Burke was 8-1 with a 1.05 ERA for the Rams, who won their second straight state Non-Public A title. Any ardent local baseball follower would have to consider this team one of the five best in South Jersey history.
"It absolutely remains special," Burke said in the Mets clubhouse after Thursday's 2-1 loss to the San Diego Padres at Citi Field.
Burke says he still keeps up with some of his old teammates, including catcher Mike Rucci, who is in his first year as Gloucester Catholic's coach.
"It's fun when we all get together and talk about what we used to do and how we used to beat up on those teams," Burke said. "It was a lot of fun."
After all these years, Burke still cringes at the one blemish on the record, a 3-2 defeat against eventual state Group 4 champion Steinert.
The Rams lost, surrendering two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"That was so heartbreaking," Burke said. "We had it, and the next thing you know, the game was over."
Steinert trailed, 2-1, in the seventh with a man on first and no one out when the winning play occurred - a sacrifice bunt. The Rams committed two errors on the bunt, and the batter ended up scoring the winning run.
"I will never forget that," Burke said.
Burke, a Duke graduate, says he competed in college against one of the members of the Steinert team, Mike Rogers (North Carolina State), the winning pitcher that night. The two have talked about the details of the game.
"That game broke us," Burke said.
But not for long.
The Rams finished strong, winning their final 14 games. In addition to Burke, the other Inquirer first-team all-South Jersey players were second baseman Anthony Aquilino (.500), centerfielder Matt Ryan (.545, 66 runs scored) and pitcher-third baseman Mark Michael (6-0, 1.46).
The team was coached by Dennis Barth, who played on the 1980 Gloucester Catholic squad that went 24-0 and is considered by many the best ever in South Jersey.
The 2000 team wasn't far behind, if at all, and the good feeling from being part of that powerhouse has never left players such as Burke, regardless of how much success they enjoyed afterward.
Contact Marc Narducci