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Jesse Cail Burkett (December 4, 1868 – May 27, 1953), nicknamed "Crab", was an American left fielder in Major League Baseball from 1890 to 1905. He batted over .400 twice, and held the major league hits record for 15 years.[1] After his playing career, Burkett managed in the minor leagues. He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

Jesse Burkett
1920 Jesse Burkett.jpeg
Burkett in 1920
Left fielder
Born: (1868-12-04)December 4, 1868
Wheeling, West Virginia
Died: May 27, 1953(1953-05-27) (aged 84)
Worcester, Massachusetts
Batted: Left Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 22, 1890, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
October 7, 1905, for the Boston Americans
MLB statistics
Batting average.338
Home runs75
Runs batted in952
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Election MethodVeteran's Committee


Early lifeEdit

Burkett was born in Wheeling, West Virginia,[2] to Granville and Ellen Burkett. His father was a laborer and painter who worked for the Wheeling and Belmont Bridge Company.[3] Beginning his professional career as a pitcher, he won 27 games at the age of 19 in 1888 in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and also compiled a 39–6 record for the Worcester Club of the New England League. He acquired his nickname, "Crab", due to his serious disposition.[4]

Major League Baseball careerEdit

Burkett made his major league debut for the New York Giants of the National League (NL) in 1890 and had a batting average of .309. He was then purchased by the Cleveland Spiders in February 1891 and played for them through the 1898 season. In 1892, he hit .275 and was among the league's top ten players in runs scored and triples. The next season, his batting average increased to .348 (sixth highest in the league) and drew 98 walks (fifth most in the league). He remained in the top ten in walks in almost every season throughout his career.[2]

In 1895, he batted .405 and led the NL in batting average and hits (225). The following season, he set a career-high in batting average, at .410, and led the league in batting average, hits (240), and runs scored (160).[2] His 240 hits were a major league record for 15 years until Ty Cobb hit 248 in 1911.[1][5] Burkett was the second player in major league history to bat over .400 twice, the first being Ed Delahanty. The Spiders finished second in 1895 and 1896 and played the Baltimore Orioles both seasons in the Temple Cup series, beating the Orioles in 1895.

In August 4, 1897 Burkett was ejected from both games of a doubleheader against the Louisville Colonels. In the first game, Burkett and an umpire (Bill Wolf) got into a heated argument and Burkett was thrown out, when he did not leave the field, the umpire threatened to forfeit the game to Louisville. Manager Patsy Tebeau agreed to forfeit the game to the Louisville Colonels by a score of 9-0.[6][7] In the next game of the double header, the arguments against Bill Wolf continued, and by the ninth inning Burkett was ejected again. Similar to the first game, he did not leave the field and two police officers where called in and dragged Burkett from the field.[6]

By the end of 1898 the Cleveland Spiders were unable to afford to play in Cleveland and pay their highly paid players, and as a result played 35 of their last 38 games on the road. In the offseason, owner Frank Robison bought a struggling St. Louis Cardinals[8] and in March of 1898, Burkett along with teammate Cy Young were moved from the Cleveland Spiders to the St. Louis Perfectos.[9] He played for the Perfectos/Cardinals for three seasons. In 1901, he led the NL in batting average (.376), on-base percentage (.440), hits (226), and runs scored (142). Before the 1902 season, Burkett jumped to the St. Louis Browns of the American League. He played for the Browns for three seasons and then finished his major league career with the Boston Americans in 1905.[2]

Burkett holds the record for the most inside-the-park home runs in MLB history, with 55.[10] He has the highest batting average (.378) and on-base percentage (.444) in St. Louis Cardinals history.[11]

Later lifeEdit

Burkett managed the New England League's Worcester Busters from 1906 to 1915 and played some games for the team, as well.[12] In 1906, he led the league with a .344 batting average.[13]

Newspapers described Burkett as retiring from baseball in 1916. He secured a position with a brass factory in Worcester in December.[14] However, he signed on as a coach with College of the Holy Cross late that month.[15] In four seasons at Holy Cross, Burkett amassed an 88-12-1 record; nine players on his 1919 team were designated All-East players.[16]

Burkett managed sporadically in the minor leagues until 1933.[12] He was elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.[2] The Wheeling native became the first West Virginian elected into the Hall of Fame.

Burkett died in Worcester, Massachusetts, on May 27, 1953.[2]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Progressive Leaders & Records for Hits". Baseball-Reference. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Jesse Burkett Statistics and History". Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  3. ^ "Jesse Burkett: Looking 'Em Over". Ohio County Public Library. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  4. ^ "Burkett, Jesse". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved February 22, 2014.
  5. ^ Joe Vasile. "The evolution of the single-season hit record". Beyond the Box Score. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Fleitz, David L, pp. 76
  7. ^ David Jones. "Jesse Burkett". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  8. ^ "Robison, Frank De Hass". Encyclopedia of Cleveland History. July 22, 1997. Retrieved September 1, 2014.
  9. ^ Fleitz, David L, pp. 77
  10. ^ "Inside The Park Home Run Records". Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  11. ^ "St. Louis Cardinals Top 50 Career Batting Leaders". Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  12. ^ a b "Jesse Burkett Minor League Statistics & History". Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  13. ^ "1906 New England League Batting Leaders". Retrieved February 1, 2013.
  14. ^ "Jesse Burkett now factory employee". The Day. December 8, 1916. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  15. ^ "Jesse Burkett to pilot Holy Cross". The Day. December 23, 1916. Retrieved January 2, 2015.
  16. ^ "2014 Holy Cross Baseball" (PDF). College of the Holy Cross. Retrieved January 2, 2015.[permanent dead link]


External linksEdit

Preceded by
Hugh Duffy
Single season base hit record holders
Succeeded by
Ty Cobb