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Joe Burke (baseball)

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Subject: Whitey Herzog, Joseph Burke, Dan O'Brien, Sr.
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Joe Burke (baseball)

Joseph R. Burke (1924–1992) was a front office executive in American Major League Baseball who served as general manager or club president of the Kansas City Royals during the most successful period in that franchise's history.

Burke was executive vice president and general manager of the Royals from the middle of the 1974 season through October 1981. He then served as club president until his death on May 12, 1992. During his tenure, Burke was general manager of the Royals' first American League championship team, the 1980 edition, then was president of the 1985 Royals, which won the franchise's first (and so far only) World Series title. In addition to those two pennant-winners, the Royals won American League West Division championships in 1976, 1977, 1978, 1981 (second half of a split season) and 1984. In 1976, he was named Major League Executive of the Year by The Sporting News after his first division title.

Burke previously was a member of the front office of the Texas Rangers and its predecessor, the second Washington Senators franchise. He had begun his baseball career in 1948 with the Louisville Colonels of the AAA American Association, where he worked under Ed Doherty, general manager of the franchise. After rising to the post of GM of the Colonels in 1960, Burke joined the expansion Senators in 1961 as business manager, again working for Doherty, the club's first general manager. He later became the Senators' vice president and treasurer, and was retained when Bob Short purchased the club in 1968. He accompanied the Senators to Dallas-Fort Worth when the franchise relocated after the '71 season and became the Rangers' general manager in their first season in North Texas.

In June 1974, Burke became the second general manager in Royals' history. One of his first major moves in Kansas City was the hiring of Whitey Herzog as manager during the middle of the 1975 season. Herzog, who had failed dismally as the Rangers' pilot during 1973, would turn the Royals into consistent contenders in the AL West. Burke also appointed Jim Frey and Dick Howser as managers after Herzog's exit, and each man would lead Kansas City to an American League pennant (and, in Howser's case, the 1985 World Series title as well).

Burke died of lymphatic cancer in Kansas City, Kansas, at age 68.


Preceded by
Bob Short
Texas Rangers General Manager
1972 - 1973
Succeeded by
Dan O'Brien Sr.
Preceded by
Cedric Tallis
Kansas City Royals General Manager
1974 - 1981
Succeeded by
John Schuerholz
Preceded by
Kansas City Royals President
1981 - 1992
Succeeded by
Michael E. Herman
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