Burnitz’s Path To Big League Slugger Has Cowboy Roots

Jeromy Burnitz registered 44 home runs and 186 RBI in three seasons as an Oklahoma State Cowboy before being drafted in the first round (17th pick)  of the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft by the New York Mets (photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society).
Jeromy Burnitz registered 44 home runs and 186 RBI in three seasons as an Oklahoma State Cowboy before being drafted in the first round (17th pick) of the 1990 MLB June Amateur Draft by the New York Mets (photo courtesy of the Oklahoma Historical Society).

Jeromy Burnitz was drafted in the 24th round of the June 1987 amateur draft by the Milwaukee Brewers out of Conroe High School in Texas but instead of signing he chose to play college baseball at Oklahoma State. After a standout three seasons in Stillwater, Burnitz was a first-round pick (17th overall) by the New York Mets in the 1990 June draft. 

Burnitz began his professional career in impressive fashion, clubbing 31 home runs with 85 RBI for the Double A Williamsport Bills in his first full minor league season. He made his Major League debut with the Mets at age 24 in 1993 but despite flashes of big-league potential, Burnitz never gained a strong foothold in New York. The Mets traded Burnitz to the Cleveland Indians after the 1994 season and Cleveland, in turn, traded him to the Brewers near the end of the 1996 season. 

The move to Milwaukee turned out to be fortuitous for Burnitz, who quickly became a power-hitting force and reliable defensive asset in the Brewer outfield. In his first full season as a starter in 1997, Burnitz recorded 27 home runs, 85 RBI and a .281 batting average. That was the beginning of a very productive run in Milwaukee. In his five-plus seasons and 782 games played as a Brewer, Burnitz contributed 714 hits,165 home runs and 525 RBI. 

In a somewhat ironic move, Burnitz was dealt back to the New York Mets in a three-way trade prior to the 2002 season. He would continue to be productive for the Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers, Colorado Rockies, Chicago Cubs and Pittsburgh Pirates before retiring after the 2006 season. 

Burnitz finished his 14-year MLB career with 315 home runs, 981 RBI, 1,447 hits and a .253 batting average. He hit 20 or more home runs eight times and 30 or more home runs on four occasions. His best season may have been 1998 when he recorded 38 home runs and 125 RBI for the Brewers. Burnitz represented the Brewers in the 1999 All Star Game, where he finished second in the Home Run Derby to Ken Griffey Jr. 

Burnitz was inducted into the Oklahoma State University Cowboy Baseball Hall of Fame in 1996.   

 

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