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Alva Burris

Class of 1900

Alva was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1981. His citation is copied below:

Alva Burton Burris began a new epoch in athletics when he arrived in 1892.

Before then, baseball was the main, if not the only, form of athletic activity at Washington College. Games were played against local organizations, but the college scheduled no intercollegiate contests.

Burris, a native of Cecil County, was invited to attend Washington College because he was a fine pitcher. Wanting to further his education as well as to play baseball, he accepted. More than a talented athlete, he was a born leader of men. As a consequence, he was soon asked to become director of physical education, a post he held until 1905.

From 1892 to 1900, Burris not only played on the baseball and football teams, he coached them as well. Three of his baseball players later entered the major leagues. In 1894, Burris, while in college, pitched a game for Philadelphia against Baltimore.

In 1897 Burris introduced the game of basketball to the college and encouraged the development of tennis. He also introduced gymnastics and staged many exhibitions which were popular with participants as well as spectators. For commencement week, he inaugurated field games which were so popular that they drew participants from throughout the state. Burris was highly regarded by the townspeople, and they supported his desire to erect the first gymnasium on campus.

Burris resigned from Washington College to enter Hahneman Medical College, where he earned his medical degree in 1909. Until he retired in 1938 he practiced medicine in Salisbury, Maryland, and served for many years as superintendent of Pine Bluff Sanitarium. He continued to instruct youngsters in baseball, football and tennis while practicing medicine. For his many contributions to young and old alike, Salisbury honored him with its highest citizenship award before his death in 1938.

INDUCTED posthumously into the Athletic Hall of Fame on October 9, 1981.