Pitcher Selva Lewis ‘‘Lew’’ Burdette Jr. (November 22, 1926-February 6, 2007) was an outstanding major league baseball player who spent most of his career with the Milwaukee Braves. He was born in Nitro. An excellent football and basketball player at Nitro High School, Burdette did not play baseball because the school did not have a team. He learned to pitch in 1944 with the American Viscose Rayon Company team the summer after his high school graduation. Burdette signed his first professional contract with the New York Yankees in 1946, but did not become a regular until 1952 as a member of the Boston Braves. In 1949, he married Mary Ann Shelton, a Charleston telephone operator.
Burdette at six feet and 180 pounds was a control pitcher. His best years were with the Milwaukee Braves from 1957 through 1961, when he won from 17 to 21 games each season and led the National League in a number of categories. In 1957, Burdette had a 17-9 win-loss record and won three games in the World Series to lead the Braves to victory over the Yankees, four games to three. Following the World Series he returned to Nitro on October 4 for ‘‘Lew Burdette Day.’’ He won 20 games in 1958 and 21 games in 1959. Burdette led the league in wins in 1959, and in strikeouts from 1959 to 1961.
The last stop in Burdette’s baseball career was with the California Angels in 1967. In 18 major league seasons, he had won 203 games and lost 144. When he retired from baseball he worked in developing cable television in Florida where he lived from 1954 until his death.
This Article was written by C. Robert Barnett
Last Revised on September 27, 2012
Baseball Encyclopedia. New York: Macmillan Pub., 1996.
Porter, David, ed. Biographical Dictionary of American Sports: Baseball. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1999.
Driver, David. The Pride of Nitro. Goldenseal, (Fall 1998).