The wave of 2008 Phillies are starting to join the Wall of Fame.
Last season, it was Charlie Manuel. This season, it is Pat Burrell.
Burrell is just the first of many players from the 2008 Phillies – some whose time must wait until their playing careers are complete – that will likely be enshrined as legends on the Wall of Fame.
What makes Burrell’s induction so special is that he was the first piece in place of the team that would eventually claim a World Series title, the second in franchise history.
Burrell was selected with the first overall pick in 1998 and completed the trip to the majors in just two years. On May 24, 2000, Burrell made his major league debut for the Phillies.
Burrell’s early career featured some ups and downs. After a strong rookie season saw him hit .260 with 18 home runs and 79 RBI, he posted a career year in 2002, hitting .282 with 37 home runs and 116 RBI.
The following season, Burrell hit a dismal .209 with 21 home runs and 64 RBI.
Burrell started to return to form in 2004, though he only played 124 games, the fewest of any season with the Phillies. In 2005, he posted another strong season in 2005, hitting .281 with 32 home runs and 117 RBI.
His final two seasons with the team may have been the most memorable. Although they were not his best statistically, they rank among his best seasons as the Phillies finally made the playoffs for the first time since 1993 in 2007 and won the World Series in 2008.
Burrell hit .256 with 30 home runs and 97 RBI in 2007 and hit .250 with 33 home runs and 86 RBI in 2008.
In the 2008 World Series run, Burrell had plenty of memorable moments. He homered twice in the deciding Game 4 of the NLDS against the Brewers. In Game 1 of the NLCS against the Dodgers, Burrell belted the go-ahead and eventual winning home run.
In the deciding Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, Burrell led off the seventh inning with a double. He was removed for a pinch-runner, Eric Bruntlett, who would come around to score the winning run.
Burrell’s career with the Phillies came to an end after the 2008 season, as he signed with the Tampa Bay Rays.
In his Phillies career, Burrell hit .257 with 1,166 hits, 251 home runs and 827 RBI.
After a down 2009 season, Burrell spent just 24 games with the Rays before going to the San Francisco Giants, where he would win another World Series ring in 2010. Burrell’s final season was with the Giants in 2011.
Burrell would return to the Phillies on a one-day contract to retire with the team that drafted him on May 19, 2012.
In his post-playing career, Burrell has been a scout with the Giants organization.
Burrell was among the veterans of the 2008 team, having played in parts of nine seasons with the Phillies. On Friday night, he is the first of those players to take his place among the Phillies legends.
Burrell was a Phillies legend in that right. He was a likeable guy who overcame the adversity and struggles of the early part of his career to become one of the best players on the roster year after year. He was consistently a home-run threat, hitting at least 20 home runs in his last eight seasons with the Phillies.
As the team neared the ultimate goal, his emotion and desire to win was noticeable. He was an energetic player that played with that emotion and desire all the way through his Phillies career.
In a week when many fans are bidding a fond farewell to Cole Hamels, the MVP of the World Series in 2008, it should be noted how Burrell got a fitting send-off of his own in 2008, when he led the Phillies World Championship parade.
It is one of the images of this Phillies legend that will be etched in the history of the franchise forever. Burrell now gets to join the images of his contributions to that history with a plaque on the Wall of Fame.
Kevin Durso is editorial assistant for Philliedelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.