29 Dec

totally random, vol. 4

Today’s subject: Ellis Burks. Burks, born in Vicksburg in 1964, put up in 1996 what is arguably the greatest single season by any Mississippi-born player. As a member of the ball-bashing Colorado Rockies, Burks, an outfielder, hit .344 with 40 home runs and 128 RBIs along with 142 runs, 45 doubles, 8 triples, 32 stolen bases and a .639 slugging percentage that led the National League. He could have, maybe should have, won the MVP award. The 20th overall pick (out of a Texas junior college) by Boston in 1983, Burks made the big leagues in 1987. Over an 18-year career that was mottled by various injuries, he hit .291 with 352 homers and 1,206 RBIs. He was on the Hall of Fame ballot last year for the first time but didn’t get enough votes to stay on. Not a huge surprise. As good as his numbers are, Burks was never really regarded as one of the greats of his time. (That’s also one of the issues dogging ex-Mississippi State star Rafael Palmeiro, eligible for the Hall this year.) Burks’ numbers do, however, rank with the best of any Mississippian to play the game, which is worth celebrating.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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