Newport of the Class-D Northeast Arkansas League, where he had a .216 average, four doubles and a homer in 35 games. His pitching career started while playing for Bakersfield of the Class-C California League in 1941. He went 9-11, 3.42 in 158 innings that season, finishing with a 1.54 WHIP. He played plenty of second base that season, finishing up with a .245 average over 82 games, with 19 doubles, five triples and three homers. He played for three different teams in 1942, seeing time in Class-C ball with San Jose of the California League and Salt Lake City of the Pioneer League. He also saw time all the way up at the Double-A Pacific Coast League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. His stats were both and limited that season, with 11 games played over the three teams. He allowed four runs on five hits and seven walks in three innings over three appearances with San Francisco of the Pacific Coast League. Chesnes had a 5.14 ERA in 28 innings with San Jose that year, as well as a 6.75 ERA in 12 innings with Salt Lake City. He batted .304 that year in 104 games, with 15 doubles, 15 triples and three homers.
Chesnes joined the Coast Guard during WWII, then missed the entire 1943-45 seasons. He returned to Salt Lake City in 1946, where he had an 18-6, 1.52 record and a 1.06 WHIP in 225 innings. He had 107 walks during the 1941 season, followed by 49 walks over 43 innings in 1942. His control was greatly improved when he returned from the war, finishing the 1946 season with an 87:278 BB/SO ratio. He also did well at the plate, batting .349 in 77 games, with 45 runs, 17 extra-base hits, 37 RBIs and an .873 OPS. Chesnes had a 22-8, 2.32 record, 114 strikeouts and a 1.15 WHIP over 233 innings for the Seals in 1947, while putting up a .311 average and a .764 OPS in 50 games. His walk rate went down again, this time a slight drop (3.2 per nine innings vs 3.5 in 1946).He carried that pitching success over to the majors in his first season. He went 14-6 as a rookie for the fourth place 1948 Pirates, with a 3.57 ERA and a 1.39 WHIP in 194.1 innings, while putting up a 90:69 BB/SO ratio. He really struggled in 1949, at one point taking the loss in nine straight starts. He showed glimpses of the pitcher he was during the previous season, but he also had some extremely poor starts. He finished his sophomore season with a 7-13, 5.88 record in 145.1 innings, with a 1.62 WHIP, 82 walks and 49 strikeouts. Chesnes was again pitching poorly in 1950, when the Pirates decided to send him to the minors. He would return to pitch just one more game, making a late season start in which he gave up four runs in one inning before being pulled. He finished the year 3-3, 5.54, with a 1.56 WHIP in 39 innings over seven starts and two relief appearances. The Pirates sent him to New Orleans of the Double-A Southern Association in 1950, where he went 2-2, 4.50 in 46 innings over eight games.
Chesnes played in the minors briefly during the 1951 season with Hollywood of the Pacific Coast League, getting into ten games as a pitcher, while batting .286 in limited plate time. He was still in the Pirates’ plans late in 1951, but he never played pro ball again. He was used 26 times as a pinch-hitter during his brief Major League career. He had a .256 average and a .669 OPS. He voluntarily retired after the 1951 season due to multiple arm injuries, though he hoped to continue playing as a position player in the minors, which the Pirates wouldn’t allow him to do. He then wanted to become an umpire in the minor leagues in 1952, but Pirates general manager Branch Rickey refused to release him, so he had to wait until 1953 to take up that position. In his three big league seasons, Chesnes went 24-22, 4.66 in 378.2 innings over 55 starts and six relief appearances with a 1.49 WHIP and a 189:130 BB/SO ratio. He threw 25 complete games, including one career shutout, which came at the Polo Grounds against the New York Giants on July 16, 1949.
Luke Boone, shortstop for the 1918 Pirates. He was a native of Pittsburgh, Pa., who had a long career in pro ball. Boone was born in Pittsburgh in 1890, passed away there in 1982 and can still be found in Pittsburgh, resting peacefully in Jefferson Memorial Park. He played 20 seasons in the minors, managed for five years (four as a player/manager), and spent another five seasons in the majors. He got into 288 games around the infield (SS/2B/3B) for the 1913-16 New York Yankees, hitting .210 during that time, with 95 runs scored. He was in the majors by age 23, just one year after his pro career began at the lowest level of the minors, playing for Steubenville of the Class-D Ohio-Pennsylvania League (no stats available). Boone spent the 1913 season with Dallas of the Class-B Texas League, where he hit .223 in 147 games, with 19 doubles, five triples and no homers. Despite the poor offense and being in a league that was considered to be three levels below the majors, Boone made his big league debut that September. He hit .333 in six games for the Yankees, with three runs, an RBI and three walks. He started 90 games at second base in 1914, while also seeing some brief time at third base. He batted .222 that year, with 34 runs, ten extra-base hits (no homers), 21 RBIs and 31 walks, leading to a .539 OPS. In addition to the low offense, he had a rough time on the bases, getting thrown out 18 times in 28 stolen base attempts. He stayed in the lineup because he was above average defensively. He led all American League second basemen in range factor that year.
