By TIM HAYS
For the Keizertimes
Born in Chattanooga, Tenn., Jeff Burke has been on the rough side of losing, though has also seen the bright side of patience.
Out of high school, Burke, a right handed pitcher, attended Boston College. With an opportunity to play from day one, it really was a no brainer for Burke. In Burke’s three seasons at BC, he experienced a lot of downs.
“My freshman year we went 12-40,” Burke said. “We started five freshmen in the starting nine, and it was tough. I was super excited and it ended up being the perfect fit for me. My first year sitting at 12-40, I thought to myself, ‘Is it even worth it?’”
While the first season didn’t go as planned, in fact, it was the worst season in program history, the second season was much better. The Eagles finished 22-33.
In Burke’s junior year, which would be his last college season, BC went 27-27. It was the Eagle’s first .500 or better season since 2010.
“We had a strong group of guys,” Burke said. “We strived to outwork everyone in the country. They have been building that program back for the last three years, and it was great to be a part of the progression and see them get to their first super regional in school history [in 2016].”
Burke did not escape the 2015 season without a setback. Late into his junior season, Burke would tear his UCL (ulnar collateral ligament), and required Tommy John surgery before the June Draft.
Burke was taken in the 32nd round by the San Francisco Giants, and decided to begin his professional career.
“For me it was difficult,” Burke said. “I grew really late, and my velocity arrived late into high school. When it all started to come together, I blew my arm out. It was right before the draft, so I lost all leverage. Luckily, the Giants still gave me the opportunity and gave me a chance to rehab with them.”
With a 2.82 ERA in 22-plus innings, Burke has been one of the most consistent arms out of the Volcanoes bullpen this year, and ironically thanks the surgery for his new found success.
“The rehab from Tommy John surgery has really been one of the biggest blessings in my life that I really didn’t see that happening,” Burke said. “At the time I was down, but really over the past year it has strengthen me mentally. I’ve learned how to go about my business day-to-day, and also realize how good I really have it. It was taken away from me for a time, and I have really been humbled.”
With his strength back in his arm, and the patience that paid off at BC, Burke is more than ready to see his career take off.
“I am very lucky to have the support from my family,” he said.
“Once I got out there, it was my family and the organization that I really learned from. The fact of the matter is, I have an opportunity to put a Giants jersey on, and it’s an opportunity that a lot of people don’t get. I am going to give it all I got. We don’t know where the end will be, but I’m here for now in Salem, and I look forward to playing with these guys every day.”