The Red Sox landed infielder Rick Burleson in the secondary phase of the January Draft in 1970 after the Warren High School star from the Los Angeles suburb of South Gate, California, passed on signing with the Minnesota Twins, who had taken him in the eighth round the previous June.
Burleson worked his way through the farm system until making his debut for the Red Sox in May 1974 and he locked down the shortstop position for the rest of the decade.
Though Burleson lacked the speed of a traditional leadoff hitter, it was a role he occupied during much of his time with Boston, as he was a solid contact hitter who didn’t strike out often.
Burleson was a four-time All-Star with the Red Sox and won a Gold Glove for his defensive work in 1979.
In December 1980, Burleson was traded with Butch Hobson to the California Angels in exchange for third baseman Carney Lansford, outfielder Rick Miller and reliever Mark Clear.
He became adept at lining inside pitches off the Green Monster in left field at Fenway, twice finishing in the top-10 in doubles while with the Red Sox.
In seven seasons in Boston, Burleson hit .274/.326/.688 in 1,031 games, with 38 homers and 360 RBI while scoring 514 runs and posting an OPS+ of 85.
He was 4-for-9 in Boston’s three-game sweep of the Oakland Athletics in the 1975 ALCS, with a pair of doubles, an RBI and two runs In the World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, Burleson hit .292/.33/.726 with a double and two RBI.
Burleson had one more All-Star season with the Angels in 1981 before shoulder problems marred the rest of his career. Multiple surgeries followed and he sat out the entire 1985 season with nerve damage sustained when he dislocated the joint while lifting weights, per the Society for American Baseball Research.
He tried one last comeback with the Baltimore Orioles in 1987, but was released in July.
Burleson joined the Athletics as a scout in 1989 and then as batting instructor for the major league club in 1991. He left the A’s after that season to join Hobson’s coaching staff in Boston and spent most of two seasons as third base coach.
He coached with the Angels for a couple of seasons and thenbecame a minor league manager in the Seattle Mariners organization in 1997. He joined the Los Angeles Dodgers organization in 1999 and later managed in Triple-A with the Louisville River Bats in 2003-04.