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Former CWS star Chris Burke shares with KSR why the College World Series is so special

Drew Franklinby:Drew Franklin06/12/24


ESPN’s Tom Hart was back as guest host of KSR on Wednesday to get Kentucky fans ready for the Wildcats’ upcoming trip to Omaha. He brought some help in the first hour. Chris Burke–a three-time college All-American and the 2001 SEC Player of the Year–called into the program to share his thoughts on Kentucky and what is ahead and Omaha.

A Louisville, Kentucky, native, Burke played his college basketball at the University of Tennessee, so he is a rival with allegiance to another CWS participant this week. Still, his expertise was an insightful addition to Wednesday’s show leading up to UK’s arrival in Omaha. Burke knows Omaha a bit himself. He was named to the All-Tournament in 2001, coming up just shy of the championship game with his Tennessee Vols.

These days, Burke is a college baseball broadcaster for ESPN and SEC Network, following a six-year career in the Majors. Astros fans think fondly of his walk-off home run in Game 4 of the NLDS.

Here’s (some of) what he had to say on Kentucky Sports Radio, beginning with an acknowledgment of his place as a Vol. “I do feel like I’m on a road trip here,” he told the KSR audience. “I’m definitely playing as a visiting team. I always liked leading off on the road, so I’m enjoying this. Let’s go.”

OK, that’s enough of the Vols. From there, Burke encouraged Big Blue Nation to make the trip to Omaha, listing his reasons for why the College World Series is special.

“It’s eight different fan bases, so I think that makes it a blast,” he explained. “You get to experience, you know, the bigness of the event with people from all different stretches of the country. This year, it’s a little more regionalized than normal, but I do think that part makes it fun and unique. The College World Series, it’s a big league environment from a grand stage standpoint with college kids, so you get the newness of young athletes experiencing the grandest stage most of them will ever play on. So I think that’s really cool, and then I just think the city of Omaha, the fact that it’s in the same place every year… You get to know it. You fall in love with it. The city really opens their arms to everybody.”

“The stories will be told forever”

It’s been over 20 years since Burke shined in his trip to Omaha. More than two decades later, he understands the significance of playing on that stage.

“The achievement of getting there as a team is something that will carry these men forever,” he said. “Kentucky, the university, does such a great job of celebrating their legends and the team that will get called back for a 10-year reunion, 20-year reunion. They’ll be able to celebrate this so much as their life unfolds.

“Again, most of the kids will never play in the big league. So you know the these pictures will hang in their offices. The stories will be told forever. So, from that perspective, it’s really cool. I also am super excited for the Kentucky fan base as a whole because, you know, for me, watching new fan bases fall in love with the sport is one of my favorite things about doing what I do… and to see the Kentucky fanbase get to experience the modern college baseball game, the journey of a great regular season, and now culminating in College World Series. It’s just a joy, especially for a kid who grew up in the great state of Kentucky.”

Hear Burke’s entire interview halfway through the first hour of today’s show with Tom Hart.

Catch the second hour and its power outage here.

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