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Burdette named to Brewers' Walk of Fame

Burdette named to Brewers' Walk of Fame

MILWAUKEE -- After two years of narrow misses, former Milwaukee Braves right-hander Lew Burdette finally has his spot in the Walk of Fame outside Miller Park.

Burdette, the hero of Milwaukee's only World Championship in 1957, garnered enough votes from Wisconsin media and Brewers front office officials for induction and will be honored on the plaza outside Miller Park on June 11 before an Interleague game against the Rangers.

Burdette passed away in February 2007 and his wife, Mary Ann, died four months later. But the Burdettes will be represented at the ceremony by their four children: A son, Lewis, and daughters Madge, Mary Lou and Elaina.

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"I think that dad would be appreciative of it and grateful, but he wouldn't have been boastful about it," said Mary Lou Burdette-Wieloszynski, who was born between the '57 National League Championship Series and the World Series.

"He would never have thought, 'It's about time,'" she said. "He would have just been very gracious about it."

The Walk of Fame recognizes the biggest names in Milwaukee's long baseball history, and Burdette is just the sixth man with Braves ties so honored. The others are inaugural inductee Hank Aaron, who also played with the Brewers, Bob Uecker, who is probably more well-known for his work as the Brewers' radio voice, former Braves general manager John Quinn and Hall of Famers Warren Spahn and Eddie Matthews.

Quinn, Spahn and Matthews were inducted in 2007, the first year that Braves players and executives were included on the ballot. No one had made the cut since, until the Burdette announcement on Thursday.

Former Braves and Brewers players needed to appear on 75 percent of ballots from a group of Wisconsin reporters and club officials to gain election, and Burdette's 25 votes gave him enough. Pitcher Teddy Higuera was the closest to election among former Brewers with 64 percent of the vote (21 ballots). 

Other notable names approaching election were Brewers manager George Bamberger (61 percent of the vote) and pitcher Mike Caldwell (52 percent), and Braves infielder Johnny Logan (61 percent).

Burdette was a member of the Milwaukee Braves from 1953-63, he went 3-0 with a 0.67 ERA and two shutouts in the 1957 World Series to earn MVP honors. Overall with Milwaukee, Burdette was 179-120 with a 3.53 ERA. He led the NL with 21 wins in 1959 and his 2.70 ERA in 1956 also led the NL.  

His performance against the Yankees in the '57 World Series cemented his star status, but Burdette's wife missed the clincher. She was at home with a newborn baby Mary Lou and a sick son, Lewis, when the oldest daughter, Madge, ran into some bushes and got a thorn in her eye. The family spent Game 7 in the hospital. Mary Ann Burdette didn't want to burden her husband with the issues at home, and he had enough on his hands. He pitched Game 7 on two days' rest and worked a seven-hit shutout.

According to the Web site BaseballAlmanac.com, Burdette's response to questions about working on two days' rest was this: "I'll be all right. In 1953, I once relieved in 16 games out of 22. I'm bigger, stronger and dumber now."

Spahn and Burdette were roommates on the road throughout their 11 seasons together in Milwaukee and remained friends late in life, Burdette-Wieloszynski said. Spahn, the winningest left-hander in Major League history, died in 2003.

Six former Brewers players and two former Braves did not reach the necessary 5 percent of the vote to remain on the 2010 ballot.  A total of 33 ballots were returned this year and there were 15 Braves and 30 Brewers on the ballot.

The ballots included on-field personnel who wore a Brewers or Braves uniform for a minimum of three seasons but have been retired from playing/managing roles for at least three seasons. All players and managers receiving votes on at least five percent of the ballots will remain eligible in 2011.

The Walk of Fame welcomed Aaron, Rollie Fingers, Paul Molitor, and Robin Yount in 2001; Commissioner Bud Selig and Cecil Cooper in 2002;  Uecker and Harry Dalton in 2003; Jim Gantner and Gorman Thomas in 2004; Don Money and Harvey Kuenn in 2005 and Matthews, Spahn and Quinn in 2007. No one was elected in 2006, 2008 or 2009.

"We're very thrilled about it, and it was a neat call to get the news," Burdette-Wieloszynski said. "We're certainly biased, but his record shows he deserves it."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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