Burkett, Jesse Cail
- Frank J. Olmsted
Burkett, Jesse Cail (12 February 1870?–27 May 1953), baseball player, was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. His parents’ names are unknown, and little is known of his youth; Burkett never knew his actual birthdate. Some sources list it as 4 December 1868. Burkett stood 5′ 8″ inches, weighed around 150 pounds, and threw and batted left-handed. He began his professional baseball career as a pitcher and showed tremendous promise, winning 27 games at Scranton, Pennsylvania (Central League), in 1888 and 39 games at Worcester, Massachusetts (Atlantic Association), in 1889. His major league debut came the following season with the New York Giants. Control problems sent him reeling to 10 defeats in 13 decisions with a lone victory in 12 starting assignments. That was the downside. However, Burkett’s biggest break also occurred that year when Giants manager Jim Mutrie began playing him in right field between pitching turns. Burkett answered with a .309 batting average, the second best on the team. Although his fielding needed polish, his good speed and strong arm promised better defense ahead....