We're cooking now! The 90th Greatest Royal of All-Time is Tom Burgmeier.
Tom Burgmeier was a talented athlete who lettered in three sports in high school in St. Cloud, Minnesota. He once tossed an eleven inning no-hitter, struck out twenty-three, and lost. He would have fit in perfectly with today's Royals. Teams considered moving him to the outfield, and although his pitching proved to be too valuable to make the move permanent, he was a good enough athlete to make three career appearances in the Major Leagues as an outfielder.
Burgmeier signed with the expansion Houston Colt .45's (later renamed the Astros) in 1961 out of high school. After three seasons in the minors, he was released and signed by the California Angels. He debuted with the Angels in 1968 with a 4.33 ERA in 72 innings, which was astronomical at the time (the high mound era).
In 1969, the American League decided to expand once again, and the new Royals took Burgmeier as the 47th overall selection in the American League Expansion Draft.
The best players the Royals took in the Expansion Draft, ranked by Win Shares with the Royals.
Al Fitzmorris 70 (40th pick)
Paul Schaal 64 (27th)
Dick Drago 61 (31st)
Bob Oliver 31 (19th)
Roger Nelson 29 (1st)
Fran Healy 28 (56th)
Pat Kelly 27 (34th)
Mike Hedlund 24 (45th)
Tom Burgmeier 24 (47th)
Jim Rooker 19 (6th)
Wally Bunker 19 (25th)
Joe Foy 16 (4th) (he did bring us Amos Otis!)
Mike Fiore 16 (17th)
Bill Butler 16 (22nd)
Moe Drabowsky 16 (42nd)
Joe Keough 15 (8th)
Jackie Hernandez 10 (43rd)
Ellie Rodriguez 9 (13th)
Dave Morehead 5 (15th)
Jerry Adair 3 (51st)
Scott Northey 2 (58th)
Jerry Cram 1 (54th)
Players drafted who never earned Win Shares with the Royals: Steve Jones (10th), Jon Warden (12th), Steve Whitaker (23rd), Dan Haynes (29th), Billy Harris (36th), Don O'Riley (38th), Hoyt Wilhelm (49th), and Ike Brookens (60th).
In 1969 Burgmeier posted a 4.17 ERA in 54 innings with the big league club. In 1970, he failed to break north with the club out of spring training. He went to Omaha and posted a 1.23 ERA through the first six weeks. The Royals could not ignore his performance and promoted him to the big league for good. The left-hander quickly became one of manager Bob Lemon's most trusted relievers in late innings. In 1971, he finished third in the league with 67 relief appearances, and posted a 1.73 ERA. He recorded nine victories and seventeen saves and combined with Ted Abernathy as a solid 1-2 tandem to close games.
Burgmeier was never much of a strikeout artist, posting just 4.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his time in Kansas City, 4.17 for his career. The lack of strikeouts really fell off in 1972 with just 18 in 55.2 innings, and his ERA skyrocketed to 4.23. In 1973 he pitched just ten innings with the Royals and at the end of the year he was dealt to his hometown Twins for minor leaguer Ken Gill. Oddly, this is the only trade in the history of the Twins and Royals involving a Major League player.
Burgmeier had a pretty decent career with the Twins, then moved on to Boston where he became a really great reliever. In 1980, he was an All-Star with the Red Sox and finished with a career high twenty-four saves. At age 39, he still posted a 2.81 ERA in 96 innings, and at age 40 he posted a 2.35 ERA in 23 innings.
Burgmeier has been a minor league coach since 1992, spending most of that time with the Royals. He was the big league club bullpen coach from 1998-2000, but has spent most of his coaching career as a pitching coach at the Class A level. This year he spends his second straight year at Omaha crafting our young arms. Let's hope he doesn't teach the "pitch to contact" philosophy that served him well in the big ballpark era.