By: Sharon Aron Baron
Residents in Coral Springs may not realize that one of the officers on patrol keeping them safe was once a former pro athlete.
In fact, out of 200 sworn personnel in the Coral Springs Police Department, seven were once former professional athletes. One of them, Officer Tim Burton, was once a former pitcher with the Seattle Mariners.
A ten year veteran of the CSPD, Burton moved to the Country Club of Coral Springs with his grandparents back in 1979. He was introduced to baseball at the young age of five. His uncle, Irving Burton, even played for the New York Giants from 1951-1955.
“I was always good at baseball. I always threw really hard at a young age and was a pretty good hitter,” said Burton. “Right around when I was 15 years old, I started focusing more on pitching.”
Burton attended Westchester Elementary and Coral Springs Middle School and was headed for Stoneman Douglas, but went on to play both football and baseball for St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. Baseball earned him a scholarship to the University of Miami.
In 1999, Burton was recruited to the Seattle Mariners, where he remained for six years in the minor leagues.
“You know, you’re living out your dream you’ve always thought of as a kid. You’re finally doing it and you’re giving it all you got,” he said.
He went to major league spring training in 2004, and that was when he was let go. He said the part he misses the most about those days was the camaraderie with the other players, and all of the friends he met from all over the world. After his stint with the Mariners, he went home and attended Florida Atlantic University to pursue his degree as well as coach their baseball team for a little bit.
As a 28 year old at FAU, he was the oldest in his class full of 18 year-olds, but he wasn’t alone as some of his fellow players were also attending classes along with him. Fortunately, he had almost all of his credits completed to graduate with a degree in criminal justice.
A family friend, Jim Milford who was a Captain with CSPD, suggested Burton join the department. Using the skills he learned as a professional athlete: teamwork, communication skills and handling situations under pressure, Burton successfully completed the police academy and was sworn in on September 21, 2006.
Burton likes being on the Coral Springs police Department. “It’s a great place to work. I’ve made some really good friendships out here.”
For the past five years he’s been patrolling the northwest part of Coral Springs including Heron Bay, Kensington, and Wyndham Lakes.
Although he’s no longer a professional athlete, that has not stopped him from continuing to share his talents. He continues to coach up-and-coming youth baseball pitchers and as an officer, he serves as a GRADE (Gang Resistance and Drug Education) instructor and attends numerous community-oriented events.
Burton currently resides in Coral Springs with his wife, one year old son and is expecting newborn in January. He’s received recognitions by CSPD but says he’s most proud of the six life-saving commendations he’s received.
“The most fun part is working in the community that I grew up in. Helping out and giving back.”
Lynne Martzall with the Coral Springs Police contributed to this article