Unclaimed Plaque Finds Home with Great-Nephew of Al Burris (Class of 1900)
CHESTERTOWN, MD -- A search that started with a phone call to Washington College Sports Information Director Phil Ticknor earlier this month concluded Monday morning with head baseball coach Al Streelman '69 meeting the wife of the great-nephew of former professional baseball player Alva Burton "Al" Burris (Class of 1900).
Burris, who was born in 1874 not far from Washington College in Warwick, MD, was inducted into the Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame in April. The organization had both a plaque and a citation from Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley to pass along to the Burris family, but was unable to locate any living relatives.
Donnie Davidson, a representative of the Eastern Shore Hall of Fame, was in Chestertown in early September and placed a call to Ticknor, explaining the situation and asking if the College would be interested in accepting the citation and plaque on behalf of Burris. Ticknor readily accepted the offer and less than 15 minutes later was meeting with Davidson.
"I wasn't sure if anyone here would have any better luck tracking down any of his relatives, but I thought the least I could do was turn the items over to Coach Streelman," recalls Ticknor.
Streelman hung on to the plaque and citation and contacted Peaches Hawn, the College's Assistant Director of Advancement Services, to see if she could provide any information on Burris's family. Hawn turned the search over to Lindsay Pollock '04, the College's Development Researcher.
Pollock made a breakthrough, tracking down the name and contact information of Eugene Sharp III of Milford, DE, whom she believed to be the great-nephew of Burris. Streelman contacted Sharp and verified the relationship.
Sharp's wife Becky arranged a meeting with Streelman to pick up the plaque and citation Monday morning. While at the college, Streelman also showed Mrs. Sharp Burris's Washington College Hall of Fame plaque and gave her printed copies of his Washington College Hall of Fame photos and information.
"We are delighted that we could find a home for these items with the Burris family," noted Streelman.
Al Burris played and coached baseball and football at Washington College from 1892 to 1900, introduced the game of basketball at the College, and encouraged the development of tennis at the institution. He also played professional baseball and made one pitching appearance at the Major League level for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1894. Burris went on to have a long career as a physician in the Salisbury, MD, area - a fact unknown to the Sharp family until they were contacted by Streelman and subsequently learned a little more about their accomplished relative. Burris passed away in 1938.
The Eastern Shore Baseball Hall of Fame Museum is located at Arthur W. Perdue Stadium in Salisbury. The organization, which also holds remote presentations up and down the Eastern Shore, can be contacted at 410-546-4444.