Berkeley High School, 1980 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704, Stati Uniti
Mountain View Cemetery, 5000 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611, Stati Uniti
Glenn Lawrence Burke (November 16, 1952 – May 30, 1995) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics from 1976 to 1979.
Glenn Burke profiled in ''Family: a portrait of gay and lesbian America'', by Nancy Andrews (1994).
Burke was the first and only MLB player to come out as gay to teammates and team owners during his professional career and the first to publicly acknowledge it, stating, "They can't ever say now that a gay man can't play in the majors, because I'm a gay man and I made it." He died from AIDS-related causes in 1995.
Burke said "By 1978 I think everybody knew" and he was "sure his teammates didn't care." Former Dodgers team captain Davey Lopes said "No one cared about his lifestyle." He told The New York Times that "Prejudice drove me out of baseball sooner than I should have. But I wasn't changing". He wrote in his autobiography that "prejudice just won out." Burke left professional sports at the age of 27. He told People magazine in 1994 that his "mission as a gay ballplayer was to break a stereotype" and that he thought "it worked".
Burke continued his athletic endeavors after retiring from baseball. He won medals in the 100 and 200 meter sprints in the first Gay Games in 1982 and competed in the 1986 Gay Games in basketball. His jersey number at Berkeley High School was retired in his honor. Burke played for many years in the SFGSL (San Francisco Gay Softball League), playing third base for Uncle Bert's Bombers.
An article published in Inside Sports magazine in 1982 made Burke's homosexuality public knowledge. Although he remained active in amateur competitions, Burke turned to drugs to fill the void in his life when his career ended. An addiction to cocaine destroyed him both physically and financially. In 1987, his leg and foot were crushed when he was hit by a car in San Francisco. After the accident, his life went into physical and financial decline. He was arrested and jailed for drugs and lived on the streets of San Francisco for a number of years, often in the same neighborhood that once embraced him. He spent his final months with his sister in Oakland. He died May 30, 1995, of AIDS complications at Fairmont Hospital in San Leandro, California, at age 42. He was buried in Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, California.
When news of his battle with AIDS became public knowledge in 1994, the Oakland Athletics organization helped to support him financially. In interviews given while he was fighting AIDS, he expressed little in the way of grudges, and only one big regret – that he never had the opportunity to pursue a second professional sports career in basketball.
In 1999, Major League Baseball player Bill Bean revealed his homosexuality, only the second Major League player to do so. Unlike Burke, who came out to teammates while he was still an active player, Bean revealed himself four years after his retirement in 1995, the year Burke died.
On August 2, 2013, Burke was among the first class of inductees into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame.
In July 2014, Major League Baseball announced plans to honor Burke at the 2014 All-Star Game, doing so as part of a pregame press conference on July 15, 2014. The Fox broadcast in the United States did not mention Burke.
On June 17, 2015, the Oakland Athletics honored Burke as part of Athletics Pride Night. Burke's brother, Sydney, threw the ceremonial first pitch at the game.
Baseball folklore credits Glenn Burke and fellow Los Angeles Dodger Dusty Baker with creating the "high five" after the two hit back-to-back home runs in 1977. Glenn, forty; played his first game at age eleven in a T-shirt league in Oakland, California. In 1972 he turned away college basketball and baseball scholarships to sign with the Dodgers. He played on their farm teams until first reaching the majors in 1976. He played for the Dodgers in the 1977 World Series. He was one of the club's top prospects, and, according to Glenn, they offered him a bonus if he would get married. The following year he was traded to his hometown Oakland A's. Two years later, after a knee injury and personal time off, Glenn's contract was not renewed. Since he left professional baseball, Glenn has worked odd jobs. He was photographed at a gay softball league game in San Francisco, where he plays left field for a team sponsored by a sports bar called Uncle Bert's Place. In 1975,1 knew that I was gay. I never knew before that, because I wasn't having sex with women or men. I was just playing sports. But I knew I was missing something in my life. I was missing a relationship, or a friendship with somebody special. All the other ballplayers had girlfriends or whatever. They were always hugging, and stuff, and I thought, "Why don't I feel like that?" The first time it registered that I liked men I was in a mixed bar and there were men dancing with men. I said, "Ah-hah, I finally found it." I thought I was the only gay person in the world. It was tough in baseball. They were setting me up with all these women. Women were around all the time. People asked me what was the matter: "l introduced you to the girl." I said, "1 met her, but I had something else to do." They never harassed me. But when they found out I was gay they were shocked. The ball players were like, "Glenn Burke gay? Him, walking through the locker room like King Kong?" They called me that because I was big. All I was doing was mocking them, walking through all butch. But when they found out, they froze in their shadows. I got along with everybody. I've always been able to play; I always felt I'd be one of the starting players on the team. No matter what team I'd get on. I'd be good enough to play. I kept saying to myself, "As long as I bat three hundred, and do what I have to do, they can't say nothing." I had to be a little bit better just in case they did find out. I was always thinking about it. In 1978, when I got traded to the Oakland A's, a player came up to me and said, "They're talking and saying that you're gay. I don't care if you are or not, you're still my friend." You can imagine how that made me feel. So I didn't find out until after I got to Oakland that the gossip was I was gay and that's why the Dodgers traded me. It takes a lot to play professional baseball. It was more fun getting there than being there.
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