George H Burpo was born on June 19, 1922 in Jenkins, Kentucky
At 17, the big left-hander was signed by the Cincinnati Reds and
sent to Muskogee
in the Western
Burpo threw hard and wild. He was 1-4 at Muskogee and spent the next two seasons with
the Tucson Cowboys of the Arizona-Texas League. In 1940, he struck
out 18 against Albuquerque
and still lost the game. Then, in 1941, he pitched a no-hitter.
There were times when he was virtually unhittable.
"He won't get to the big leagues overnight," said
his manager at Tucson,
Pat Patterson, "but he can't miss getting there. Sure, he's wild,
but that's the purpose of minor leagues - to help give kids like him
needed experience. After all, if he didn't have any weaknesses, he
would be up there now, and not in a class D league."
The Reds looked at Burpo during spring training
in 1942 before assigning him to the Birmingham Barons of the
Southern Association where, despite a respectable 7-7 won-loss
record, he managed to set a Southern Association record by walking
12 batters in a game.
Burpo entered military service in 1943 and served
with the Navy in Oklahoma.
He pitched regularly in the Oklahoma State Service League. On one
occasion he struck out 19 of 21 men who faced him. Another time he
pitched three innings and struck out all nine batters. "When we
didn't play for a couple of weeks I'd find that my control would be
off," he told the Tucson
Daily Citizen on December 8, 1945. "But if I could pitch
regularly and without too long a lay-off, I would have better luck."
Burpo was discharged from service at the end of
1945. He made his major league debut with the Reds on June 9, 1946,
and appeared in two games for a total of two-and-one-third innings.
True to form, he walked five batters. He spent the remainder of the
season with Syracuse in the International League and
joined the Columbia Reds in the South Atlantic League in 1947.
“I saw [Burpo] pitch half a game in the first
teammate Ed Schlensker in the
Hamilton Journal-News on February 17, 1974." Manager Walker
would make Burpo take the regular pitchers' pregame workouts even on
the day he pitched plus maybe 10 or 15 minutes of "pepper" to help
tire him out because it was apparent the only time George could
consistently get the ball over the plate was when he was tired."
Burpo was 9-13 with
and had an ERA of 5.17. He was with the Seattle Rainiers in the
Pacific Coast League for spring training in 1948, but was released
and then purchased by
Denver. He retired from the game before the
season was out.
George Burpo later operated the Moore Business
Forms company in
and participated in old-timer’s games in the 1970s.