06/06/08 9:13 PM ET
Burriss' return home is a dream
Rookie grew up 10 minutes from spot of Nationals Park
By Jeff Seidel / Special to MLB.com
Burriss grew up in Washington and played baseball for local powerhouse Wilson High. There was no professional baseball team in the District during his childhood years, but the Nationals came to town in 2005, and Burriss made his first trip home as a Major League player on Friday when the Giants opened a four-game series at Nationals Park.
"It means a lot," Burriss said. "To be in my backyard, and to be here right where I grew up playing Little League, it means a whole bunch. Just being here is big enough [and] to have a Major League uniform on and to be out here where I'm from is big."
Burriss is a 23-year-old rookie who grew up about 10 minutes away from Nationals Park. The 2003 Wilson High graduate is the first person from the D.C. public school system to make the Major Leagues since 1970 and the first to get a hit in 38 years .
The infielder said just being able to come back to his hometown and put on a uniform was the culmination of a lot of hard work -- and it was one reason he couldn't stop smiling.
"I will have a lot of supporters back there to come see me play," Burriss said. "It took a lot of hard work, and it took a lot of people involved. It wasn't just me. A lot of coaches and a lot of family and friends got involved in my coming up in baseball.
Burriss began playing baseball in elementary school and kept on going after Wilson, becoming a solid player at Kent State, where he was named the 2006 Mid-American Conference Player of the Year.
The Giants took him with the sandwich pick (33rd overall) in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. He quickly worked his way up through the Minors, playing at Class A last year, bypassing Double-A and jumping right to Triple-A this season before the Giants purchased his contract from Fresno on April 20.
He's gotten off to a good start so far, batting .254 with no homers and six RBIs. Burriss has made 13 starts at shortstop and four at second base.
The rookie wasn't in the lineup for Friday's game with the Nationals, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy gave a small smile when asked when the Washington native might see some action.
"He'll get a start here," Bochy said. "I know he's excited to be here. He'll get a start. I don't know when or how many, but he'll get some playing time here."
There's plenty of people who want to see Burriss get that playing time. Burriss smiled and said he didn't want to say exactly how many tickets he got for this game, but eventually said it was in the area of 100.
Burriss said that he went to see a lot of Orioles and Bowie Baysox (Baltimore's Double-A farm club) games while growing up. He said that basketball and football are so popular in the District that kids don't play as much baseball.
But Burriss said that children who live in his hometown might look at him and realize it's possible to make your dreams come true, a picture that could be even clearer with a new stadium for fans to visit..
"Hopefully, kids can understand that with facilities like [Nationals Park], you can come out to actually see a stadium and see that they can play one day on a field like this," he said. "So maybe they might want to get involved."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.