Player: Tom Burgmeier didn't have an easy path to the big leagues but he didn't let that stop him from having a lengthy career. Signed by Houston Colt 45's in the fall of 1961 he was released from their AA team in 1964. The left-handed reliever caught on a month later with the Angels but didn't make the majors until 1968. Burgmeier had an unimpressive rookie season (4.33 ERA in 72 innings) and was left unpro-tected in the upcoming expansion draft.
Selected by the newly formed Royals, Burgmeier improved in each of his first three years in KC, lowering his ERA from 4.17 to 3.16 to 1.73. He saved 17 games during the '71 campaign as he appeared in a career high 67 games. He took a big step back in '72 as his ERA jumped over four and by 1973 he was back in the minors.
After the '73 season, Burgmeier was traded to his home state Minnesota Twins. His inaugural season as a Twin was OK at best but he turned in two very good years over the '75 and '76 seasons. He was a workhorse out of the pen for the Twins, saving 12 games and logging 191 innings over the two years with ERA's of 3.09 and 2.50. After a 1977 season in which his WHIP rose to 1.5 and his ERA soared over five, Minnesota let Burgmeier leave for Boston via free agency.
Burgmeier worked in middle relief for the Red Sox in '78 with a 4.41 ERA in 61 innings. Like wine and many other lefty handed hurlers, Burgmeier got better with age as he never again would post a seasonal ERA over 2.87. In '79 he earned some late inning set up work and saved four games. 1980 would prove to be his finest season. He saved a career best 24 games, posted a 2.00 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, and made his only All-Star team.
No longer the closer, Burgmeier did a fine job in middle relief the next two years, averaging more than two innings per appearance and with ERA's of 2.87 and 2.29. He left Boston for Oakland after the '82 season and performed well in a similar role, logging 96 innings in 49 games with a 2.81 ERA. Injured for most of '84, Burgmeier pitched just 23 innings and retired and the end of the year.
Stuff: Fastball, sinker, slider, curve. Suspected of throwing a spitter near the end of his career.
Flipside: The reverse is difficult to read here but it mentions his 8 innings of relief on June 11. Burgmeier earned the 6-2 win after starter Bobby Ojeda left with a bad hamstring. Burgmeier took over and didn't allow a baserunner until the 6th inning nor a hit until the 8th.
Oddball: Burgmeier was quite an athlete, and was lauded as an excellent fielder. He even played outfield on three occasions, twice after taking over as a pinch runner. Even at the age of 39, he was deployed twice as a pinch runner for Jeff Burroughs during the '83 season.
Career: Burgmeier never appeared in the postseason and although selected to the 1980 AL All-Star squad, he did not pitch in the game. He had a nice career for a player who worked for six years in the minors before making the show. Burgmeier had some good years early in his career but became very consistent as a veteran. He posted a 98 ERA+ in his 20's and an even 100 from his age 30 to 34 seasons. From age 35 until the end of his career he recorded an ERA+ of 167. He finished his career with a 79-55 record, 102 saves, 3.23 ERA in 1,258.2 innings.