Jack Kramer – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
Warren Easton High School/Major League Baseball
New Orleans native and Warren Easton High School graduate John “Jack” Kramer had one of the most successful baseball careers of the early New Orleanians who reached the Major Leagues. He played for four Major League teams between 1939 and 1951, with a three-year hiatus as he served in the Navy during World War II, recording 95 career victories with a 4.24 earned-run average and 613 strikeouts in 1,637.1 innings. The 6-2 right-hander made the American League All-Star team three times.
Kramer made his professional debut at the age of 18 with the Lafayette (La.) White Sox in the Class D League. In 1938, he came into his own on the mound, posting a 20-11 mark with a 2.49 ERA with the San Antonio Missions of the Class A Texas League. The following year, he was brought up to the St. Louis Browns in the Major Leagues.
From 1939-41, he struggled to get on track in the big leagues and in 1942, he worked in a New Orleans shipyard to support the war effort. After enlisting in the Navy for 1943, he was given an honorable discharge due to illness.
The time away from full-time baseball agreed with Kramer as when he returned full-time to the Browns in 1944, he was a different pitcher, registering a 17-13 record with a 2.49 EAR as he was a key to the St. Louis Browns making the World Series. He pitched 11 innings in the 1944 World Series, including a complete-game, 10-strikeout victory in game three against the St. Louis Cardinals – the last postseason win in history for the Browns. He added two more innings of scoreless ball in game six.
From 1945 to 1947, Kramer averaged 11 wins per season. In the 1946 All-Star Game, he tossed three no-hit, shutout innings to earn a save.
The Browns traded Kramer to the Boston Red Sox in 1948 and he turned in one of his best seasons, posting an 18-5 record, including a 12-game winning streak and five victories over the New York Yankees. His .783 winning percentage led the American League.
Known as a temperamental player, Kramer was sold to the New York Giants after a poor 1949 season. He saw limited action primarily out of the bullpen with the Giants in 1950 and after just four appearances in 1951, he was released. The Yankees signed Kramer and he would toss 40 innings in 19 appearances for them with limited effectiveness.
Born January 5, 1918 in New Orleans, Kramer died in Metairie, La., on May 18, 1995 at age 77.