Ellis Burks

Ellis Rena Burks (born September 11, 1964) is an American former outfielder and current New England Sports Network (NESN) studio analyst and part time color commentator. Burks played in Major League Baseball for 18 seasons with five teams. He batted and threw right-handed.

Ellis Burks
Ellis Burks in 2007
Born: (1964-09-11) September 11, 1964
Vicksburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 30, 1987, for the Boston Red Sox
Last MLB appearance
October 2, 2004, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.291
Home runs352
Runs batted in1,206
Career highlights and awards

Early life

Burks was born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, but raised in Fort Worth, Texas, and attended Everman High School.[1] Burks was initially overlooked by scouts and only received a scholarship offer from Ranger Junior College after a showcase at Arlington Stadium.[2] His school lost a junior college championship to the Jay Buhner-led McLennan Community College.[3]


Selected by the Boston Red Sox in the first round (20th pick) of the 1983 Major League Baseball draft, Burks made his debut in the 1987 season as a regular center fielder at age 22, becoming the third player in Red Sox history to hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases in one season. He was selected to both the Baseball Digest and Topps "All-Rookie" teams. Defensively, Burks showed excellent range, a sure glove and a strong arm. Burks, however, was injury-prone. He had shoulder surgery in 1989, and it was the first of many setbacks for him. During the 1990 season he hit two home runs in the same inning of a game, to become the second player in Red Sox history to achieve the feat; Bill Regan was the first, in 1928.

Later, Burks suffered from bad knees and back spasms. After six seasons in Boston, and despite his injuries, he ended up leaving as a free agent and signing with the Chicago White Sox in January 1993. He surpassed expectations around him by turning in a solid, injury-free season, filling the White Sox' urgent need for a quality right fielder. He was one of the club's better performers in the playoffs, batting .304. A free agent at the end of the season, he signed a five-year contract with the Colorado Rockies (1994–98). On April 17, 1994, Burks hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 10th inning against the Montreal Expos. It was the only major league walk-off home run ever hit at Mile High Stadium.[4] His 1,000th career hit also came against the Expos, a triple in July 1995.[5]

In 1996, Burks enjoyed his best season. He led National League hitters in runs (142), slugging average (.639), total bases (392) and extra-base hits (93); was second in hits (211) and doubles (45), and fifth in home runs (40) and RBI (128). His .344 average was also second in the batting title race (behind Tony Gwynn, .353). Burks finished third in the MVP voting. He also stole 32 bases that season, marking only the second time that two players from the same team collected at least 30 home runs and 30 steals, as Colorado outfielder Dante Bichette accomplished the feat. He remains in the top ten in many offensive categories for the Rockies.[6]

While with the Rockies, Burks was part of the Blake Street Bombers that included Andrés Galarraga, Bichette, Larry Walker and Vinny Castilla. This was the heart of the Rockies' lineup that was second in the National League in home runs by team in 1994, then led the National League in home runs from 1995 to 1997.[7]

Burks was traded to the San Francisco Giants in mid-season 1998 for Darryl Hamilton and Jim Stoops. In 2000, batting fifth behind Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent, he compiled numbers of .344, 24, 96, in only 122 games and 393 at-bats. He won the 2000 Willie Mac Award for his spirit and leadership.

He was signed by the Cleveland Indians after the season. In his new role as a DH for the Indians, Burks provided consistent production in the middle-of-the-lineup, hitting .280, 28, 74 in 2001, and .301, 32, 91 in 2002. He sprained his wrist in spring training of 2003 and kept playing in 55 games until the muscles in his right hand affected his ability to swing the bat. He underwent season-ending surgery to repair nerve damage in his right elbow. The Indians did not pick up their 2004 contract option or offer him salary arbitration, and he returned to the Red Sox in 2004, playing eleven games without making the postseason roster.[8] He retired at the end of the season with a World Series ring with the team that he began his career with.

In an 18-year career, Burks was a .291 hitter with 352 home runs, 1,206 runs batted in (RBI), 1,253 runs, 2,107 hits, 402 doubles, 63 triples, 181 stolen bases and 793 walks in 2,000 games. Defensively, Burks recorded a .983 fielding percentage playing at all three outfield positions.[9]

After the 2005 season, Burks joined the Indians' front office staff as a special assistant to the general manager.

In 2021, Burks joined NESN as a studio analyst and alternate color commentator for Red Sox games.[10]

Personal life

Burks resides in Chagrin Falls, Ohio,[11] and his son Chris plays baseball for the San Francisco Giants organization. He also has three daughters, Carissa, Elisha, and Breanna.[12] He met his wife, Dori,[12] in Connecticut in 1985.[3]

He is a cousin of fellow Major League outfielder Roosevelt Brown.[13]

See also


  1. Sullivan, T.R. (November 17, 2000). "Rangers going after Burks, Velarde". Amarillo Globe-News. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. Murff, Red (1996). The Scout. Thomas Nelson Inc. ISBN 9781418560041. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. Holley, Michael (February 6, 2004). "Boston Red Sox - Burks decision a sign of times". Boston Globe. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. "Team Batting Event Finder: From 1925 to 2018, All Teams, Home Runs, Walk-off, at MileHigh Std". Baseball Reference. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  5. "Batting Event Finder — Ellis Burks: From 1987 to 2004, Hits, 607 - 1044". Baseball Reference. Retrieved July 16, 2018.
  6. "Colorado Rockies Top 10 Career Batting Leaders".
  7. "NL season-to-season totals - Baseball-Reference.com". www.baseball-reference.com. Archived from the original on 5 May 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2022.
  8. "Ellis Burks 2004 Batting Game Logs | Baseball-Reference.com".
  9. "Ellis Burks Statistics and History". Baseball Reference.com. Retrieved April 8, 2021.
  10. "NESN to add Ellis Burks, Mo Vaughn, and Kevin Youkilis to Red Sox broadcasts - the Boston Globe". The Boston Globe.
  11. Hoynes, Paul (March 2, 2009). "Cleveland Indians instructor Ellis Burks talks about the present and the past". cleveland.com. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  12. Moss, Irv (9 December 2015). "Colorado Classics: Ellis Burks has fond memories of his playing time in Denver". The Denver Post. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  13. "Coming up Roses". Vicksburg Post. April 2, 2002. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
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