November 1 – Happy Birthday Alex “Tom” Burr
Born in Chicago on November 1, 1893 to a well-to-do family, Burr became a pitching star at Williams College. At the time, the elite Massachusetts school employed the services of a trainer for their athletic teams by the name of Charles “Doc” Barrett. Barrett was also the trainer of the New York Yankees which helps explain why several of Williams’ best ballplayers back in that era ended up signing with the Yankee organization. Burr was a big hard-throwing right-handed pitcher who struggled with his control. He pitched well enough, however, during the Yankees’ 1914 spring training camp that he convinced then New York Manager, Frank Chance to bring the kid north to start the regular season. As it turned out, Burr got into just one regular season game with the Yankees and it wasn’t even as a pitcher. Chance inserted him as a pinch runner in the late innings of an April 1914 game against the Senators and was then forced to put his young pitcher in center field the next inning.
The following month the Yankees sold Burr to the Eastern League franchise in New London, CT. At first, Burr was determined to pitch his way back to the big leagues but instead, it appears as if he decided to go back to school. When America entered World War I, Burr enlisted in officer’s training school and was sent to France to attend flying school. It was while training to be a war pilot in October of 1918, that his plane collided with another being flown by a fellow student flier and both men were killed. Less than one month after the fatal accident, the War was over. Burr was one of five Major League players to lose their lives in WWI and he is the only member of the Yankee All-Time roster to have made the supreme sacrifice.
Burr shared a birthday with a former Yankee who was called one of the Game’s first great pinch hitters.