Friday, November 25, 2005

November 25th, 1993

Burgess Whitehead Dies

A middle infielder, albeit one who saw most of his time at second base, Burgess Whitehead began his career in 1933 with the Cardinals. He played just a handful of games that year. In 1934, however, he played in a hundred games for the World Series champion Cards, and would later become a regular at the keystone for the Giants on their 1936 and 1937 pennant wining squads. He is truly notable, however, because Whitehead, how can I put this nicely? He was a few chairs short of a living room set.

Following the 1937 season, and the Giants' loss in the World Series, Whitehead--who had played in all but two of the Giants' games the two previous seasons--apparently suffered some sort of nervous breakdown and had to miss the entire 1938 season. The Giants nevertheless welcomed Whitehead back after that season and he returned in 1939. Things still weren't quite perfect, however; in mid-August Whitehead was suspended for violating a team rule. In response, Whitehead dressed in full uniform and showed up at Yankee Stadium, asking to work out with the Yankees. Yankee manager Joe McCarthy, to the surprise of no one (except perhaps Whitehead), refused to let him work out and the Giants decided to take back their eccentric second baseman a few days later. The relationship was still not perfect though, as Whitehead was again suspended by the Giants later that season for leaving the team.

Whitehead continued to play for the Giants in 1940 and '41 but left after that season to join the Navy. He would spend three years fighting in World War II (there's no record, sadly, if Whitehead ever got suspended from the American Navy and attempted to drill with the Royal Navy instead) and would play briefly for Pittsburgh in 1946, but was out of baseball thereafter.

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