Boone was even better defensively in 1915, posting a 1.9 dWAR, which was third best for all position players in the American League. His hitting wasn’t much better than the previous year, finishing with a .204 average, 44 runs, 19 extra-base hits, 43 RBIs, 41 walks and an identical .285 OBP from the previous year. He showed a little more power, hitting his first five career homers, but his slugging percentage still came in at a .276 mark. He also got thrown out stealing more times than he was successful for the second straight season. Boone was mostly a bench player in 1916, with just over half of his playing time coming in July. He was replacing an injured Frank “Home Run” Baker, the Hall of Fame third baseman, who got injured chasing a foul ball. Boone hit .186 in 46 games that year, posting a .494 OPS. He spent a small part of that season with Richmond of the Double-A International League, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. Boone spent the 1917 season with Toledo of the Double-A American Association, where he hit .235 in 111 games, with six doubles and six triples. He began the 1918 season back at Toledo, before joining the Pirates on July 26th. Toledo was done for the season, ending early due to the ongoing war, so Boone was considered to be a free agent. He was actually said to be looking for offers from an independent team, and was negotiating with the team from Oil City, Pa., but the Pirates came calling just days after he arrived back home. He hit .259 in 76 games for Toledo that year, finishing with 27 runs, ten extra-base hits, nine steals and a .638 OPS.
Boone got his first taste of action eight days after he joined the 1918 Pirates. He started off hitting strong, with a .350 batting average through his first twelve games. He then finished the season with a 4-for-47 streak, which dropped his average to .198, and ended his Major League career. He was thrown in as the starting shortstop on August 11th, then held the job until September 2nd, which was the final day of the season that year due to the war. He finished his Pirates time with seven runs, three doubles, three RBIs and a .493 OPS in 27 games. Days after the 1918 season ended, he was one of eight Major League players (mostly Pirates) to get a job at a local plant, which also had a baseball team that they all played for during that September. He was returned to Toledo after the season, where he was a contract holdout in 1919, before being sold to St Paul of the American Association. He played there for the next seven seasons. He was still active in the minors 17 years after leaving the Pirates without getting another big league shot. Boone’s hitting really picked up as the deadball era ended in 1920, so it’s a bit surprising that he couldn’t get another shot. He batted .260 for St Paul in 1919, with 19 extra-base hits in 115 games. When baseball outlawed some pitches (spitball, emory ball, etc) and put new baseballs in play more often, he hit .297 in 1920, with 43 extra-base hits (33 doubles). Boone followed that up with .288 average and 34 extra-base hits over 129 games in 1921. He then had a .287 average, 36 doubles, six triples and eight homers over 167 games in 1922. His best year was 1923, when he hit .308 in 162 games, with 42 doubles, four triples and ten homers, which was the only time he reached double digits in homers in a season.
Boone’s stats began to drop off in 1924 at 34 years old, seeing his average and slugging each take a hit. He hit .259 that year in 134 games, with 31 doubles among his 37 extra-base hits. He had a .265 average over 149 games in 1925, with 34 doubles, eight triples and five homers. He split the 1926 season between Kansas City and Louisville of the American Association. He combined to hit .270 in 108 games, with 18 doubles and four triples. He spent 1927 with Louisville, where he had a .271 average and eight extra-base hits in 55 games. He played 87 games for Columbus of the American Association in 1928, along with 28 games for Des Moines of the Class-A Western League. He hit .263 between both stops, with 18 doubles, four triples and a homer. Boone bounced back a bit in 1929 with Columbus, putting up a .319 average at 39 years old, with 27 extra-base hits in 107 games. He played 107 games for Columbus in 1930 as well, finishing with a .295 average and 25 extra-base hits. He played semi-pro ball near his home during the 1931-32 seasons. His last three years as a player (1933-35) were spent with Crookston of the Class-D Northern League, where he also served as the manager. He played his final game at 45 years old. He had a .387 average and 16 extra-base hits (14 doubles) over 48 games in 1933. He had a .287 average and 21 extra-base hits in 77 games during the 1934 season. He finished with a .241 average over 11 games in 1935. Boone collected nearly 2,200 hits during his pro career, not including the unknown total from his first season. In his big league career, he hit .209 in 315 games, with 102 runs, 27 doubles, six homers, 76 RBIs and a .543 OPS. That’s not as bad as it sounds due to his entire big league career coming during the deadball era, but he still finished with -0.5 WAR on offense. His defensive stats pushed him to a 1.3 career WAR. His actual first name was Lute, which is how he was known while in Pittsburgh.
