In Memoriam Ernest Burke

born 6/26/1924
died 1/31/2004

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Picture of Ernest BurkeErnest Burke became widely known throughout the American sports scene, particularly in the Maryland region, for his enthusiasm and passion and strength. Before he became a professional athlete, Ernest Burke served our nation as one the first black Marines who fought in WWII in the Pacific. After receiving an honorable discharge from the service, he played baseball for the Negro League Baltimore Elite Giants from 1946-1949. As the Negro Leagues declined from the desegregation of the white Major Leagues, Burke wound up his baseball career in the Canadian Provincial League hitting. 308 and .258 with a pitching record of 15-3 and 8-8. He then played fullback in semi-pro football, and later took up tennis, becoming a professional tennis instructor. In recent years, he kept a very busy schedule as an invited lecturer at elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, universities and community organizations. A popular speaker, Burke never passed an opportunity to share his powerful message with children, urging them to stay off drugs and pick up sports.

Ernest Burke was the keynote speaker at the Smithsonian Institute's 50th anniversary celebration of Jackie Robinson's "Breaking the Color Barrier in Baseball". He is the only non-Ripken player featured in the Cal Ripken Museum. His showcase was installed there on November 7, 1998.

Picture of Ernest Burke One of his most recent significant awards came this Fall 2003 when the Sports Boosters of Maryland established the Ernest Burke scholarship. The recommended method to pay tribute to the memory of Ernest Burke is a donation to the Ernest Burke Scholarship Fund. Contact Eddie Wingrat, President of the Sports Boosters of Maryland, phone: 410-440-4443; Email: .

He is survived by his wife Sandy and his daughter Valerie who has herself recently retired from the Marine Corps.

Ernest Burke served as an active member on the board of the Negro Leagues Baseball Players Association (NLBPA) for the past 10 years. The board of the NLBPA has suffered a great loss with his passing, and his contributions and energy to our mutual goals will be sorely missed, not to mention the love and generosity he showered on children. Those meetings will never be the same. All of us on the board at the NLBPA, including Wilmer Fields, Stanley Glenn, Mahlon Duckett, Bill Cash, Bert Simmons, Bert Orlitzky, Charles Winner and Bob Hieronimus, will miss him forever.

If you want to learn more about brother Ernest Burke and his illustrious career, go to our website, We love you Ernie!

Bob Hieronimus
Owings Mills, MD

Robert R. Hieronimus, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 648
Owings Mills, MD 21117
Phone: 410-356-6216

P.S. See the Washington Post obit 2/3/04

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