Burke Tabbed as New Kernels Manager

By Jeff Johnson, Reporter

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By James Steward

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Jamie Burke was asked about his memories of playing professional baseball in Cedar Rapids.

“A championship, baby,” he said. “A long season, but it turned out to be a very good season.”

Burke played in a team-high 127 games at first and third base for the 1994 Cedar Rapids Kernels, a club that got hot in the second half and won the Midwest League title. That’s the last time the local nine has won it all, though if you believe in signs, that streak will finally end this summer.

The 40-year-old Burke was announced as Kernels manager Friday. It’s the first coaching stint for the Oregon native, whose 18-year playing career ended in 2010.

He played bits and pieces of eight major league seasons as a backup catcher for the Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners, Chicago White Sox and Washington Nationals, a .277 hitter in 191 games. Burke spent last year away from the game before deciding to get back into it as an instructor.

“I took last year off to do some things with my family that I haven’t been able to do for 17 years,” Burke said. “I feel like I’ve got a master’s degree in this field. I’ve been through the ups and downs of a career, feel like I will be able to relate to my players.

“Everybody said they knew this was what I was going to do. I want to be a manager in the big leagues some day.”

Burke said he is still very good friends with former Kernels teammate Tony Moeder, who settled in Cedar Rapids after he quit playing. The rest of the Kernels 2012 field staff is Mike Eyward (hitting coach), Chris Gissell (pitching coach), Omar Uribe (trainer) and Joe Griffin (strength coach).

Eylward was last season’s hitting coach. Gissell played in the Chicago Cubs farm system and had a cup of coffee in the bigs with the Colorado Rockies.

The Kernels also announced this week they are seeking a home clubhouse manager to replace longtime clubbie Ron “Roady” Plein, who will tend to the visitor’s clubhouse this season.

The Kernels will hold their 16th-annual Hot Stove Banquet on Saturday, Jan. 28, at the Clarion Hotel and Convention Center in Cedar Rapids. The season opener is April 5 at Wisconsin, with the home opener April 9 against Clinton.

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