Pitching in the all-star game on July 11 in Anaheim may have been the highlight of the five-year major league career of Montreal reliever Tim Burke, but it wasn't the most rewarding moment of his week. Eight hours after throwing two scoreless All-Star innings, Burke arrived at a hotel in Guatemala City to join his wife, Christine, and their new son, Ryan.
The Burkes had adopted the 23-month-old boy after seeing his photograph in a book from the Holt International Children's Services. Ryan, who's named for Tim's friend Ryan Walter, a forward for the Montreal Canadiens, is the second child the Burkes have gotten through the Holt agency. In December 1987 they adopted Stephanie, now 22 months, who was born in South Korea.
The Burkes decided to adopt Ryan last December. "We wanted a child who was seemingly not wanted," says Christine. Ryan was abandoned at birth and suffers from hypothyroidism, a condition that has caused him to grow slowly and that may lead to mental retardation. "We were worried about adopting a child with special needs," says Tim.
"Now we could care less," says Christine.
Tim had planned to accompany Christine to Guatemala on July 10, but four days before they were to leave, he learned that he had been named to his first All-Star team. "We talked about whether I should go with her, and Christine insisted that I play," says Tim, a 30-year-old righthander. "She said it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing."
Right after the game, Burke caught a midnight flight from Los Angeles to Guatemala City, arriving at 6:00 a.m. "Ryan didn't want anything to do with me," says Tim of his reception. Only women worked at the orphanage where Ryan had been raised.
In fact, the only man, besides Tim, that Ryan has let hold him is Expo pitcher Dennis Martinez. When Ryan first saw Martinez upon the Burkes' return to the U.S., Ryan reached out for him. "It's something about human blood, isn't it?" says Martinez. "He never saw me before, but I'm from Nicaragua, he's from Guatemala. I held him. It was touching."
Burke rejoined the Expos in Cincinnati last Thursday. The family arrived after spending 12 hours on three planes, and while Christine and Ryan went to a hotel, Tim headed for the ballpark. He got there in the third inning.
Montreal manager Buck Rodgers says he tried not to use Burke that night, considering that he had traveled more than 4,000 miles in less than two days. But in the ninth inning, with Montreal ahead 6-3, Burke came in and retired the side in order to earn his 18th save.
More adventures may lie ahead for the Burkes. When asked if they'll adopt more children, Tim says, "I want one from every country." Christine quickly corrects him: "Every continent, honey."