Tuesday, September 18, 2012

He's No Angel (Nor Cardinal, Nor Cub)

"No I'm no angel...come on and let me show you my tattoo." ~ I'm No Angel by Greg Allman

Or, perhaps a spitball.

1966 Topps #299

  Rare is the player who spends the entirety of his career in one organization (unless it's a rather short one, that is). Even those who have played for a few different teams are often associated with one particular team. And for me, Burdette is one such player.

1967 Topps #265

   After signing with the Yankees in 1947, Lew had a brief stint with the big club in 1950-appearing in two games for the Bombers. Lew was traded to Boston for Johnny Sain in August of '51, and would spend the next thirteen seasons pitching for the Braves. Warren Spahn's partner in crime would go on to win the World Series MVP in '57, throw a thirteen-inning one-hit shutout against Pittsburgh in 1959 (the game in which Harvey Haddix had a perfect game through 12 innings-only to lose it, and the game, in the thirteenth), and then pitch a no-hitter against Philadelphia in 1960.

   Lew also spent time with St. Louis, Chicago (NL), and Philadelphia before finishing his career with the Angels in 1967 at the age of forty. 

 1964 Topps #523

1965 Topps #64

  Burdette's success came through pitch location, movement, and the ability to use different arm slots. Oh, and psychology.

  In Bushville Wins! The Saga of the 1957 Milwaukee Braves, author John Klima describes Burdette as a pitcher who played head games with his opponents. Long rumored to throw a spitball, he would often plant a seed of doubt into his opponents' minds- doing it through the media. "They talk as if all you had to do to throw a spitball was to crank up and throw one. Don't they know it's the hardest pitch to control? It takes lots of practice and you just don't throw one when you figure it might get the hitter out." 

  He might have donned the uniform of five other teams, but in my mind, Lew Burdette will always be a Brave.

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