Lew Burdette

Last updated
Lew Burdette
Lew Burdette 1954.png
Burdette in 1954.
Pitcher
Born:(1926-11-22)November 22, 1926
Nitro, West Virginia
Died: February 6, 2007(2007-02-06) (aged 80)
Winter Garden, Florida
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
September 26, 1950, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
July 16, 1967, for the California Angels
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 203–144
Earned run average 3.66
Strikeouts 1,074
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Selva Lewis Burdette, Jr. (November 22, 1926 – February 6, 2007) was an American right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played primarily for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves. [1] The team's top right-hander during its years in Milwaukee, he was the Most Valuable Player of the 1957 World Series, leading the franchise to its first championship in 43 years, and the only title in Milwaukee history. [2] An outstanding control pitcher, his career average of 1.84 walks per nine innings pitched places him behind only Robin Roberts (1.73), Greg Maddux (1.80), Carl Hubbell, (1.82) and Juan Marichal (1.82) among pitchers with at least 3,000 innings since 1920.

Contents

Major League career

Born in Nitro, West Virginia, Burdette was signed by the New York Yankees in 1947, and after making two relief appearances for the team in September 1950, he was traded to the Braves in August 1951 for four-time 20-game winner Johnny Sain. [3] Along with left-hander Warren Spahn and right-hander Bob Buhl, he gave the Braves one of the best starting rotations in the majors during the 1950s, winning 15 or more games eight times between 1953 and 1961. Burdette led National League pitchers in earned run average in 1956. [4] When Milwaukee won the 1957 World Series against the Yankees, Burdette became the first pitcher in 37 years to win three complete games in a series, and the first since Christy Mathewson in 1905 to pitch two shutouts (Games 5 and 7). [5] [6] In the 1958 Series, however, the Yankees defeated Burdette twice in three starts. The final setback came in Game 7, which he started on only two days' rest, a decision for which manager Fred Haney was widely criticized. [7] In addition to winning 20 games in 1958 and tying Spahn for the National League lead with 21 victories in 1959, Burdette won 19 in 1956 and 1960, 18 in 1961, and 17 in 1957. [1] [8]

Burdette was the winning pitcher on May 26, 1959 when the Pittsburgh Pirates' Harvey Haddix pitched a perfect game against the Braves for 12 innings, only to lose in the 13th. [9] Burdette threw a 1–0 shutout, scattering 12 hits. In the ensuing offseason, he joked, "I'm the greatest pitcher that ever lived. The greatest game that was ever pitched in baseball wasn't good enough to beat me, so I've got to be the greatest!"

On August 18 of the following year, facing the minimum 27 batters, Burdette no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 at Milwaukee County Stadium. [10] Tony González, the only opposing batter to reach base after being hit by a pitch in the fifth inning, was retired on a double play. Burdette helped himself by scoring the only run of the game; after doubling to lead off the eighth inning, he scored on Bill Bruton's double one batter later. Following up his no-hitter, five days later he pitched his third shutout in a row. [11]

In 1963 Burdette was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals (1963–64), and was later sent to the Chicago Cubs (196465) and Phillies (1965). [3] Signing with the California Angels, he pitched exclusively in relief for the team in 1966 and 1967 before retiring.

Career statistics

In an 18-year career, Burdette posted a 203–144 record with 1074 strikeouts and a 3.66 ERA in 3067.1 innings, compiling 158 complete games and 33 shutouts. [1] In two All-Star games, he allowed only one run in seven innings pitched, [12] [13] and in 1956 he topped National League pitchers with a 2.70 earned run average. [1] He was twice a 20-game winner and twice led the National League in shutouts. [1] He also led the National League in wins, earned run average, innings and complete games once each. [1] His totals of wins, games and innings with the Braves ranked behind only Spahn and Kid Nichols in franchise history. He won his only NL Player of the Month award in August 1958 (7-1, 1.89 ERA, 38 SO); teammate pitcher Joey Jay had won the award the month previous. As a hitter, he compiled a .183 batting average (185-for-1011) with 75  RBI and 12 home runs; [1] his first two home runs came in the same 1957 game, and he later had two more two-homer games. [14] [15] He also hit a home run in Game 2 of the 1958 World Series, being the first pitcher to do so since Bucky Walters in 1940.

