Ellis Rena Burks
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 205 lb.
- School Ranger College
- High School Everman High School
- Debut April 30, 1987
- Final Game October 2, 2004
- Born September 11, 1964 in Vicksburg, MS USA
“He’s way above average in everything... Hitting, hitting with power, throwing, running, catching the ball. Everything. And he’s a good fellow. The other day I yelled out to him, ‘Burks, I hope you never change,’ and he said, ‘I won’t change.’” - Joe Morgan, Boston Red Sox manager, to Jerome Holtzman of the Chicago Tribune, May 4, 1989
Ellis Burks made two All-Star teams and socked 352 home runs in an 18-year career.
Burks was a 1st round pick in the January 1983 draft by the Boston Red Sox and scout Danny Doyle. Coming on strong in the Sox minor league system, he made postseason hero Dave Henderson expendable and debuted as the big league center fielder to start the 1987 season. He became just the third player in Boston history to swipe 20 bags and belt 20 home runs as a rookie, earning Topps All-Star Rookie Team honors on the strength of a .272/.324/.441 line, chipping in 30 doubles and 94 runs scored. He avoided a sophomore slump (.294/.367/.491, 92 RBI, 93 runs scored) but could not escape the junior jinx, missing just a little less than half of 1989 following shoulder surgery. Burks' good range in the outfield and continued batting success (.296/.349/.486 with 21 bombs, 89 RBI and 89 runs scored) got him noticed with a 1990 All-Star Game trip and Gold Glove honors. He stumbled in 1991 and 1992 and, after a brief dalliance in free agency/subsequent one year stint with the division title winning Chicago White Sox in 1993, moved to the Colorado Rockies prior to the 1994 season.
Burks would prove to be not just a Coors Field hitter. He had a video-game-esque .322/.388/.678 line in an injury-shortened strike season, then kicked it up several hundred notches as a key component of the "Blake Street Bombers" in 1996. Finishing 3rd in the MVP vote, Ellis batted .344/.408/.639, leading the senior circuit in runs scored (142), slugging, total bases (392) and extra base hits (93) while finishing second in hits (211) and doubles (45) and fifth in home runs (40). He also swiped 32 bags, becoming, with Dante Bichette, the first (and to date only) teammates to enjoy 30-30 seasons in the same year. Ellis was strong but not in the same stratosphere the next two years, moving to the San Francisco Giants at the 1998 trading deadline. He enjoyed two more 30 home runs in his final full-time, campaigns (1999 and 2002), the latter as a designated hitter with the Cleveland Indians. He also slugged an impressive .606 in 122 games (but only 393 at bats) with the 2000 Giants. He made 11 appearances back with the Red Sox in his final season, 2004, hanging around as a spectator as the club won their first World Series in 86 years.
From 1987 to 2004, Ellis played exactly 2,000 games with an impressive career slash line of .291/.363/.510. His 352 home runs rank 93rd all-time. He scored 1,253 runs, drove in 1,206 and cracked 2,107 hits. Of all the players who have never won a postseason series, Burks holds the record for most attempts in the playoffs, playing on teams that went 0-for-6 in postseason series (he did, however, win a World Series ring for his service in 2004]). Burks had solid batting lines in the postseason, hitting .289/.364/.526 in LDS play (1995 with Colorado, 2001 with San Francisco, 2002 with Cleveland) and .273/.333/.400 in LCS play (1988 and 1990 with Boston, 1993 with the ChiSox).
During the 2004 playoff run, according to Pedro Martinez, Ellis was involved in sampling a concoction prepared ahead of several games by Manny Ramirez. Manny's mamajuana (a mixture of gin, honey, wine and medicine root) also included several 100 mg tablets of Viagra and Burks was the first to taste it. Burks seemed to enjoy it and several players joined in sampling on Ellis' confirmation that it "worked".
Burks was a 2012 inductee to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. He joined the front office of the Indians in 2005 as a special assistant to the GM. He is the cousin of Roosevelt Brown.
- 1987 Topps All-Star Rookie Team
- 2-time All-Star (1990 & 1996)
- AL Gold Glove Winner (1990)
- 2-time Silver Slugger Award Winner (1990/AL & 1996/NL)
- NL Slugging Percentage Leader (1996)
- NL Runs Scored Leader (1996)
- NL Total Bases Leader (1996)
- 20-Home Run Seasons: 9 (1987, 1990 & 1996-2002)
- 30-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1996, 1997, 1999 & 2002)
- 40-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1996)
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1996)
- 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1996)
- 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1996)
- Won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox in 2004 (he did not play in the World Series)