Burdette dies, led Milwaukee Braves to only title
WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- Lew Burdette, MVP of the 1957 World Series when he pitched the Milwaukee Braves to their only championship, died Tuesday. He was 80.
Burdette had been ill for an extended period with lung cancer. Family members were with him when he died at home, they told the Atlanta Braves.
A two-time All-Star and a member of the Braves' Hall of Fame, Burdette was 203-144 with a 3.66 ERA from 1950-67. He also pitched a no-hitter.
Burdette's greatest success came in the 1957 Series when he went 3-0 with an 0.67 ERA while pitching three complete games against the New York Yankees. He capped his performance with a seven-hit shutout in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, finishing off a run of 24 straight scoreless innings.
"I have a boatload of memories about Lew Burdette," commissioner Bud Selig told The Associated Press by telephone from Milwaukee, where he grew up rooting for the Braves. "I think what I remember most was that he was a tremendous competitor. He pitched in pain, he pitched to win.
"Winning that Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, 5-0, Eddie Mathews fielding Moose Skowron's smash and stepping on third base for the final out. What a day that was," he said. "I kept in touch with him. He came back here quite a lot. The last time I saw him was at Warren Spahn's funeral."
Burdette started his career with the Yankees and was traded to the Boston Braves for Johnny Sain during the 1951 season. He also spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and California.
The righty led the NL with 21 wins in 1959, ERA (2.70) in 1956 and twice led the league in shutouts. He pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies on Aug. 18, 1960, and was the winning pitcher in a famous game in which Harvey Haddix lost a perfect game in the 13th inning -- Burdette went all 13 innings for the victory.
Born Selva Lewis Burdette Jr. in Nitro, W.Va., he was called both "Lew" and "Lou." He was 179-120 in 13 seasons for the Braves. He was Atlanta's pitching coach in 1972-73.
Burdette went 17-9 in 1957, then took over the Series. He beat the Yankees 4-2 in Game 2 and outpitched Whitey Ford for a 1-0 victory in Game 5. Burdette came three days later to clinch the title.
He was 20-10 in 1958, again teaming with Spahn to pitch the Braves into the World Series against the Yankees. Burdette homered and won Game 2 but, with chances to close out the championship, lost Game 5 and again in Game 7. The teams were tied at 2 in the eighth inning of the final game, but Skowron's three-run homer helped New York pull away.
Burdette hit 12 home runs, including two off Sandy Koufax. The Braves star especially enjoyed swinging at the Coliseum, where the Dodgers played from 1958-61. The reconfigured football stadium featured a left-field pole about 250 feet from home plate, along with a screen more than 40 feet high.
Burdette hit half of his career homers at the Coliseum, and lofted a fly ball over the screen for his only grand slam as part of two-homer, five-RBI game against the Dodgers in 1958.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to Lou's family, friends and many admirers," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said. "Lou was a true gentleman and one of the greatest pitchers in Braves' history. We will miss him."
Burdette was survived by his wife, Mary Ann; son Lewis; daughters Madge, Mary Lou Burdette-Wieloszynski and Elaina Fontana; a brother, a sister, eight grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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