Burkett batted over .400 three times, a feat duplicated only by Ty Cobb and Rogers Hornsby. A lefthanded line-drive hitter and clever bunter, his ability to foul pitches off was one of the reasons for the introduction of the rule making foul balls strikes. He said he owed his success to “that old confeedence,” but his speed helped him leg out many hits. He scored more than 100 runs in nine different seasons, twice topping the NL.
The 5’8″ 155-lb Burkett starred in the outfield for the Cleveland Spiders during the 1890s and was one of the players switched to St. Louis in 1899 when the Cleveland franchise was stripped.
Called “The Crab” because of his caustic barbs and constant complaining, he insulted rivals, fans, and teammates with equal venom. He was particularly sensitive to suggestions that he and Jack Glasscock, whom he resembled, were father and son, and would fight anyone who said so.
After leaving the ML, Burkett owned and managed the Worcester club of the New England League, 1906-13, making regular appearances in the outfield until he was 45. He later managed other minor league clubs and coached several college teams. In 1921, he coached for John McGraw‘s New York Giants, still as salty and bitter-tongued as ever. When the Giants won the WS, McGraw had to dig into his own pocket for a bonus for “The Crab”; the players refused to vote him a share.