Saturday, May 7, 2011

Lew Burdett, Masterful Pitcher and Cousin

It's always a nice surprise to discover a new cousin, and being a baseball fan, this one was an added bonus. I've included Lew's baseball card and portions of his obituary from the New York Times

Lew Burdette, Masterful Pitcher, Dies at 80

Published: February 7, 2007
Lew Burdette, the Milwaukee Braves’ right-hander who beat the Yankees three times in the 1957 World Series, twice on shutouts, in one of the most dominant pitching performances in baseball’s postseason history, died yesterday in Winter Garden, Fla. He was 80.

His death was announced by the Atlanta Braves, who said he had battled lung cancer.

Armed with a variety of breaking balls, and bolstered by a reputation for throwing a spitter, Burdette was twice a 20-game winner and twice led the National League in shutouts. He had a career record of 203-144 in 18 seasons and teamed up with the Hall of Famer Warren Spahn and Bob Buhl to pitch the Braves to a pair of pennants.

But all that was hardly envisioned by the Yankees when, in August 1951, they sent him along with $50,000 to the Braves, then in Boston, for pitcher Johnny Sain.

Additional copyrighted story at:

Additional information on Lew Burdett from Wikipedia
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. 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. An outstanding control pitcher, his career average of 1.84 walks per nine innings pitched places him behind only Robin Roberts (1.73), Carl Hubbell (1.82) and Juan Marichal among pitchers with at least 3000 innings since 1920.

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 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. 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). In the 1958 Series, however, the Yankees defeated Burdette twice in three starts. 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.

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. 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!" The next year, facing the minimum 27 batters, Burdette pitched a 1–0 no-hitter against the Philadelphia Phillies on August 18, 1960. Tony Gonz├ílez, 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. Following up his no-hitter, five days later he pitched his third shutout in a row.

In 1963 Burdette was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals (1963–1964), and was later sent to the Chicago Cubs (1964–1965) and Phillies (1965). Signing with the California Angels, he pitched exclusively in relief for the team in 1966 and 1967 before retiring.

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. In two All-Star games, he allowed only one run in seven innings pitched,and in 1956 he topped National League pitchers with a 2.70 earned run average.He was twice a twenty game winner and twice led the National League in shutouts. He also led the National League in wins, earned run average, innings and complete games once each. His totals of wins, games and innings with the Braves ranked behind only Spahn and Kid Nichols in franchise history. As a hitter, he compiled a .183 batting average with 75 RBI and 12 home runs; his first two home runs came in the same 1957 game, and he later had two more two-homer games.

Burdette was often rumored as having thrown spitballs,leading to New York Times sportswriter Red Smith writing that "There should be 3 pitching statistics for Burdette: Wins, Losses, and Relative Humidity."

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. Burdette also cut a record in the 1950s entitled "Three Strikes and Then You're Out".

Burdette was inducted into the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.He died of lung cancer at age 80 at his home in Winter Garden, Florida.