Former Nansemond River star Randy Burden fondly remembered

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 28, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

Last Dec. 6, Randy Burden died. On Monday afternoon, Burden’s friends and family chose to remember how he lived.

Burden’s coaches and teammates from the Nansemond River High School (NRHS) baseball team paid tribute to the young man who played third base on the 1995 and 1996 teams that finished third and second in the state, and was the first Warrior named to the All-Southeastern District and All-Tidewater First teams.


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Before his team took the field to battle Lakeland, coach Phil Braswell spoke of one of his favorite charges. &uot;We selected today because Randy always loved to play against Lakeland,&uot; said an emotional Braswell. &uot;His best year was probably his last year, when he hit over .400 and hit two home runs.&uot;

After graduating from NRHS in 1997, Burden continued his baseball career at North Carolina’s Chowan Col-lege, where he became a pitcher. &uot;The first thing I noticed about Randy was that he was so down-to-earth,&uot; said Chowan head coach Steve Flack. &uot;We don’t just try to recruit good players, but good people. He always worked hard, and he had a large impact on our program. He was the type of person that every coach wants to recruit.&uot; In Burden’s honor, Chowan now calls its bullpen, &uot;Burd Dog’s Bull Pen.&uot; Above his nickname, Burden’s name rests atop a fiery baseball.

While at Chowan, Burden majored in graphic design. When he graduated last year, he was named the Most Outstanding graduate in that field. But his artistic skills were already in evidence back at NRHS.

&uot;One day, I came up to him and asked if he’d like to put his work on our dugout,&uot; said Braswell. &uot;He said, ‘Coach, I’d love to.’&uot; Burden painted the NRHS logo that can still be seen on the dugout behind first base. After his death, member of the NRHS faculty painted &uot;In Memory of #18, Randy Burden,&uot; in the upper-left corner.

For the 2002-3 season, NRHS players have been wearing Burden’s number on their hats. At Monday’s ceremony, Burden’s former teammates presented his parents, Bud and Theresa, with his jersey, and the number was retired.

Last summer, Burden signed with the Provo (Utah) Angels, the Anaheim Angels’ Class A Pioneer League affiliate. &uot;Randy got his dream when he signed the pro contract,&uot; Braswell said. &uot;Everyone who knew him was very proud of him.&uot;

To perhaps complete the tribute, both and junior varsity and varsity Nansemond River baseball and softball teams defeated Lakeland. &uot;That ceremony really got to us,&uot; said Eric Berry, who hit his fifth home run of the season in a 15-4 varsity victory. &uot;He was looking down upon us, and we wanted to pay him his respect.&uot;

Burden never sought the spotlight, said Theresa. Sometimes, it just came to him. &uot;I don’t know if he would have liked all this fuss,&uot; she said. &uot;But I’m sure he knows about it. This just lets us know how much he was loved.&uot;