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  • Writer's pictureMaine Baseball HOF

Burke, Daniel (1994)

Burke, Daniel (94)

Daniel B. Burke was uniquely qualified to bring professional baseball back to Maine for the 1994 season and beyond.

Only Burke possessed the combination of enthusiasm, vision, desire, resources, Skill, stature, and clout needed to return minor-league baseball to Portland for the first time since the late 1940's.

Burke emerged victorious in his 1992 application for a Double-A expansion franchise, known now simply as the Portland Sea Dogs.

It is the State s first minor-league baseball team since the Maine Guides and Maine Phillies, a triple-A franchise, departed Old Orchard Beach in 1988 after five seasons there.

Burke, 65, retired earlier this year as President and CEO of Capital Cities/ABC after a remarkable career in which he gained great influence, power and respect even beyond the network television business.

Burke's connection to Maine dates back to 1954, when he began his annual summer visits to Kennebunk Beach.

He and his wife Harriet -better Known as “Bunny” -- also courted there before marriage in 1957.

They have owned their current summer home in Kennebunk for 17 years.

The Burkes Nave raised four children -- Stephen, Frank, Sarah and William -- all of whom were exposed to baseball through their father's passion.

Frank, who lives in Brunswick and operates a radio station in Bath, reports that he and his siblings have long been baseball fanatics as 9 result.

Daniel Burke recalls attending an occasional Double-A game with his own father -- while growing up in Albany, N.Y., during the Depression -among his fondest childhood memories.

Burke has never broken his bond with baseball, even while building his career. While running Capital Cities’ radio stations in Detroit in the late 1960s.

Burke attended roughly 60 Tigers games a year.

He also traveled to the team's spring training site in Florida each year, bringing along his children as well.

Even in more recent years, Burke has been known to fiddle with his AM radio dial during summer nights at Kennebunk Beach, attempting to tune in Tigers games.

Burke’s passion, knowledge and background has not been overlooked in Major League circles. His name was raised by team owners at least three times since the early 1980's as a desirable candidate for “Commissioner of Baseball,” but Burke quickly squelched such talk on each occasion.

he says he would prefer to spend his remaining summers in southern Maine, visited by his children and grandchildren, watching his own team and giving something back to a state that remains close to his heart.

He says that is why he was willing to spend a reported $3.5 million for the new franchise.

His involvement provided instant credibility for Portland's application -- even though the city's population base, climate and stadium proposal was less impressive than those of other cities vying for a team.

So it seemed fitting that during the Sea Dogs' inaugural home opener this past April -- amid introductions of players, celebrities, politicians and other team officials -- the capacity crowd of more than 6,000 saved its only standing ovation for owner Daniel B. Burke.

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