New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Category Archives: B

Steve Burtt


Steve Burtt (College basketball.  Born, New York, NY, Nov. 5, 1962.)  A sharp-shooting 6’2” guard from Charles Evans Hughes H.S. in New York, Steven Dwayne Burtt set a career scoring record at Iona.  Burtt tallied 2,534 points in 121 games (1980-84) for the Gaels and was the leader in career points for the school at his graduation.  He had 720 points (23.2 p.p.g) as a junior in 1982-83 and 749 (24.2) as a senior.  Burtt was a second-round pick by Golden State in the 1984 N.B.A. draft.  He had a sporadic pro career that lasted nearly a decade, including stops with four N.B.A. teams (101 games total) until 1993.  His son, also named Steve, starred at Iona (2002-06).

Leroy Burrell


Leroy Burrell (Track and field.  Born, Philadelphia, PA, Feb.21, 1967.)  A top sprinter from the University of Houston, LeRoy Burrell won The Athletics Congress national indoor title in the 55-meter sprint (6.15 seconds) at the Garden in 1989 and the same event at the Millrose Games (6.11) in 1990.  Burrell won the T.A.C. 100 meters in 1991 in a then world-record 9.90.  He finished second in 6.55 in the Millrose 60 meters to Andre Cason (6.52) in 1992, the same year Burrell won gold at the Olympic Games on the U.S. 400-meter relay team.

Pat Burns


Pat Burns (Hockey.  Born, St.-Henri, P.Q., Apr. 4, 1952; died, Sherbrooke, P.Q., Nov. 19, 2010.)  A former Montreal police officer, Pat Burns became an N.H.L. head coach in 1988 and coached the Devils to their third Stanley Cup victory in 2003.  Burns became head coach of the Devils in July 2002, succeeding Kevin Constantine.  His first season, he led the Devils to a 108-point regular season and then to a seven-game victory over Anaheim in the Cup final.  On Apr. 18, 2004, at the end of his second season with New Jersey and after the Devils’ first-round elimination by Philadelphia in the playoffs, Burns announced that he had colon cancer.  He was to sit out the start of the 2004-05 season to undergo treatment but a lockout canceled the season.  On July 9, 2004, Burns had surgery to remove a malignant tumor.  By April 2005 he was declared cancer-free and intended to resume coaching.  But on July 8, the club announced that Burns was suffering from another cancer and was forced to retire.  He was 89-53-22 in his two seasons with the Devils.  Burns’ coaching career began with Montreal (1988-92).  He also coached Toronto (1992-96) and Boston (1997-99) before taking over the Devils.  Burns coached 1,019 N.H.L. regular season games (501-367-151).

George Burns


George Burns (Baseball.  Born, St. Johnsville, NY, Nov. 24, 1889; died, Gloversville, NY, Aug. 15, 1966.)  A frequent leadoff man and regular left fielder, George Joseph Burns spent most of 11 seasons (1911-21) with the Giants.  Burns led the N.L. in runs scored five times (1914, 1916-17, 1919-20), twice in stolen bases (1914, 1919) with a high of 62 in 1914, and four times in walks.  From 1913-21, he averaged over 150 games a season and was a regular on three pennant winners (1913, 1917, 1921).  Burns and $100,000 went to Cincinnati Dec. 6, 1921, for third baseman Heinie Groh.  He spent three years with Cincinnati and another with the Phillies (1925) before becoming a minor league manager.  The smallish (5’7”) righthanded hitter batted .287 in 1,853 major league games with 383 stolen bases.  Burns returned to the Giants as a coach in 1931.

Ken Burkhart


Ken Burkhart (Baseball.  Born, Knoxville, TN, Nov. 18, 1916; died, Knoxville, TN, Dec. 29, 2004.)  A major league pitcher with the Cardinals and Reds (1945-49), Kenneth William Burkhart was a National League ironman umpire.  Burkhart worked his entire 17-season career (1957-73) without missing a day.  He became the center of controversy during the 1970 World Series when he and Baltimore catcher Elrod Hendricks became entangled on a play at the plate in the sixth inning of Game 1.  Burkhart called the Reds’ Bernie Carbo out, when, in fact, Hendricks had tagged him with an empty glove.  Burkhart had worked the 1962 and 1964 Series without incident.

