Bill Burns (baseball)

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Bill Burns
Bill Burns (baseball).jpg
Born: (1880-01-27)January 27, 1880
San Saba, Texas
Died: June 6, 1953(1953-06-06) (aged 73)
Ramona, California
Batted: Both
Threw: Left
MLB debut
April 18, 1908, for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
May 23, 1912, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Win–loss record30–52
Earned run average2.72

William Thomas Burns (January 27, 1880 – June 6, 1953), nicknamed "Sleepy Bill," was an American baseball player who played as a pitcher in Major League Baseball for five different teams from 1908 to 1912. Burns earned his nickname for his noticeable lack of intensity on the mound.[1]

Burns is best known for his involvement in the alleged fixing of the 1919 Chicago White Sox World Series, dubbed the Black Sox Scandal.

In his five-year career, Burns played for the Washington Senators, Chicago White Sox, Cincinnati Reds, Philadelphia Phillies, and Detroit Tigers.[2] In his rookie season, 1908, Burns had a 1.69 earned run average (ERA) which was sixth best in the American League. However, he had a career record of 30–52 as a pitcher and never won more than eight games in a season.

Pitching against the Tigers on May 21, 1908, Burns' bid for a no-hitter ended after 8 2/3 innings when Germany Schaefer singled to drive in the game's only run. On July 31, 1909, now pitching for the White Sox against Walter Johnson and the Senators, Burns again was one out from a no-hitter when it was broken up. This made him the first pitcher in baseball history to suffer this fate twice, a feat not repeated until Dave Stieb lost no-hitters with two outs in the ninth inning in consecutive starts on September 24 and 30, 1988. Yu Darvish would have become the third on May 9, 2014[3] , but a seventh-inning error was officially re-scored as a hit five days later after an appeal by David Ortiz[4] . Stieb would go on to break Burns's record on August 4, 1989, this time losing a perfect game with one out to go.

Involvement in the Black Sox Scandal[edit]

Prior to the start of the 1919 World Series, a group of players from the Chicago White Sox agreed to intentionally lose the world series in exchange for money from gamblers. Burns met with Eddie Cicotte and Chick Gandil at The Ansonia, a hotel in New York City during the formative stages of the event.[5]

It is likely that Burns operated on behalf of Arnold Rothstein, a New York businessman and gambler. Burns relayed messages back and forth between the players who had agreed to fix the games and a person whose initials were "A .R.".[6]

After news of the scandal broke, a trial took place in Chicago, Illinois. During this trial, Burns served as a witness for the prosecution. Assistant State Attorney Edward Prindeville examined Burns during the trial. Burns testified:

I told them I had the hundred thousand dollars to handle the throwing of the World Series. I also told them that I had the names of the men who were going to finance it. I told them they were waiting below.[7]


  1. ^ "Bill Burns". Archived from the original on November 7, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
  2. ^ "Bill Burns". Archived from the original on June 29, 2007. Retrieved June 20, 2007.
  3. ^ "Kernels: A singular focus". May 12, 2014. Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  4. ^ "MLB changes error to hit for Ortiz vs. Darvish". Retrieved October 25, 2014.
  5. ^ "The Major Players". Retrieved June 5, 2007.
  6. ^ "Key Figures in the 1919 Black Sox Scandal". Archived from the original on May 16, 2007. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
  7. ^ "Excerpts of Bill Burns' Trial Testimony". Archived from the original on June 26, 2007. Retrieved June 6, 2007.

External links[edit]