Rick Burleson

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Rick Burleson
Rick Burleson

Known affectionately as “Rooster,” Rick Burleson joined the Red Sox as a rookie in 1974 and went on to be a popular figure in Boston for seven seasons, making up for a lack of range with a strong arm that helped turn many a double play. Becoming the everyday shortstop in 1975, he had plenty of opportunity to hone his skills and develop into a legitimate double-play threat, as he turned the trick 102 times. Burleson finished that season with a .963 fielding percentage, having made just 29 errors in 784 chances. Although his batting average dipped from his rookie mark of .284 to just .252, he improved in almost every other category, hitting six home runs and driving in 62 while scoring 66 runs. It was good enough to even get some votes for American League Most Valuable Player, though he finished well behind eventual winner and fellow Red Sox teammate Fred Lynn in the voting.

Burleson would play five more seasons with Boston and made the All-Star team three times in that span, and his defensive abilities even earned him a Gold Glove award in 1979 after he helped turn a major league record 147 double plays and two triple plays that season. Granted free agency after the 1980 season, he signed the most lucrative deal ever given a shortstop, a six-year, $4.2 million contract to play with California. However, he would play just one full season under that deal; just a couple of weeks into the 1982 season, he tore his rotator cuff making a throw to first and would play just 133 more games for the Angels over the life of that contract. His career finally came to an end after the 1987 season, finishing with a .971 fielding percentage at shortstop and having made a whooping 827 double plays from his position.

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