Tom Burr

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Alexander Thomson Burr

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Biographical Information[edit]

Tom Burr was one of eight major league players who died while serving in World War I.

His name is a fun coincidence, what with Vice President Aaron Burr killed former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton in the most famous duel in American history. However, pitcher Burr was known to his friends as "Tom" (his middle name). It is not known why baseball references showed his nickname as "Alex" for decades, but the brevity of his pro career could be the reason. Looking back, press and book citations covering his time in school, the pros, and military service showed "Tom" or otherwise his full name or initials.

He was one of nine major-league players to come from Williams College, although he never played college ball (just some fall practices). Burr had a tremendous schoolboy record on the mound at the Choate School in Connecticut, now known as Choate Rosemary Hall. The New York Yankees signed him in January 1914 and he made the club in spring training. He was 20 when he played in his one game, appearing in center field after manager Frank Chance made several substitutions in a game-tying rally (Chance, who had inserted himself as a pinch-runner, made his last big-league appearance that day), Burr had no chances in the field, and the Yankees won before he made any plate appearances.

Burr then went to the minor leagues and returned to college after his one pro season. In 1917, he enlisted to serve in World War I and wound up with the U.S. Army Air Service. He was killed during a training accident, before his 25th birthday and less than a month before the Armistice that would end the fighting. After his body was recovered from the lake where his plane had gone down, he was buried in American Expeditionary Forces Cemetery No. 29 in France. Eventually, his body was repatriated to the U.S., and he was buried at Rosehill Cemetery in his hometown of Chicago.

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