Pitching style

Burdette was a very fidgety pitcher, constantly scratching himself and fussing with his uniform before pitches. Former manager Fred Haney once said, "Burdette would make coffee nervous." [5] Frequently repeated motions such as bringing his fingers to his lips and wiping sweat from his forehead lead to rumors of throwing spitballs. [6] [16] After the second game of the 1957 season, Birdie Tebbetts, manager of the Cincinnati Reds, called Burdette a "cheating spitballer," prompting Redlegs' GM Gabe Paul to lodge an official protest with the National League. [17] NL President Warren Giles responded with a statement clarifying that it was okay for a pitcher to moisten his hands as long as he did not transfer the moisture to the baseball and said, "Until someone — the umpires or someone — presents evidence that Burdette is using the spitter, I'll do nothing about it." [17] [18] Burdette himself said, "It's the best pitch I've got — and I don't throw it." [17] The rumors persisted, though: Don Hoak said, "Only once did I ever see water fly off a spitball, and the man who threw me that pitch was Burdette." [18] The Sporting News wrote in 1967, "Perhaps no pitcher has engendered more controversy about the spitter than Lou Burdette." [18] New York Times sportswriter Red Smith wrote, "There should be 3 pitching statistics for Burdette: Wins, Losses, and Relative Humidity." Burdette himself referenced this reputation, saying he retired because "they were starting to hit the dry side of the ball." [19]

Personal life

Burdette was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame. [20] He died of lung cancer at age 80 in Winter Garden, Florida. [5]

In 1958, a reference to Burdette appeared in an episode of Leave It To Beaver . The text "Lew Burdette just hit a home run and Milwaukee leads seven to one in the series." appears briefly in a few frames showing a letter from the principal to Beaver's parents. [21] Burdette also cut a record in the 1950s entitled "Three Strikes and Then You're Out".

Burdette's grandson, Nolan Fontana, is a professional baseball player. [22]

Highlights

See also

Related Research Articles

Warren Spahn American baseball player

Warren Edward Spahn was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a left-handed pitcher in 1942 and then from 1946 until 1965, most notably for the Boston Braves, who became the Milwaukee Braves after the team moved west before the 1953 season. His baseball career was interrupted by his military service in the United States Army during the Second World War.

Harvey Haddix American baseball player

Harvey Haddix, Jr. was an American professional baseball left-handed pitcher and pitching coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals (1952–1956), Philadelphia Phillies (1956–57), Cincinnati Reds (1958), Pittsburgh Pirates (1959–1963), and Baltimore Orioles (1964–65).

Johnny Antonelli American baseball player

John August Antonelli was an American professional baseball player, a left-handed starting pitcher who played for the Boston and Milwaukee Braves, New York and San Francisco Giants, and Cleveland Indians between 1948 and 1961. Noted at the outset of his pro career as the recipient of the biggest bonus in baseball history when he signed with the Braves for $52,000 in 1948, he later became a six-time National League All-Star, a two-time 20-game-winner, and an important member of the 1954 world champion Giants' pitching staff. He batted left-handed, stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg).

The 1958 World Series was a rematch of the 1957 World Series. The New York Yankees defeated the defending champion Milwaukee Braves in seven games for their 18th title, and their seventh in 10 years. With that victory, the Yankees became only the second team in Major League Baseball history to come back from a 3–1 deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series; the first was the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. These teams would meet again in the fall classic 38 years later—by that time, the Braves had moved to Atlanta. As of 2019, this is the most recent World Series featuring the two previous Series winning teams.

