KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Major League Baseball Hall of Famer George Brett will be the keynote speaker for the 2013 Tennessee Baseball Leadoff Banquet, set to take place on Thursday, January 17, at Thompson-Boling Arena.
The Vols will also welcome back former UT star and current ESPN and MLB Network analyst Chris Burke who will become the 19th inductee into the Tennessee Baseball Hall of Fame.
“I hope our fans are as excited about this banquet as I am,” Tennessee head coach Dave Serrano said. “This is going to be a great night for Tennessee baseball. I loved watching George Brett play the game and he is sure to have some great anecdotes from his days on the diamond. He always played the game the right way and is one of the best hitters of all-time.
“I am also especially pleased that we will be able to 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 be able 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 banquet will begin with a silent auction at 5 p.m., followed by dinner at 6:30 p.m. and the start of the program at 7 p.m. Individual tickets are $55, while a table for 10 will be $450. There is also an option to purchase a VIP-level ticket for which includes entry into the VIP reception with Brett in the Recruiting Lounge of Pratt Pavilion at 5 p.m., VIP parking and four vouchers to the Tennessee-Arizona State series Feb. 22-24 at Lindsey Nelson Stadium.
Tickets are available for purchase at uttix.com/baseballbanquet. For more information, contact Rachel Miller in the UT Marketing Office at (865) 974-9001.
One of the greatest hitters of all-time, Brett is one of just four players in MLB history to accumulate 3,000 hits, 300 home runs and a career .300 batting average. Following his 21-year MLB career, he was elected into the Hall of Fame in 1999 with the fifth-highest voting percentage in baseball history at 98.2 percent. That trails only Tom Seaver, Nolan Ryan, Ty Cobb and Cal Ripken, Jr.
The only player to win batting titles in three different decades, Brett’s 3,154 career hits are the most by any third baseman in Major League history and 16th all-time. He also ranks sixth with 665 career doubles, hit 317 home runs, drove in 1,596 RBIs and had a lifetime batting average of .305.
Brett spent his entire career with the Kansas City Royals who retired his number (5) in 1994. A 13-time All-Star, he won three Silver Slugger Awards, one Gold Glove, was named the 1980 American League MVP and helped lead the Royals to a World Series championship in 1985.
The Vols will also welcome Burke back to Rocky Top for this year’s banquet 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 RBIs 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 Assocation/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.
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