Former Warrior becomes an Angel

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 8, 2002

Last Thursday, recent Chowan College graduate and Nansemond River High School alumnus Randy Burden got a call from a

baseball scout.

&uot;He asked, ‘Are you ready to leave?’&uot; Burden says. &uot;I just said, ‘Sure.’&uot;

Email newsletter signup

From Suffolk, Burden headed down to Charlotte to sign his contract with the Provo (Utah) Angels, an Anaheim Angels farm team in the Pioneer League. At 7:30 a.m. Saturday, he caught a plane to Provo.

&uot;I’ve been working out with the team since I got here,&uot; he said from Provo. &uot;As soon as I get my physical, hopefully today or tomorrow, I’ll do something more in-depth.&uot;

Though he was drafted as a pitcher, Burden had been a mainstay at third base during his time on the NRHS baseball field. He was a member of the team that finished second in the state in 1995, and received All-District honors in 1996, his senior year.

&uot;He was just a big, strong kid,&uot; remembers NRHS head coach Phil Braswell. &uot;He had a big uppercut; if

he got under the ball, he’d knock it over the scoreboard. He also had a cannon for an arm.&uot;

At Chowan, Burden’s coaches noticed the cannon. &uot;They saw how hard I could throw, so they moved me to pitcher,&uot; he recalls. &uot;It was kind of scary, because I’d never pitched before.&uot;

He handled it well: Burden set a school record in closings. In 2002 alone, he led the team in innings pitched (66) and strike outs (76), while holding opponents to a .196 batting average. His picture currently graces the Web site for Chowan Athletics, at For his performance, Burden was named the 2002 Male Athlete of the Year.

But baseball didn’t take up too much of Burden’s time at Chowan. He received a degree in graphic design, and was named the 2002 Outstanding Graduate in that subject.

&uot;I’d always liked drawing when I was younger,&uot; explains Burden, who painted the &uot;Nansemond River&uot; display that can be seen on the NRHS dugout. &uot;When I got to college, I realized that there really wasn’t a market for drawing pictures, so I decided to focus on graphic design.

&uot;Someday, I’d like to design freelance ads that could circulate throughout the country. During a baseball season, I’ll be spending a lot of time traveling, so I’m going to spend some of it working on my laptop. I think it will be a good source of side income.&uot;

Though his accomplishments at Chowan were remarkable, Burden had several strikes against him pertaining to major league selection. &uot;I was a 22-year-old fifth-year senior, and that can be kind of old for a new player,&uot; he says. &uot;I’d also had shoulder surgery on my pitching arm.&uot;

Fortunately, a scout called him, and told him to come to Wilmington, N.C. to try out. &uot;I didn’t have a car, because mine had broken down,&uot; said Burden. &uot;I had to call a bunch of my friends. Finally, I found a freshman catcher who took me down there.

&uot;I had asked a lot of him – to take off time from classes, the team, lots of things. So the whole time there, I was thinking, ‘Don’t make this a waste of his time. Don’t let anyone down.’&uot;

Burden didn’t; when he and his friend reached Wilmington, they performed well for scouts from Cleveland, Kansas City, and Anaheim. &uot;We went to McDonald’s afterwards, and the scouts from Cleveland and Kansas City told me that they probably wouldn’t want someone who had had surgery.&uot; Fortunately, the Angels came calling, and signed Burden to a one-year contract.

Burden still has a long way to go before he can think about taking the mound at Edison Field in Anaheim. After the Pioneer League, he’ll have to go through Single A, Double A, and Triple A ball. But a recent incident showed him how quickly those steps can be taken.

&uot;We were in Cedar Rapids, and one of our pitchers had a great game. Right after the game, a Single A team called him right in the clubhouse. The next day, we dropped him off at the airport, and he was already on the way to play for them.

&uot;That just shows that if you keep proving you can get people out, you’ll move up fast. And I think that if I throw like I can, I won’t be here long.&uot;