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Waiting for the call

Catching up with Rick Burleson

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- He was nicknamed "The Rooster" by Don Zimmer and is regarded as one of the greatest defensive shortstops to wear a Boston Red Sox uniform.

Rick Burleson played seven years (1974-1980) with the Red Sox. His intensity was unmatched, and the fans loved him for it.

"It was the way I always played and it's reflective of my personality," said Burleson. "It's the way I went about whatever I was doing -- it was just me. I fit in Boston because of the blue-collar work ethic there. The fans appreciated that I gave 100 percent day in and day out."

Among Boston shortstops, "The Rooster" ranks among the top in many offensive categories, including at-bats (4,064 -- ranks first), games played (1,031 -- second), hits (1,071 -- second), total bases (1,473 -- third) and runs scored (514 -- third).

Defensively, in 1979, Burleson took home a Gold Glove and has turned more double plays in Red Sox history than any other shortstop.

Presently, Burleson calls California his home where he lives with his wife, Karen. They have raised four children Tyler, 26, Chad, 23, Kyle, 21, and Lauren 17.

Professionally, Burleson is still working in baseball as the manager of the Louisville Bats, the Triple-A Affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. Burleson took over the reins last year.

"This is my eighth year managing and I have been fortunate enough be with the Reds the last four years," said Burleson. "When this opportunity was presented to me I jumped at it. Louisville has a great facility, great fans and leads the International League in attendance every year. If you are not going be in the big leagues as a manager this is the best place to be."

Burleson has a dream, just like any minor league player, of being called up to the big leagues to manage. Burleson's name even surfaced this year for the Red Sox managerial post, which ultimately went to Terry Francona.

"Someday I would love to come back as a major league manager to Boston and I think that would be awesome," said Burleson. "I still have the dream of getting the call to go to the big leagues as a manager. At this point it's not something I am obsessed with, but I still have that dream now that my playing days are over. I've enjoyed my opportunity here (Louisville) and I still feel like I have a lot of longevity left with the game."

Burleson, who was the Red Sox first round pick in 1970, made his Boston debut in 1974. Just one year later, he played in the one of the greatest World Series in history. The Red Sox came out on the short end, losing in seven games to the Reds, but Burleson witnessed one of the most famous home runs in baseball history in Game 6 -- Carlton Fisk's famous game-winning dinger in extra innings.   Continued...

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Rick Burleson
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