|Birth||April 29, 1951 (Lynwood, Los Angeles County, California, U.S.A.)|
Richard Paul "Rooster" Burleson (born April 29, 1951) is a former Major League Baseball shortstop. "Rooster," as he was nicknamed was a famously intense ballplayer. Former Boston Red Sox teammate Bill Lee once said of Burleson, "Some guys didn't like to lose, but Rick got angry if the score was even tied."
Burleson was originally drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 1970 Major League Baseball Draft upon graduation from Warren High School, but did not sign. After a year at Cerritos Junior College, the Boston Red Sox selected Burleson #5 overall during the January secondary phase of the 1970 Major League Baseball Draft.
Burleson spent his first professional season with the Winter Haven Red Sox of the Florida State League. He batted only .220, and committed 38 errors at short. In 1972, Burleson was named an Eastern League All-Star while assigned to the Pawtucket Red Sox. Following Luis Aparicio's retirement, he battled Mario Guerrero for the starting shortstop job in Spring training 1974.
Boston Red Sox
Though Guerrero won the job, Burleson still managed to earn a call to the major leagues by May. On May 4, Burleson tied a major league record by committing three errors in his major league debut, and was replaced by Guerrero at short by the end of the game. Despite the inauspicious start to his career, he would eventually end up being considered among the best defensive shortstops of his generation, earning a Gold Glove Award in 1979.
Burleson was batting .298 with one home run, 28 runs batted in and 45 runs scored to be elected the starting American League shortstop at the 1977 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. For the season, Burleson batted .293 with three home runs, 52 RBIs and 80 runs scored, and was second to Jim Rice among team hit leaders with 194 base hits.
Burleson received All-Star nods in 1978 and 1979 as well. In 1979, Burleson batted .278, scored 90 runs and earned the AL's Gold Glove Award at short to earn his first of two consecutive Thomas A. Yawkey Awards as the Most Valuable Player of the Boston Red Sox. He batted .278 with a career high eight home runs and 89 runs scored, and set a major league record for double plays by a shortstop in a single season with 147 en route to winning the award the following season. From 1975 to 1980, he played in at least 145 games and got at least 140 hits each season.
Following the 1980 season, Burleson was traded to the California Angels with Butch Hobson for Carney Lansford, Rick Miller and Mark Clear. His first season with the Angels, he batted .293 with 33 RBIs and 53 runs scored while playing 109 of the Angels' 110 games during the strike shortened season. He won the Silver Slugger Award as the best hitting shortstop in the American League and the Gene Autry Award as the MVP of the California Angels.
A year later he injured his throwing arm, appearing in only 51 games over the next three seasons, and missing the entire 1985 season. He returned in 1986 to bat .284 with five home runs, 29 RBIs and 35 runs scored in 93 games for the American League Western division winning Angels. Along with backing up Dick Schofield at short, he appeared in 38 games as a designated hitter, and played second and third base for the first time since his rookie season.
Following the season, he signed as a free agent with the Baltimore Orioles. He batted .209 in 55 games as a second baseman for the Orioles in 1987 before he was released during the All-Star break.
Coaching and managerial career
Following his playing career, Burleson coached for the Oakland Athletics (1991), Red Sox (1992-1993) and Angels (1995-1996).
Since the 1997 season, he has managed in the minors for the Lancaster JetHawks (1997-1998), San Bernardino Stampede (1999), San Antonio Missions (2000), Billings Mustangs (2001-2003) and Louisville Bats (2003-2004), before returning to Billings for two seasons (2005-2006). In 2007, he replaced Pat Kelly as manager of the GCL Reds, after Kelly was named bench coach by the Cincinnati Reds.
In 2008, Burleson worked as a Minor League Roving Instructor for Cincinnati and also spent some time as the hitting coach of the Visalia Oaks. From 2009 to 2012, Burleson served as hitting coach and first base coach for the Reno Aces of the Pacific Coast League, the triple-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Burleson is the father of three sons, J. Tyler, R. Chad and W. Kyle, and a daughter, Lauren.