Robertson County District Court | Independent Ledger – Maysville Online
The Atlanta Braves, once the pride and joy of Milwaukee and who previously called Boston home, will face the Houston Astros in the 2021 World Series.
The Braves have a rich history that has largely been lost in the sands of baseball. In his book “Boston Braves,” author Richard A. Johnson reminded readers that the Beaneaters pulled off one of baseball’s greatest upheavals when, in 1914, they surprised Connie’s heavily favored and powerful Philadelphia A’s. Mack in a four game sweep.
In total, the New England version of the Braves captured 10 National League pennants and placed 38 players in the Cooperstown Hall of Fame, including Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Casey Stengel, Eddie Mathews and Warren Spahn.
Selva Lewis Burdette of Milwaukee nearly missed for the Cooperstown induction, a 203-game winner who dominated for the Braves in his team’s thrilling 1957 World Series triumph over the mighty New York Yankees.
Burdette was commonly known in baseball circles by his hometown nickname, “Nitro Lew”, his birthplace in West Virginia. In the 1957 seven-game series, Burdette earned three full wins, including a shutout in the final of Game 7 after just two days off. In those three games, Burdette held future Yankees Hall of Fame members Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra to a harmless single between them and, for the series, a 0.67 ERA.
Burdette became the first pitcher to pitch three full games and two shutouts since 1905 when Christy Mathewson of the New York Giants achieved the remarkable feat. And “Nitro Lew” quickly took care of his Yankee domination. The times of the three departures from Burdette were respectively 2:26, 2:00 and 2:34.
Society for American Baseball Research historian Alex Kupfer remembers Burdette as a restless man whose constant fit of hat and jersey, wiping forehead, touching lips, and mumbling distracted them. hitters who were convinced the pitcher was throwing a spitting ball. When asked to identify his best pitch, Burdette replied that it is “the one I do not throw”, a subtle denial that he has moistened the bulb. Originally drafted by the Yankees, Burdette had a golden opportunity to learn how to throw spitball. Early in the Yankees’ system, Burdette occasionally worked with traveling pitching coach Burleigh Grimes, one of the game’s great spitballers. But, he was concerned that if he showed Burdette how to throw a spittoon, the promising young right-hander. be expelled from professional baseball.
Two years after his performance as the World Series MVP, Burdette has been a key protagonist in one of baseball’s most extraordinary games. One rainy evening in Milwaukee on May 26, 1959, Burdette faced the astute Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates. For 12 innings, Haddix struck out 36 straight Braves, while Burdette also threw a scoreless, but not perfect, ball. Then, in the 13th inning, Braves slugger Joe Adcock threw Felix Mantilla, the winning run.
Mantilla had reached the first base on the mistake of third baseman Don Hoak. The imperfect Burdette nevertheless produced an excellent performance; he pitched 13 scoreless innings, allowed 12 hits and walked none. After the match, Burdette telephoned Haddix to say sympathetically, “You deserved to win, but I scattered all my hits and you grouped yours.” Not appreciating either Burdette’s sense of humor or his timing, the still intelligent Haddix hung up.
Before his 18-year career ended in 1967, Burdette made sometimes effective short stints with the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs and California Angels. At the end of his active career, Burdette spotted, joined the Braves as an Atlanta pitching coach, worked in public relations for a Milwaukee brewery, and aired on Florida cable television. Although Burdette was on the Hall of Fame ballot for 15 consecutive years starting in 1973, he always failed.
In 2007 Burdette, a victim of lung cancer, died at the age of 80 in Winter Garden, Florida, where he had taken up residence during his post-baseball career. At Burdette’s funeral, her World Series teammate, Johnny Logan, failed to shed light on the decades-unsolved mystery about the crafty right-hander’s spitball. Logan, however, admitted in his eulogy that he couldn’t tell if Burdette threw a wet one, but he knew his teammate “was one hell of a competitor.”