Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Kevin Burdick, Crushed Everything - 378

Originally published June 13, 2010
Usually, the danger for baseball players comes on the field, through falling batting averages and dropped balls. For Kevin Burdick, the danger came sitting on the bench.

On June 6, 1990, Burdick's Buffalo Bisons teammate Wes Chamberlain fouled off a pitch. The ball ricocheted off the back dugout wall and into Burdick's nose, according to an account in The Pittsburgh Press.

Burdick suffered a broken nose, separated septum and broken blood vessels, The Press wrote. He was also out for nearly a month.

"It was very unfortunate," Buffalo manager Terry Collins told The Press. "Not only was he hitting well, he was a real catalyst for our ballclub. He gave every ounce of energy he had every night."

Burdick appeared on course for Pittsburgh. He was hitting .310 at the time. After he returned, his average dropped to .282. It would be his final year of four with the Pirates organization. It would also be his second-to-last in the minors, his career ending without making the majors.

Burdick's professional career began in 1987, when he was taken by the Pirates in the 18th round, out of Oklahoma. With the Sooners, Burdick led a come-from-behind victory in April 1986 with a bases-loaded single. He won first-team All-American honors that year.

With the Pirates, Burdick began at short-season Watertown. He made AA Harrisburg in 1988. With the Senators, the infielder was tagged as one to watch, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Harrisburg manager Dave Trembley told The Post-Gazette Burdick reminded him of Tim Flannery.

"He's scrappy and very durable, and I think he'll stick around long enough to get a shot (at the major leagues)," Trembley told The Post-Gazette.

Burdick made the Eastern League All-Star team in 1989, before earning a promotion to AAA Buffalo. He returned to Buffalo for 1990 then moved on to to the Cleveland system for 1991. He played only 36 games that year at AAA Colorado Springs before his career ended.

But, when he got hit by that foul ball in June 1990, the Pirates believed he had a future.

Burdick told The Press the injury was the first time he'd had to miss a game due to injury.

"I guess it just caught up with me," Burdick told the paper. "My nose doesn't look bad, but everything inside is damaged. That ball crushed everything."

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