Monday, January 26, 2015

Madison's 2014 Series was Fantastic but I Remember Lew Burdette in 1957

Let me clarify. I wasn't born yet but I read a heckuva lot about the game of baseball and this story piqued my interest as much as any other I have been fortunate enough to come across over the years.

In the 1957 World Series a pitcher by the name of Lew Burdette dominated the New York Yankees. For one year somebody other than the Bronx Bombers got to celebrate a World Series crown. (The Bombers would defeat the Braves the following year in the Series)

Burdette was originally signed by the New York Yankees but due to the depth of the Yankees roster he was dealt to the Boston Braves in 1951, along with $50,000 for pitcher Johnny Sain (the other guy with Warren Spahn who you prayed for rain when facing the tough Brave lefties).

Fast-forward to the 1957 and Burdette gets his shot at showing just how bad a mistake the Pinstripes made in dealing the Nitro, West Virginian.

In three games, he shutout the Yankees twice and one other time the Braves won 4-2, all complete games.

The first shutout was against World Series ace Whitey Ford, in which Burdette won 1-0 and in Game 7, subbing for Warren Spahn who had the flu, on 2 days' rest he shutout the Yankees 5-0. Naturally, he was named the Series Most Valuable Player.

Other things of note about Lew Burdette. He was the opposing pitcher in the game on May 26, 1959, when Harvey Haddix pitched a 12 inning perfect game. And although he yielded 12 hits he walked none and was able to pitch into the 13th inning when Joe Adcock hit a homer.

Burdette was forever fidgeting on the mound, wiping his brow, fussing with his cap and jersey and going to his lips, prompting the Braves' manager, Fred Haney, to remark, "Burdette would make coffee nervous." Those machinations, combined with the effectiveness of his breaking balls, brought accusations that he threw a spitter.

While denying that he wet the ball, Burdette said the suspicions helped him by distracting batters.

On a personal note, I always felt like the movie Rio Bravo used Burdette's name for the movie. John Wayne's character (John T. Chance) held Claude Akins (Joe Burdette), a worthless drunken thug, for murdering an unarmed man. Joe's brother Nathan owned a big chunk of the county. Wayne's only help was from Dean Martin (Dude/Borachon) his former deputy who spent the past two years stumbling around in a drunken stupor over a woman that left him.

In a list of characters: 15- bar fly's (all uncredited)
1- bar cowboy watching fistfight (uncredited)
3- henchman
Feathers- Angie Dickinson
Colorado Ryan- Ricky Nelson
Nathan Burdette- John Russell
Stumpy- Walter Brennan

"A small-town sheriff in the American West enlists the help of a cripple, a drunk, and a young gunfighter in his efforts to hold in jail the brother of the local bad guy."

Only in Hollywood. Unforgettable plot but the names, I believe, were borrowed sometimes from heroic ballplayers.

thanks to for my extensive research on this blurb.

Kevin J. Marquez