Monday, October 26, 2009

Final Card: Smoky Burgess

When I first got this card (#506) way back in 1967, I thought "This guy looks too old and fat to play baseball!" Well, photos can be deceiving, because he's (only!) 40, and after checking his stats today, I see that he didn't really catch too often after 1964 (26 innings in 1965, 5 innings in 1966, none in 1967). He was a clutch pinch-hitter in 1965 and 1966, (but not so good in 1967, which probably explains why that was his last season).

Smoky started pro baseball in the Cubs farm system in 1944. He made several stops (including the PCL Los Angeles Angels) before making the Cubs team in 1949. In October 1951 he was traded to the Reds, and within 2 months was traded to the Phillies for (among others) catcher Andy Seminick. In early 1955 the Phillies traded him back to the Reds for (among others) Andy Seminick!

Before the 1959 season he was traded (along with 3B Don Hoak) to the Pirates for Andy Seminick OF Frank Thomas and others. Burgess played for the Pirates in the 1960 World Series.

The White Sox claimed him from the Pirates in September 1964. As I mentioned at the top, the White Sox used him almost exclusively as a pinch-hitter, not as a catcher. He was released after the 1966 season, re-signed before the 1967 season, and released again after the season.

Smoky is one of only 3 players with 1967 cards to have his MLB debut in the 1940s (along with Curt Simmons and Joe Nuxhall, although Nuxhall retired prior to the 1967 season).

He finished with a .295 batting average in 18 seasons. Not a bad career!

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