Today In History – Ellis Burks Returns To Boston

05 February 2004 – Ellis Burks returns to the team where he started his major league career and signs a one-year deal with Boston for the 2004 season. As a rookie in 1987, Burks combined speed and power to earn him a starting role as the everyday centerfield with the Red Sox and became just the third 20-20 player in team history (20 home runs, 20 steals in one season). However, despite continued success over the next five seasons, sporadic injuries that kept him out of the lineup for short stretches and concerns for his long-term health eventually led Boston to let him leave via free agency after the 1992 season. When healthy, Burks produced and enjoyed success in his later career with Colorado, San Francisco, and Cleveland, earning MVP considerations with the Rockies in 1996 with 40 home runs, 128 RBI, 142 runs scored, 32 stolen bases, and a batting .344 average. Although injuries continued to haunt him, relegating him to designated hitting duties for the final four years of his career, Burks continued to produce, even cracking another 32 home runs and driving in 91 RBI while batting .301 in 2002 at the age of 37.

Following his release from Cleveland after the 2003 season, Burks looked for an opportunity to play at least one more season and took Boston’s offer of $750,000 to platoon as the designated hitter. Unfortunately, his season was cut short in late April as knee surgery cost him all but 11 games during Boston’s championship run. He did make two appearances late in the season, the first being his final Fenway Park at-bat on 23 September when he appeared as a pinch hitter and produced a single, much to the delight of the home crowd. In his final appearance, the first game of a doubleheader on 02 October in Baltimore, he started as the designated hitter and went 1-for-2 with a run scored before getting lifted in favor of rookie Kevin Youkilis, Burk’s knee sore from his trip around the bases one last time. That last game also happened to be the 2,000th of his career and, less than a month later, the veteran would have the dubious honor of carrying the World Series trophy off the plane in Boston after the team captured its first title in 86 years, the only time that Burks was part of a championship team.

Author: fenfan

Lifelong Boston Red Sox fan, weekend web developer, and badly in need of sleep