Tom Burgess (right) was one of the original “future Angels,” playing for the Triple-A Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers in 1961. In this photo, he’s at the Angels’ 1961 minor league camp in Riverside, along with Rangers players Bob Rous and Ray Withrow.
MLB.com reports that former Angels first baseman/outfielder Tom Burgess has passed away at age 81.
Burgess spent much of his playing days in the minors during the 1950s, when most minor league clubs were independently owned and it wasn’t unusual for players to spend more than a decade hoping to break through to the majors. Tom is an example, having played in 12 games with the Cardinals at age 26 in 1954, then drifting around the minors until he was acquired by the Angels in 1961 at age 33. He spent all of 1961 with the Triple-A Dallas-Ft. Worth Rangers, one of two Angels affiliates that year. In 1962, he was with the Angels for the entire season. Burgess was mostly a pinch-hitter, although he did appear at first base for 35 games and twice in the outfield. His AVG/OBP/SLG that year were .196/.354/.301; if you’re wondering about that statistical oddity, Tom drew a lot of walks.
The fledgling FutureAngels.com Database tells us that in 1961 with DFW his numbers were .288/.387/.456; again he drew a lot of walks.
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I’ve been working on documenting the early history of the Angels minor leagues. I’ve felt a bit of urgency since these guys are mostly in their golden years. Some have already passed away, and those who survive are quite delighted (for the most part) that I’m tracking them down and reuniting them with their old teammates.
Tom’s passing reminds me to work a little faster.