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


By Thomas Best

Last week, I began the story of a second Roseville, Illinois boy who became a professional baseball player. Previously, I described how Larry Allen Burright was drafted into pro-ball after his successful experiences in high school in Alhambra, California and then in Fullerton College in that same state. He was drafted into the Dodger in their minor league system, which had only recently transplanted itself from Ebbits Field in Brooklyn to the sunny coast of southern California in Los Angeles.

In 1962, the 5’11 and 170 pound Rosevillian, made his first jog out of a major league dugout and out on to the field for the legendary Dodgers. His spring training was deemed so outstanding that year (batting around .500 at one point) that the Dodgers decided to make room for Burright by moving veteran Junior Gilliam over to the hot corner of third base.

He started off the year, hitting as well as he had in spring training. A newspaper account of mid-May recorded that he was on-fire in his last six road contests. In those contests, he hit .452 while driving in 10 runs via 3 doubles, 1 triple, and 2 home runs. Described as well as a “smooth as silk infielder,” Burright was quoted as saying “I hit pretty good in high school, but I’ve never felt as confident at the plate as now.” His manager, the highly revered Walter Alston praised his young second baseman as a sure major league talent stating that “Larry battles you all the way, and you’ve got to give him a lot of credit. After all, he was hitting off some pretty darn good pitchers on our road trip.” There was an even thought in his issue of the Star-News of Pasadena, California, that he might he a harbinger of more Burright brothers to come. The thought was that his two brothers, Roger and Jim, who were both also capable of becoming talented ball players themselves.

That meteoric rise had not dimmed less by mid-June. With a night off scheduled for the rookie, a sports writer commented that Burright, “who chews gum and tobacco with equal finesse is bound to be back in the lineup, because you can’t keep a good man down.” With a current batting average of .350, while blasting 5 doubles, 4 triples, 4 home runs, and 21 RBIs on 32 hits during the time, Burright was contributing to the Dodgers 13-game winning streak. Manager Alston, who commented that he might not have seen Burright as a sure starter at the beginning of the season due to his lack of experience, he was certain now that his rookie was undoubtedly one of the real bright spots on this season’s roster. Alston added: “Larry’s a hard worker [and is] always bearing down. He gives you 100 per center effort.” To his the Dodger skipped admitted that Burright’s performance was clearly one of the reasons for their recent “spurt to the top” of the league.

What happened next for Larry Burright and the Dodgers in 1962? A chance to win “Rookie of the League” honors? Perhaps? Or did the season sour for Burright.

Turn in next week and I will provide part III of the story of Larry Burright of Roseville, Illinois.

Thank you for your interest.

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