VICKSBURG FACTS: Vicksburg’s Ellis Burks steps up to the plate 

Published 8:00 am Friday, February 24, 2023

Did you know that Vicksburg is the birthplace of a legendary Boston Red Sox player?

Ellis Burks was born in Vicksburg on Sept. 11, 1964. At the age of 3, he and his family moved to Jackson.

While living in Jackson, Burks began playing baseball by joining sandlot games with his cousins and then moved to Fort Worth, Texas, when he was 10, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. By the time he reached his freshman year of high school, he began to get serious about baseball.

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Burks transferred to Everman High School during his senior year for its well-known baseball program. He then went to Ranger Junior College before being drafted by the Boston Red Sox in 1983. 

He was drafted as the 20th overall pick for the Red Sox, and by 1987 he became their primary center fielder. His stats included hitting .272 with 20 home runs, 94 runs scored, 57 RBI and 27 stolen bases. In his next season with the Red Sox, Burks hit .292 with 92 RBI and 25, steals which helped the team get the American League East title, according to the Society for American Baseball Research. 

In 1989, Burks missed more than 60 games due to serious injuries but bounced back in 1990 to hit .296 with 21 home runs and 89 RBI, earning his first All-Star Game selection. He was in 13th place at the American League MVP voting and received a Gold Glove award. His injuries persisted during 1991 and 1992, which then led him to become a free agent.

He eventually signed a one-year deal with the Chicago White Sox in 1993. 

The following season, it was anticipated that Burks would re-sign with the White Sox; however, he signed a deal with The Colorado Rockies. By 1996 and after a full season of good health, he was able to lead the team offensively. While with the Rockies, his .344 batting average was second in the National League and he led the league with 142 runs scored and also drove in 128 runs. Overall, he led the league with 93 extra-base hits, 392 total bases and a .639 slugging average.

Burks resigned with the Rockies for the 1997 and 1998 seasons. By 1998, Burks announced that he may not continue playing due to his serious injuries. However, he joined the San Francisco Giants in 1998.

Burks’ batting average was .306 with five home runs and eight stolen bases. In 2001, Burks signed with the Cleveland Indians, now known as the Cleveland Guardians, for three years with the expectation that he would play 100 out of 120 games each year.  

In 2004, Burks returned to the Red Sox but was only able to play in 11 games during that season. However, he continued to be supportive of his teammates throughout the season and due to his loyalty he was rewarded a World Series ring after Boston won its first championship since 1918, according to Fenway Park Diaries. 

After officially retiring from baseball as a professional player, Burks continued his baseball career with the San Francisco Giants as an instructor, scout and talent evaluator.