Ellis Burks and Tim Burke
"Tim" Burks is a pinch-hitter for Boston on the NES version of RBI. When RBI Baseball was made, Burks was a relatively unknown prospect. Most of us would assume that a pinch-hitter for Boston named Burks would be Ellis Burks. However, the RBI Baseball manual lists him as Tim Burks. Because Burks was not yet a household name, he was likely confused with Expo pitcher Tim Burke. Burke was an All-Star in 1989, and finished his career with 102 saves.
Biography of Ellis "Tim" Burks
Ellis Rena Burks was born on September 11, 1964 in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Growing up, he was often the last picked or odd-man out in sandlot games. He and his cousin would watch the others play or have a contest as to who could hit a rock farther.
Burks didn't play an organized baseball game until he was 13. When his family moved to Ft. Worth in 1977, Burks signed up for his first little league season. He made the varsity team his sophomore year at O.D. Wyatt High School. After batting .422 and leading the team through the district playoffs, he transferred to Everman High School. Burks was also an outstanding pitcher in high school, relying on his 85 mph fastball to post a 9-1 record his senior year.
Burks was not drafted out of high school; he would have to prove himself on the collegiate level first, and he continued playing baseball at Ranger Junior College. Red Sox scout Danny Doyle had followed Burks in high school, but felt that Burks wasn't ready for the pros yet. His coach knew he was ready though, and benched him during three games he knew scouts were attending so he would be able to keep Burks around for a season or two. His attempts didn't work.
On January 11 he was drafted in the 1st round (20th overall) of the 1983 amateur draft. He played his first season in Elmira, and was promoted to Winter Haven in 1984 and New Britain in 1985. In 1986, Burks hit 14 home runs and stole 31 bases, and he became one of the top prospects in the Red Sox organization. He started the 1987 season in Pawtucket and did not expect to be called up until 1988.
Burks also played Winter League... somewhere; find info.
By 1987, Tony Armas had left the team and Jim Rice & Dave Henderson were not as dependable as they had been in 1986. So, the Red Sox had to call up Burks and Greenwell. At 22, Burks made his Major League debut on April 30, 1987 going 0 for 3 and committing an error in Centerfield. He shook off the nerves and went on to hit 20 home runs and steal 27 bases that season.
Burks put up similiar numbers his second year in the Majors, but raised his RBI total from 59 to 92. In 1989, Burks played only 97 games because of a shoulder injury that would require surgery. In 1990, Burks continued to hit home runs (21) and drive in runs (89), but he stole only 9 bases while he was caught stealing 11 times. Burks would not steal 20 bases again until 1996. In 1991 and 1992 he would again have injury-plagued seasons.
A free agent after 1992, Burks left Boston for the White Sox in 1993. Burks played in Chicago for only a year, signing a 5-year contract with the Rockies after the 1993 season. In those five seasons (1994-1998), 1996 was the only year in which Burks would reach the 502 plate-appearance mark. It was his best season in Major League baseball though, as he finished 3rd in the National League MVP voting behind Mike Piazza and Ken Caminiti. Already a member of the 20/20 club with Boston, Burks reached the 30/30 milestone with 40 home runs and 32 stolen bases. He also reached career-highs with 142 runs, 211 hits, 45 doubles, 128 runs batted-in, 392 total bases, and a .344 batting average. Throughout the season, critics questioned whether or not Burks’ production was because of his ability or the thin Colorado air.
In 1998, the Rockies traded Burks to the Giants for Darryl Hamilton, Jim Stoops, and Jason Brester. Though he never had more than 400 at-bats in a season with the Giants, Burks managed to belt 31 home runs in 1999 and 24 in 2000.
He signed with the Indians as a free agent in 2001. In Cleveland, Burks had two good home run season, hitting 28 in 2001 and 32 in 2002. During Spring Training at the beginning of the 2003 season, Burks sprained his wrist. He played only 55 games that year and had season-ending elbow surgery. Noticing his trend to play 2 or 3 good seasons for a team before his production declined, the Indians failed to renew his contract in 2004, and Burks returned to Boston for his final season.
That year, Burks hit 1 home run and drove in 1 run. The one home run he hit tied a Baltimore-Boston game at 2 in the 6th inning. The game would go into extra innings, where the Orioles won 3-2 after four walks in the 13th inning. Burks was Boston’s starting designated hitter for 7 games in early April. However, he did not play a single inning between May and September, and he only appeared for one or two at-bats. He played his final game on October 2, 2004 and did not make an appearance in the Red Sox postseason that year.
- Right-handed hitter
- .272 Batting Average
- 20 Home Runs
- 888 Power Rating
- 28 Contact Rating
- 140 Speed Rating
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Awards, Honors, and League-Leading Totals
All-Star (1990 & 1996)
Gold Glove (OF) (1990)
Silver Slugger (OF) (1990 & 1996)
Highest Slugging Pct. (1996)
Most Runs (142)
Most Total Bases (1996)