Aug 21, 2016

Former Mets Pitcher: Ray Burris (1979-1980)

Bertram Ray Burris was born August 22, 1950 in Idabel, Oklahoma. It's safe to say, he is the only former Met to have the real first name of Bertram. The tall six foot five, right hander went to South Western Oklahoma State University and was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 17th round of the 1972 draft.

Burris was brought up to the big leagues the next season by a Cub staff in need of a pitcher. On April 18th in his second career game, he got a start at Shea Stadium against the New York Mets. Burris pitched five innings allowed just four hits & no runs, earning his first career victory. It would be his only start & win of the season. He went 1-1in 31 games posting a 2.92 ERA.

After two seasons as a reliever, he was put into the Cub rotation in 1975. He would be a regular on the Cubs staff for the next four seasons, winning 15 games twice (1975 & 1976) leading the team in victories & innings pitched both years.

In 1975 he was 15-10 but struck out the least amount of batters among Cub starters (108) & actually gave up more earned runs (109) than strike outs. That season he posted a 4.12 ERA & allowed 238 hits.

The next year he lost 13 games (15-13) but posted a better ERA (3.11) . In those season he was in the league's top ten in starts, hits & Hrs allowed both years. Although he had some stretches of being a top pitcher, he was always plagued by the long ball, serving up twenty plus HRs four times.

In 1977 he gave up a league leading 29 HRs while going 14-16 for a Cubs team that finished fourth for a second straight year. In 1978 he fell to a 7-13 record posting a 4.75 ERA and going back to the bullpen. In mid 1979 he was traded to the AL New York team for Dick Tidrow but pitched just 15 games there going 1-3. He was placed on waivers & got picked up by the New York Mets in late August.

He came to a bad 1979 Mets team and was thrown in the rotation right away. Burris made his Mets debut on August 24th pitching seven innings of two hit shutout ball against the Cincinnati Reds. Unfortunately he earned no decision as the Mets were shut out 1-0.

He took losses to the Atlanta Braves & Montreal Expos in his next two games. He went 0-2 in four appearances the rest of that year. Burris was an all around good athlete and a good base runner who was sometimes used as a pinch runner.

In 1980 he began the year at 2-0 & then On May 2nd he went eight innings allowing only two hits with one run to the San Diego Padres but took a loss. He soon found himself at 4-6 but was pitching well enough to have a 3.29 ERA. He pitched a complete game against the Philadelphia Phillies in June allowing only one run getting no decision.

After missing all of July, Burris had a good stretch in mid August going 3-1 and beyond the 7th inning each time. He allowed less than two runs three times in five games. He finished up with a 7-13 record, 83 strike outs 54 walks, 20 HRs allowed & a 4.02 ERA in 170 innings in 29 games. He led the Mets staff in games started (29) innings pitched (171) losses (13) and HRs allowed (29).

After the season he was a free agent and signed with the Montreal Expos. In the strike shortened 1981 season, he was 9-7 tied for second on the staff in wins behind Steve Rodgers. That year the Expos made their only post season appearance.

Post Season: Burris lost to the Philadelphia Phillies in Game #3 of the NLDS, allowing four runs in 5.1 innings pitched. In the NLCS against the eventual World Champion Los Angeles Dodgers, he was the winning pitcher in Game #2 throwing a five hit shut out.

He struggled mightily in 1982 going 4-14 (fourth most losses in the NL) & was traded to the Oakland A's. In Oakland he made a great come back, winning 13 games, going 13-10 with a 3.15 ERA (9th best in the AL). ver the next three years he pitched in Milwaukee (1985 & 1987) as well as with the St. Louis Cardinals (1986).

He finished up his 15 year career going 108-134 lifetime with a 4.17 ERA. He struck out 1067 batters, walked 764, allowed 221 HRs (161 all time) 1015 earned runs (222nd all time) in 2188 innings pitched in 480 games.

Retirement: Burris became a pitching coach in the Detroit Tigers organization after his playing days. He is known to have a serious phobia of bees.

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