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Lew Burdette, 80; hurled Braves to title

WINTER GARDEN, Fla. -- Lew Burdette, MVP of the 1957 World Series when he pitched the Milwaukee Braves past the New York Yankees to their only championship, died yesterday. He was 80.

He had lung cancer.

Mr. Burdette, who came to the Boston Braves along with $50,000 for pitcher Johnny Sain, was 203-144 with a 3.66 ERA from 1950-1967. A two-time All-Star and a member of the Milwaukee Braves' Hall of Fame, he also pitched a no-hitter.

Mr. Burdette's greatest success came in the 1957 Series, when he went 3-0 with an 0.67 ERA while pitching three complete games against the New York Yankees. He capped his performance with a seven-hit shutout in Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, finishing off a run of 24 straight scoreless innings. He was the first pitcher since Christy Mathewson in 1905 to throw two shutouts in a series.

"I have a boatload of memories about Lew Burdette," commissioner Bud Selig said by telephone from Milwaukee, where he grew up rooting for the Braves. "I think what I remember most was that he was a tremendous competitor. He pitched in pain, he pitched to win.

"Winning that Game 7 at Yankee Stadium, 5-0, Eddie Mathews fielding Moose Skowron's smash and stepping on third base for the final out. What a day that was," he said. "He came back here quite a lot. The last time I saw him was at Warren Spahn's funeral."

Mr. Burdette started his career with the Yankees and came to Boston during the 1951 season. The Braves left Boston for Milwaukee after the 1952 season.

He also spent time with the St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, and California Angels.

A control master, the righty led the National League with 21 wins in 1959 and ERA (2.70) in 1956. He twice led the league in shutouts. He pitched a no-hitter against the Phillies on Aug. 18, 1960.

He also was the winning pitcher in one of the greatest displays of pitching in the game's history. For 12 innings, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates had hurled a perfect game against the Braves and Mr. Burdette. Haddix lost the perfect game -- and the game -- in the 13th inning. Lew Burdette went all 13 innings for the shutout victory.

Born Selva Lewis Burdette Jr. in Nitro, W.Va., he was called both "Lew" and "Lou."

He went 17-9 in 1957, then took over the Series. He beat the Yankees 4-2 in Game 2 and outpitched Whitey Ford for a 1-0 victory in Game 5. Mr. Burdette clinched the title three days later.

He was 20-10 in 1958, again teaming with Spahn to pitch the Braves into the World Series against the Yankees. Mr. Burdette homered and won Game 2 but, with chances to close out the championship, lost Game 5 and again in Game 7. The teams were tied at 2 in the eighth inning of the final game, but Skowron's three-run homer helped New York win.

"Lou was a true gentleman and one of the greatest pitchers in Braves' history," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said.