Burns getting inducted
La Grande AD to be enshrined in EOU athletic hall
Bill Burns has been a staple in La Grande athletics for more than 40 years. On Saturday, Burns will receive perhaps his greatest honor during that time.
Burns will be inducted into the Eastern Oregon University Athletics Hall of Fame along with Nicole Christian.
Burns is being inducted for his role on the baseball team in the early 1970s, and Christian will be inducted for softball.
“It’s a nice honor,” Burns said. “It’s probably one of the highest honors you can get being just nominated for the hall of fame. To be inducted, it’s quite an honor at your alma mater — high school or college — it’s kind of nice.”
Burns said he never expected to be inducted into the hall of fame.
“I’m very honored because it doesn’t happen to a lot of people,” he said. “I’m kind of flabbergasted.”
Burns, who has been the athletic director for La Grande High School since 2009, played baseball at EOU from 1971-73 after two years at Treasure Valley Community College.
He said he was an education major but came to Eastern Oregon to continue his baseball career, one he thought would take him to the major leagues.
Playing third base for coach Howard Fest, Burns was part of two Evergreen Conference championship teams during his time at EOU.
After graduating from EOU in 1973, Burns started student-teaching at La Grande Middle School before landing a job at LHS.
He taught physical education, health and some science classes.
He also continued within the game of baseball, coaching the La Grande High School baseball team for 21 years over two stints from 1976-85 and again from 1987-97.
Burns said he coached some successful teams, but the Tigers were playing against bigger schools like Pendleton, Hermiston, Bend, Crook County and Redmond.
“Those were some power baseball schools,” Burns said. “We were one of the smaller schools in the league, but we did well every year.”
After retiring, Burns said he did some substitute teaching before becoming the athletic director. He’s enjoyed the position and hopes to continue with it as long as they’ll let him.
“I really like it because I’d go to the games anyway,” Burns said. “This way I get in free. I like the kids. I like to watch them play and progress.”
Burns has come a long way himself since those days on the diamond at EOU. Forty-one years later it’s landed him in the hall of fame.