All-Time Indians: George Burns

Name: George Henry Burns Position: First Base              
Nick Name: Tioga George                      
Tribe Time: 1920-1921,1924-1928 DOB: 01/31/1893                
Accolades: AL MVP 1926, Top 25 MVP (1925)          
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS SB% OBP SLG AVG OPS ISOP
Best Season (1926) 151 603 97 216 64 3 4 114 298 28 33 13 7 65% .358 .494 .358 .852 .136
Career 757 2611 402 853 230 20 22 431 1189 157 144 62 38 62% .365 .455 .327 .820 .129

 

In 1926 George Burns became the first MVP in Cleveland Indians history. Burns originally arrived in Cleveland in 1920 (the Indians first championship season) after being purchased from the Philadelphia Athletics. After one good full season in 1921, Burns was traded to the Red Sox before 1922, only to return through another trade in 1924. During his time in Boston, Burns came into his prime and when he came back to the Tribe had five great offensive seasons before being purchased by the Yankees for the second time in his career. Overall, his career had some interesting symmetry. His career by team looked like this; Detroit, New York, Philadelphia, Cleveland, Boston, Cleveland, New York, Philadelphia. During this long 15 year career, he spent the most seasons (7) and played the most games (757) for Cleveland.

In 1920 Burns played in just 44 games during the regular season for the Indians with Doc Johnston being the starting first baseman. In the World Series that year, he played as an equal with Johnston, each playing in five of the seven games. Burns knocked in three runs during the Series (tied for second on the team) and was among team leaders with a .300 batting average. In 1921 Burns was back behind Johnston again in the depth chart and played in 84 games, batting .361 with 21 doubles.

It wasn't until his return in 1924 that Burns really blossomed, taking over the starting job at first and knocking in 68 while hitting .310. In 1925 he was even better, knocking in 79 with 41 doubles all while raising his average to .336. For this effort he earned enough MVP votes to rank 21st in the league. George Burns hit his peak in 1926, leading the league in hits and doubles while winning the American League MVP. The race wasn't even close with Burns getting votes on 98% of ballots, destroying the second place Johnny Mostil, a centerfielder from Chicago. Not only were his 64 doubles that year enough to lead the league, they remain the Indians record for most doubles in a single season. That team was incredible when it came to legging out two base hits in general as three players had more than 40 (Tris Speaker, 52; Joe Sewell, 41). 

Burns followed up in 1927 with another 51 doubles, enough to rank in the top ten for the second time in his career. Over his career, he also ranks in the top ten in batting average in Indians history. Burns didn't play enough seasons for the Tribe to rank among the top hitters in Indians history, but is still one of the best firstbasemen. He will always be remembered as the Cleveland Indians first Most Valuable Player. George Burns died in 1978.

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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