Mr. Ernest Burke
Born: June 26, 1924
Ernest Burke was born in Harve de Grace, Maryland on June 26, 1924. Both his mother and father died when Ernest was very young and, from the age of 9, he was raised by a French Canadian family in Iberville, Canada. The first sport Ernest learned was skiing.
He returned to the United States to enlist in World War II. Ernest was one of the Corps' first black Marines and fought in WWII in the Pacific. He earned a medal as a Sharp Shooter. His honorable discharge papers include the commander's description of Ernest as possessing "excellent character". (Note: His daughter, Valerie, recently retired from the Corps after 20 years of service.) It was as a Marine that Ernest first began playing baseball.
After receiving an honorable discharge, he played with the Baltimore Elite Giants from 1946 to 1949. As a pitcher, he had a 4-1 season record. In the off-seasons, Ernest played ball in South America.
In 1949, he joined the Pough-Kingston team in the Western Leagure as a pitcher, outfielder and third baseman where he batted .253. Ernest then spent two years with St Jean in the Canadian Provincial League where he hit .308 and .258, had a pitching record of 15-3 and 8-8, and a 4.33 ERA.
Ernest played semi-pro football as a fullback. He also worked for 20 years as a heavy equipment tester for Knox Construction in Baltimore. He took early retirement from Knox to devote time to his then newborn grandson, Jamal, who, as an infant, was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. In his 50s, Ernest took up the sport of tennis and eventually became a professional tennis instructor. He has taught tennis at many clubs in the Baltimore area.
Read a wonderful paper about Ernest Burke, written by Scott Owens, Loyola College.
Read about a Howard County (Maryland) Youth Baseball Team’s visit with Mr. Burke.
Read about Mr. Burke appearance at the Babe Ruth Birthplace Museum
Ernest Burke: A Small Sampling of Honors and Awards Received
Ernest Burke: Featured in Numerous TV, Newspaper and Magazine Articles Including
Ernest Burke: Quote
When asked about his career highlights, Ernest said, "I had many exciting moments in my baseball career. However, what I love the most are the hundreds of letters I've received from young people telling me how much they appreciated learning about the Negro Leagues".