Stories of the Midwest: Major League Baseball and Roseville, Illinois: Part I: The Life and Career of Larry Burright


By Thomas Best

In the midst of the Great Depression, Larry Allen Burright was born in Roseville on July 10, 1937. He would become the second future major league baseball player to call small Roseville his hometown. Now 85 years old, he may still be alive in his home in California. Today, I will describe his early life and minor league career.

What I know of Burright is still limited to these facts. Upon entering the major leagues, he stood 5’11 tall and weighed a slim 170 pounds. His family had moved to Fulton County, IL by 1850 where his father worked as a mechanic. From there, I found Burright next finishing his education at Mark Keppel High School in Ahlambra, California, before he next the attended Fullerton College for a year. It was from solid athletic background that he was signed in 1957 as a 19 year-old with the newly-relocated Los Angeles Dodgers.

First exhibiting his talent in the Dodgers minor league system at Thomasville, Georgia, he played second base in 136 games and hit a respectable .242 with an even better .394 on-base percentage. With 115 runs, 16 doubles, 7 triples, and 22 stolen bases, Burright showed promising signs of both power and speed. That season earned him a promotion to Great Falls, Montana where he proved even better with a .285 batting average and flashed his talent with 18 doubles, 13 triples, and 67 RBIs. In one of his better games, Burright batted leadoff and went 3 for 5 with 4 RBIs in a 10-3 victory.

In 1959, Burright was first elevated to the Dodgers AA franchise, but was then demoted back to class A after struggling at the plate. The year 1960 appeared to be a year plagued by injuries as he started in only 48 games. Therefore, in 1961, this season appeared to be his put-forth or consider giving up his dream. Although still struggling early on, by late season, Burright caught fire. In 87 contests, he came to the plate 348 times, scored 42 runs on 91 hits, while batting nearly .300. Larry Burright, now 23 years-old, had finally translated the potential talent the Dodgers must have seen him exhibit in his high school and college days into trusting statistics that said “You’re ready for the Show.”

Next week, I will continue with his story and his first year in the Big Leagues. In 1962, Larry Burright climbed out of the dugout as a Los Angeles Dodger.

Thank you for your interest.

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