Philip J. Burke


Philip J. Burke (Public relations.  Born, Yonkers, NY, Jan. 11, 1935; died, Millville, DE, Aug. 23, 2000.)  A Fordham graduate who became Columbia’s sports information director, Philip John Burke was sports editor of the Sunday Sun of Teaneck, N.J., from 1958-60.  Burke was with Columbia for over four years (1960-64) before joining the public relations staff of the Rangers.  In 1966, he moved to Roosevelt Raceway.  Burke returned to the Garden in 1967 to assist in publicizing the opening of the new building at Penn Station, which took place Feb. 11, 1968.  In later years, he worked for the Bicycle Manufacturers Association, a Washington, D.C., trade group, was a radio talk show host and wrote sports for weekly newspapers.  Burke’s father was with The New York Times for 42 years, his younger brother became chief of police in Teaneck, N.J., and his son, Sean, was associated with The Washington Post.

Philip E. Burke


Philip E. Burke (Sportswriter.  Born, Yonkers, NY, May 28, 1907; died, Falls Church, VA, May 1, 1985.)  In 1927, Philip Edmund Burke became the secretary to Bernard St.J. Thompson, the sports editor of The New York Times.  Burke became assistant to the sports editor in 1931.  When he retired in 1969, he had worked under Thompson, Ray Kelly (1937-58), and Jim Roach.  Burke handled correspondent accounts and assignments as well as staff communication and administrative duties.

Michael Burke


Michael Burke (Executive.  Born, Enfield, CT, June 8, 1916; died, Galway, Ireland, Feb. 5, 1987.)  One of the most colorful characters in New York sports in the 1960s and 1970s, Edward Michael Burke was president of both the Yankees (1966-73) and Madison Square Garden (1973-81).  Burke spent nearly a third of his life in Europe for a variety of reasons:  as a child when his family moved to Ireland for several years; during his World War II service in the O.S.S. (forerunner of the C.I.A.), while working for the U.S. State Department in the early 1950s; and again in retirement in Ireland.  In between, he was a two-time football letter winner at Pennsylvania (1937-38), chief executive of Ringling Bros., Barnum & Bailey Circus (1954-56), and an executive at CBS Television (1957-66).  During his early years at CBS, Burke was based in London, but he returned to the U.S. in 1962.  Two years later, he was instrumental in persuading the network to buy control of the Yankees from Dan Topping and Del Webb.  When CBS bought the remaining 20% in 1966, Burke became president of the team, succeeding Topping.  On his watch, the team floundered, but he became a highly visible presence, often watching games from a box seat behind the Yankees dugout and signing autographs.  He also had the Stadium refurbished, turning it from traditional green to blue and white.  Burke negotiated the deal with the Lindsay administration that led to the Stadium’s two-year renovation (1974-75) at city expense.  But after the syndicate led by George Steinbrenner bought the team, Burke left in 1973.  Later that year, he was hired by Gulf + Western, owner of the Garden, as the arena’s president.  Burke’s years at the Garden were relatively uneventful, though he did promote the Garden’s final ballpark fight, when Muhammad Ali decisioned Ken Norton at the new Stadium (Sept. 28, 1976), as well as the first Ali-Frazier rematch, at the Garden (Jan. 28, 1974).  There were those who thought Burke, with his stylish hair and English suits, more style than substance.

Don Burke


Don Burke (Sportswriter.  Born, The Bronx, NY, Jan. 29, 1956.)  Donald Brendan Burke has covered baseball and basketball for two major New Jersey newspapers.  Burke started his career in Nov. 1981 with the Milwaukee Journal and then moved to ABC-TV Sports in Sept. 1988.  He went back to Milwaukee as a sportswriter for the Sentinel for seven months in 1989 but joined The Record of Hackensack that December.  In Oct. 1992, Burke went to The Star-Ledger of Newark, where he covered the Yankees for four years and the Nets for four more before shifting to college basketball.  He returned to the baseball beat in 2003, covering mainly the Yankees, then moved to the Mets.

Henry P. Burchell


Henry P. Burchell (Sports editor.  Born, New York, NY, Aug. 7, 1875; died, Atlantic Ocean, north of Norfolk, Va., Jan. 17, 1924.)  Sports editor of The New York Times for nearly 10 years, Henry Phillip Burchell was abruptly dismissed Dec. 13, 1915, amid rumors of travel expense irregularities.  No cause for Burchell’s departure was ever officially made public.  He also lost his position as editor of Spalding’s tennis annual.  Burchell, a Penn man, resurfaced July 1, 1921, as the secretary of the new State Athletic Commission and soon rose to deputy commissioner under William Muldoon.  He resigned suddenly, along with his successor as commission secretary, William Nagel, on June 30, 1923.  During Burchell’s tenure at The Times, the paper first began to take sports seriously, expanding its horizons considerably to match the thoroughness other endeavors received, a process that accelerated under his successor, Bernard Thompson.  Burchell disappeared from the Old Dominion Line steamer Jefferson while en route to Norfolk, Va., an apparent suicide.

About This Dictionary

The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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