The 1957 World Series featured the defending champion New York Yankees of the American League playing against the Milwaukee Braves of the National League. After finishing just one game behind the N.L. Champion Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, the Braves came back in 1957 to win their first pennant since moving from Boston in 1953. The Braves won the Series in seven games, behind Lew Burdette's three complete game victories. The Braves would be the only team besides the Yankees, Dodgers, or Giants to win a World Series title in the 1950s.

Bob Buhl American baseball player

Robert Ray Buhl was an American right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played with the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies.

Juan Pizarro (baseball) Puerto Rican baseball player

Juan Pizarro a.k.a. "Terín" is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) pitcher. He played for 18 seasons on 9 teams, from 1957 through 1974. In 1964, he won 19 games (19–9) and pitched 4 shutouts for the Chicago White Sox. He also was an All-Star player in 1963 and 1964.

Joey Jay American baseball player

Joseph Richard Jay is an American former professional baseball starting pitcher, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1953 through 1966, Jay played for the Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati Reds (1961–1966) and Atlanta Braves (1966). He was a switch-hitter and threw right-handed.

Fred Haney American baseball player, manager, and executive

Fred Girard Haney was an American third baseman, manager, coach and executive in Major League Baseball (MLB). As a manager, he won two pennants and a world championship with the Milwaukee Braves. He later served as the first general manager of the expansion Los Angeles Angels in the American League. For years, Haney was one of the most popular baseball figures in Los Angeles. In 1974 he was presented with the King of Baseball award given by Minor League Baseball.

Sal Maglie American baseball player

Salvatore Anthony Maglie was an American Major League Baseball pitcher and later, a scout and a pitching coach. He played from 1945 to 1958 for the New York Giants, Cleveland Indians, Brooklyn Dodgers, New York Yankees, and St. Louis Cardinals. Maglie was known as "Sal the Barber", because he gave close shaves—that is, pitched inside to hitters. A gentle personality off the field went unnoticed during games, his foreboding physical appearance contributing to his menacing presence on a pitcher's mound. He was the last of 14 players to play for the Giants, Dodgers and Yankees at a time when all three teams were in New York City. During a 10-year major league baseball career, Maglie compiled 119 wins, 862 strikeouts, and a 3.15 earned run average.

Dick Donovan American baseball player

Richard Edward Donovan was an American Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Boston Braves (1950–1952), Detroit Tigers (1954), Chicago White Sox (1955–1960), Washington Senators (1961) and Cleveland Indians (1962–1965). He batted left-handed and threw right-handed, stood 6 feet 3 inches (1.91 m) tall and weighed 190 pounds (86 kg).

Bob Rush (baseball) American baseball player

Robert Ransom Rush was an American professional baseball pitcher who appeared in 417 games in Major League Baseball from 1948 to 1960 for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves and Chicago White Sox. He threw and batted right-handed, stood 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and weighed 205 pounds (93 kg). Rush was a National League All-Star selection in 1950 and 1952. Although he was a starting pitcher for the Cubs for ten seasons, and worked in 339 total games for them, he did not reach the postseason until he was a Milwaukee Brave, when he appeared in the 1958 World Series.

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves season was the fifth in Milwaukee and the 87th overall season of the franchise. It was the year that the team won its first and only World Series championship while based in Milwaukee. The Braves won 95 games and lost 59 to win the National League pennant by eight games over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals.

Bob Trowbridge American baseball player

Robert Trowbridge was an American professional baseball player, a pitcher who appeared in all or parts of five seasons (1956–60) for the Milwaukee Braves and Kansas City Athletics. A right-hander, he was listed as 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and 180 pounds (82 kg). He was a member of the 1957 World Series champion Braves.

The 1958 Milwaukee Braves season was the sixth in Milwaukee and the 88th overall season of the franchise. The Braves finished first in the National League with a 92–62 record and returned to the World Series for the second consecutive year, losing to the New York Yankees in seven games. The Braves set a Major League record which still stands for the fewest players caught stealing in a season, with 8.

