In 1980, I was 8 years old and obsessed with the Red Sox. I knew every player. I thought of them the same way I would think of The Super Friends. When new players came in, I felt it was an opening into an elite fraternity.
And despite all of that, I have no memory of Tom Burgmeier being an All Star for the 1980 Red Sox. Oh, I remember Tom Bergmeier. I just never remembered him being part of the cream of the crop.
The Minnesota native made his big league debut during the 1968 season with the Angels. He made 2 starts and 54 in relief for the Angels. In his 17 year career, he would have only one more start, that would be in 1978.
The 25 year old Burgmeier was plucked by the Royals in the 1969 expansion draft to be their left handed reliever. In 1971, he broke out and posted a 1.73 ERA over 67 appearances, winning 9 games and saving 17 as the young Royals finished with a winning record.
Going into 1974, Burgmeier returned to his home in Minnesota and made a nice tandem with reliever Bill Campbell in the bullpen. It meant of course that he would miss out on the Royals glory years of the mid to late 1970’s but not everyone can have great timing.He and Campbell were dubbed the Bicentennial Bullpen during their solid 1976 campaign. Campbell, the top reliever in the AL, left via the newly earned Free Agent Re Entry Draft to sign with the Red Sox leaving Burgmeier behind. But after 1977, the Bicentennial Bullpen was reunited in Boston.
Signing a free agent agreement, Burgmeier became part of a deep Boston pen for the 1978 season. Campbell, Bob Stanley, Andy Hassler and Dick Drago were all in place when Burgmeier arrived.
It was not his best season, putting up a 4.40 ERA over 61 1/3 innings pitched.
On June 19th, he entered the game against the Yankees in the 4th and pitched into the 9th, throwing 5 1/3 shutout innings to win the game.
He also pitched 5 1/3 innings in another game against the Yankees where he did not allow a run. But that game, a 7-0 loss, was part of the infamous Boston massacre in September. The team did not make the post season as they fell short in the Bucky Bleeping Dent game.
He pitched well in 1979, posting a 2.74 ERA and saving 4 games. But then came 1980, the career year that eluded me.
The Red Sox had acquired Skip Lockwood from the Mets to shore up their bullpen. But he flopped and soon Bob Stanley and Burgmeier were sharing the closer duties. He picked up 3 saves in April and 5 more in May, very few of his appearances were only one inning.
By the All Star Game he had a 2.14 ERA and 15 saves. I am guessing I saw a few of those saves, either at the game or on TV 38. I don’t remember a single one.
He was named to the All Star game. Once again, I have no memory of it.
In August he had a 0.77 ERA and in September put up a 1.65 ERA.
Remember, I elevated these players in a super natural state in my mind. I knew the prospects coming up and which bench players could help. We even went to spring training before the 1980 season.
And still the career year eluded me. He was another Red Sox in the Topps back or someone else warming up in the pen.
He would finish his career in Oakland in the mid 1980’s again JUST missing Oakland’s glory years.
So let me publicly apologize to Mr. Burgmeier. Sorry I missed your best season.
Current Red Sox, I promise to be more alert and attentive.