Dec. 16, 2013
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee baseball program will welcome back former Vol standout, Major Leaguer and current ESPN analyst Chris Burke for the inaugural Tennessee Baseball Leadoff BBQ, set to take place on Thursday, January 16, at Thompson-Boling Arena.
John Wilkerson, "The Voice of Tennessee Baseball," will emcee the event, which will feature head coach Dave Serrano and the 2014 baseball team in an informal and laidback setting. The Vols will also officially induct Burke as the 19th member of the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame.
"This will be a great evening for our team, alumni and fans of Tennessee baseball," said Serrano. "My hope is for many people to come out, meet our team and enjoy a special night with the Vols.
"I am also especially pleased that we will be able to finally honor Chris Burke, who has meant so much to this program. He has energy and passion for the Orange and White oozing out of every pore and it will be special to honor him in front of his family, friends and former teammates. He helped put Tennessee on the map and we are very happy to have him back for this honor."
The preseason event gives fans and alumni a chance to show their support of the team as it kicks off the 2014 season with an enjoyable evening. In addition to the Burke induction, the night will feature a catered BBQ meal, a post-event autograph session and attendees will have the opportunity to meet and mingle with the team and coaching staff.
Doors will open at 6 p.m. ET and all tickets are available for purchase for just $14 at UTTix.com. For more information, contact the ticket office at (865) 656-1200. Parking will be available in the G10 parking lot.
Ticket office hours are 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday. The ticket office will be closed Saturday, Dec. 21 through Sunday, Dec. 29, will reopen for Monday, Dec. 30 and then be closed Dec. 31 and Jan. 1.
After last year's banquet cancellation, the Vols will welcome Burke back to Rocky Top for this year's BBQ as the 19th inductee in the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame.
A three-year letter winner for the Big Orange from 1999-2001, Burke was a two-time All-SEC selection and two-time All-American while rewriting both Tennessee's single-season and career record books. He established six season marks and eight career standards and was the first Vol to ever hit for the cycle, doing so against Vanderbilt on May 11, 2001.
In 2001, Burke put together one of the best seasons ever by a UT player, becoming just the third Vol to be named the Southeastern Conference Player of the Year as he was bestowed the honor unanimously by the league coaches after hitting .435 with 20 home runs and 60 RBI while leading the Vols to the College World Series.
The consensus All-American garnered first-team honors from Baseball America, Baseball Weekly, Louisville Slugger/Collegiate Baseball, the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association and the American Baseball Coaches Association/Rawlings. Burke was also a finalist for National Player of the Year honors as well as being named the NCBWA District III Player of the Year and selected for the ABCA/Rawlings All-South Region Team.
In leading the Vols to their third trip to Omaha, Burke was named to the all-tournament teams at the College World Series, NCAA Regional and the SEC Tournament. He was the only player in the SEC to hit better than .400 in 2001 and led the conference in eight different categories while ranking in the top 10 in four others.
Burke, who played both shortstop and second base at UT, left Knoxville as the No. 10 overall pick in the first round of the 2001 MLB Draft by the Houston Astros. He played six seasons in the Major Leagues before retiring in 2010. The highlight of his professional career came in the fourth game of the 2005 National League Division Series as he hit a series-winning, walk-off home run in the 18th inning against the Atlanta Braves.