The Obit For Johnny Buzhardt

Johnny Buzhardt 1936 ~ 2008

Ex-Cubs, White Sox pitcher Johnny Buzhardt dies

By Bob Vanderberg | Tribune reporter
June 18, 2008

Johnny Buzhardt, a right-handed pitcher who made his major-league debut with the Cubs but whose best years were with the White Sox, died Sunday at his home in Prosperity, S.C. He was 71.

Buzhardt, perhaps best known for his uncanny success against the Yankees, suffered a stroke several years ago and had been in declining health, according to the McSwain-Evans Funeral Home in Prosperity.

"John had been confined to a wheelchair for quite some time," former Sox teammate Gary Peters said Tuesday from Sarasota, Fla. "This is sad news. John was a nice guy, a good ol' country boy. Easy to get to know, easy to get along with."

Buzhardt spent 10 full seasons in the big leagues, breaking in as a September call-up with the 1958 Cubs, for whom he was 3-0 with a 1.85 earned-run average. Two of the victories were successive five-hitters against the Dodgers. After a 4-5 year with the Cubs, mostly in relief, he went to the Phillies in a trade for center fielder Richie Ashburn.

With the Phillies, Buzhardt became a full-time starter—and big-time loser as the 1960 and 1961 Phils were among the worst teams in baseball history (the '61 team lost 23 straight). In fact, Buzhardt was 5-16 in '60 and had a decent ERA of 3.86. After Buzhardt went 6-18 the next year, the White Sox obtained him and third baseman Charlie Smith from the Phillies in exchange for first baseman Roy Sievers.

Soon he began winning games instead of losing them, particularly the ones with the Yankees. He beat the World Series champions 3-1 on April 24, 1962, in New York and blanked them 1-0 nine days later in Chicago. By the time the Sox had sold him to Baltimore in 1967, Buzhardt's record against the Yankees stood at 7-0.

"They were the type of ballclub that wanted to hit the long ball," he recalled in an interview years later. "And I had a fastball that would sink. Occasionally, I could get the curveball over the plate, and they were probably just a little bit anxious. That's the only thing I can think of because I wasn't overpowering.

"But it wasn't easy. Yeah, I beat 'em seven times, but our team beat 'em seven times while I was pitching."

On a club whose rotation included such standouts as Peters, Juan Pizarro and Joe Horlen, Buzhardt was never a big winner: He was 8-12 in 1962, 9-4 in an injury-shortened 1963, 10-8 in '64 and 13-8 in '65 before falling to 6-11 the next season.

Buzhardt's final season was with Houston in 1968, when he was primarily used as a reliever. He retired with a 71-96 won-lost record and a career ERA of 3.66.

He leaves a wife, two sons and a daughter.

John William "Johnny" Buzhardt

Published in The State on 6/16/2008.

PROSPERITY - John William “Johnny” Buzhardt, 71, died Sunday, June 15, 2008, at his residence.

Born August 17, 1936, in Prosperity, he was a son of the late Leland V. and Eula Wicker Buzhardt. Mr. Buzhardt was a major league baseball player from 1958-1968. During his career he played for the Chicago Cubs, the Philadelphia Phillies, the Chicago White Sox, the Baltimore Orioles and the Houston Astros. He played one year in Cuba in the winter league with the Havana Reds. Over his pitching career he held a 7 and 1 record against the New York Yankees.

Mr. Buzhardt had retired from Carolina Eastman. He was a member of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church where he was a former Church Council member. He was a charter member of the Mid-Carolina Country Club.

Surviving are his wife, Jane Hawkins Buzhardt; sons, Dr. Rick Buzhardt and wife Melissa of Newberry, Allan Buzhardt and wife Jo of Rock Hill; a daughter, Donna Buzhardt of Prosperity; sisters, Lurleen Seybt and her husband Billy of Little Mountain and Sadie Morris of Prosperity; grandchildren, Bramlett Drew and husband Nick, Jake Buzhardt, Rachel Buzhardt and Leland Buzhardt; great-grandchildren, Wyatt and Emma Jane Drew; many nieces and nephews and cherished friends including Moses Wise, Stevie Lawrence and Greg Mattox

Services will be held at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, June 17, 2008, at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church by the Rev. Arden Hallman. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. Visitation will be Monday from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at McSwain-Evans Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to St. Luke’s Lutheran Church Fellowship Hall Fund, 4056 St. Luke’s Church Road, Prosperity, SC 29127.