The 1956 Milwaukee Braves season was the fourth in Milwaukee and the 86th overall season of the franchise. The Braves finished in second place in the National League, just one game behind the Brooklyn Dodgers in the league standings, and one game ahead of the Cincinnati Reds. All three teams posted wins on the final day of the season; the Braves had entered the final three games with a game advantage, but dropped the first two at St. Louis while the Dodgers swept the Pirates.

The 1959 Milwaukee Braves season was the seventh season for the franchise in Milwaukee and its 89th season overall. The season's home attendance was 1,749,112, second in the majors and the eight-team National League, but the lowest to date in Milwaukee and the last over 1.5 million.

The 1959 National League tie-breaker series was a best-of-three playoff series at the conclusion of Major League Baseball's (MLB) 1959 regular season to decide the winner of the National League (NL) pennant. The playoff series was necessary after Los Angeles Dodgers and the Milwaukee Braves finished the season with identical win–loss records of 86–68 (.558) on Sunday, September 27, three games ahead of the San Francisco Giants. It was the first tie-breaker in the majors in eight years, also in the National League.

Harvey Haddixs near-perfect game

On May 26, 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched a perfect game for 12 innings against the Milwaukee Braves, but lost the no-hitter and the game in the 13th inning. The game was played at Milwaukee County Stadium.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Lew Burdette Stats - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  2. "1957 World Series - Milwaukee Braves over New York Yankees (4-3) - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  3. 1 2 Inc., Baseball Almanac. "Lew Burdette Trades and Transactions by Baseball Almanac". www.baseball-almanac.com.
  4. "1956 National League Pitching Leaders - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  5. 1 2 3 Goldstein, Richard (February 7, 2007). "Lew Burdette, Masterful Pitcher, Dies at 80". New York Times . Archived from the original on June 5, 2011.
  6. 1 2 Lew Burdette: His Moment of Glory Came in '57 Series, by Lou Chapman, Baseball Digest, October 1991, Vol. 50, No. 10, ISSN   0005-609X
  7. "1958 World Series - New York Yankees over Milwaukee Braves (4-3) - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  8. "1959 National League Pitching Leaders - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  9. "Pittsburgh Pirates at Milwaukee Braves Box Score, May 26, 1959 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  10. "Philadelphia Phillies at Milwaukee Braves Box Score, August 18, 1960 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  11. "Milwaukee Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Box Score, August 23, 1960 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  12. "1957 All-Star Game Box Score, July 9 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  13. "1959 All-Star Game box score at Baseball Reference".
  14. "Milwaukee Braves at Cincinnati Redlegs Box Score, August 13, 1957 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  15. "Milwaukee Braves at Los Angeles Dodgers Box Score, July 10, 1958 - Baseball-Reference.com". Baseball-Reference.com.
  16. The Case of the Suspected Spitter, LIFE Magazine, September 10, 1956, Vol. 41, No. 11, ISSN   0024-3019
  17. 1 2 3 Wilks, Ed (April 19, 1957). "Birdie Says Burdette Is 'Cheating Spitballer'; Warren Giles Demands Proof Before Any Action". Times Daily. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  18. 1 2 3 "The Infamous Spitter". Sports Illustrated. July 31, 1967. Retrieved January 22, 2020.
  19. Baehler, James R. (18 November 2014). Unbreakable: The 25 Most Unapproachable Records in Baseball.
  20. Lew Burdette at the Florida Sports Hall of Fame Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine
  21. "All of this is nonsense". Letters of Note. Retrieved 2009-10-13.
  22. Fowler, Jeremy (May 20, 2010). "Gators star Nolan Fontana paying tribute to his late grandfather, former pitcher Lew Burdette". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved October 31, 2013.

Awards
Preceded by
Joey Jay
Major League Player of the Month
August 1958
Succeeded by
Willie Mays
Achievements
Preceded by
Don Cardwell
No-hitter pitcher
August 18, 1960
Succeeded by
Warren Spahn
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Harry Dorish
Atlanta Braves pitching coach
1972–1973
Succeeded by
Herm Starrette