Ed Karger, pitcher for the 1906 Pirates. He pitched one year in the minors before signing with the Pirates for the 1906 season. Karger, who was born in Texas, went 24-8 in 46 games during the 1905 season for Houston of the Class-C South Texas League. He joined pro ball at 21 years old, after being discovered pitching amateur ball. In October of 1905, it was announced that Karger and his teammate Bill Sorrells (a 19-game winner) were drafted by the Pirates, and they would get a chance with the team in Spring Training. Karger had an interesting start to his time with the Pirates. His arrival in Spring Training was delayed so he could pitch an exhibition game for Houston against the St Louis Cardinals. The reason he stayed was because they were paying him $25 to pitch that day. His Spring Training performance should have kept him with the Pirates much longer than it did. He made three starts and threw a total of 16 shutout innings. If that wasn’t good enough, then maybe his regular season performance should have helped too. In two starts and four relief appearances for Pittsburgh in 1906, he had a 1.93 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 28 innings. His second start happened eleven games into the season, and it helped lead to his early departure. Back when pitchers usually completed what they started, he was pulled after just five innings by Fred Clarke, despite giving up only three runs on three hits and three walks. The newspapers said he was still pitching well at the time that he was taken out. The crowd was relentless in their displeasure for Clarke’s move, and they let him know about it every chance they got. The boos got worse as the Pirates new pitcher (Mike Lynch) started getting hit hard. The team lost by six runs that day. Karger was moved to a relief role after that game.
The Pirates traded Karger to the Cardinals on June 3, 1906, in exchange for pitcher Chappie MacFarland, who won just one Major League game after the trade. It was said at the time that the Pirates wanted to send Karger to the minors for more experience and St Louis blocked the deal with a waiver claim. Instead of keeping him, the Pirates traded him for a veteran pitcher, after first backing down from a cash only offer. Manager Fred Clarke also noted that the Pirates didn’t need three lefty pitchers at the time, and Karger was the one selected to go. They kept Homer Hillebrand instead, who pitched 30 big league innings after Karger left. Karger went on to win another 46 games after the trade, including a very special game on August 11, 1907. He pitched a perfect game that day in the second game of a doubleheader, which was agreed upon to be seven innings before the game started. While it’s not recognized as a perfect game now because it didn’t go nine innings, he still retired all 21 batters he faced that day. Even though he was 19 games under .500 for his career, he still had a lifetime 2.79 ERA. Karger was hurt by pitching for bad teams, which showed in the rest of his 1906 season after the trade. He went 5-16, 2.72 in 191.2 innings with the Cardinals in 1906, finishing with a 1.23 WHIP and 73 strikeouts. St Louis finished 52-98 that season. He went 15-19 in 1907, despite a 2.04 ERA in 314 innings. That record came about because the Cardinals went 52-101 that season. Just to get to that record, he helped himself out by recording six shutouts. He finished the year with a 1.03 WHIP and a career high 137 strikeouts.
Karger’s ERA went up to 3.06 in 1908, which was above average for the deadball era. He had a 4-9 record and threw 141.1 innings that season, finishing with a 1.40 WHIP and a 50:34 BB/SO ratio. He split the 1909 season between the Cincinnati Reds and Boston Red Sox, seeing relief work mixed in with his starts in each place. He went 6-5, 3.61 in 102.1 innings, with a 1.46 WHIP and a 52:25 BB/SO ratio. The Reds cut ties with him in early June, sending him to St Paul of the Class-A American Association, which was the highest level of the minors at the time. He had a 7-3 record for St Paul before joining the Red Sox on July 25th. He pitched better during his final two seasons in the majors, which were both spent with Boston. Karger went 11-7, 3.19 in 183.1 innings in 1910, while completing 16 of his 25 starts. He had 81 strikeouts and a 1.17 WHIP. He then had a 5-8, 3.37 record during the 1911 season, with 57 strikeouts and a 1.34 WHIP in 131 innings. He made 18 starts and seven relief appearances that year. Karger went to the minors in 1912, where he pitched on and off through age 38 in 1921. He rejoined St Paul in 1912 (then a Double-A level), where he was a workhorse for three seasons, though his record didn’t amount to much during that time. He went 36-62, while averaging nearly 270 innings per year. He went 11-22 over 275.2 innings in 1912, with 125 strikeouts and a 1.38 WHIP. His ERA isn’t available, but we know that he allowed 5.13 runs per nine innings. Karger went 18-17 in 1913, with 104 strikeouts, a 1.27 WHIP and 4.28 runs per nine innings over 292 innings. He followed that up with a 7-23, 4.67 record in 1914, with 85 strikeouts and a 1.49 WHIP in 235.1 innings. His final season with St Paul saw him go 4-10, 3.76 in 122 innings, with a 1.46 WHIP and 43 strikeouts.
Karger’s work was somewhat limited over his other three seasons of pro ball, which included 1917 with Houston of the Class-B Texas League, and 1920-21 with Aberdeen, a Class-D club that played in two different leagues. He’s credited with one game and no outs for Houston. He went 7-3 over 85 innings for Aberdeen in the South Dakota League in 1920. He had an 8-7 record over 169 innings during the 1921 season in the Dakota League. He actually played more first base than he did pitching with Aberdeen. He had a .297 average over 41 games in 1920, followed by a .313 average and 17 extra-base hits over 56 games during his final season. He finished up his big league career with a 48-67, 2.79 record in 1,091.1 innings over 123 starts and 42 relief appearances. He threw 81 complete games and he had nine shutouts. His career record would have been much better had he stayed with the Pirates, who were one of the top teams yearly during the 1906-11 seasons. In fact, Karger went 1-7 against the Pirates. He also never beat the Chicago Cubs, who went to the 1906-08 World Series. We wrote more about Karger here in a One Who Got Away article.