Dodgers to honor Glenn Burke on Pride Night


Dodgers’ Glenn Burke
Picture: AP

The Los Angeles Dodgers are lastly honoring Glenn Burke.

In the event you don’t know Burke’s story, you must, as he was first MLB participant to return out as homosexual to teammates and possession, one thing he did whereas enjoying again within the Nineteen Seventies. What’s troubling, nevertheless, is that it’s taken this lengthy for the Dodgers to acknowledge Burke’s baseball legacy, one thing they’re doing tonight for his or her ninth Delight Night time.

Recruited to the Dodgers’ minor league system in 1971 and known as as much as the majors in 1976, Burke was pushed out of the game by prejudiced management after a four-year majors profession that included appearances in a World Sequence recreation and a number of NLCS video games.

After being compelled into retirement at age 27 in 1980 due to his sexuality, the previous outfielder turned to exhausting medicine and was arrested and imprisoned, finally ending up homeless. He died at 42 in 1995 from problems on account of AIDS.

Burke solely performed for 2 groups throughout his MLB tenure — the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Management from each golf equipment brought on Burke skilled and private strife throughout his time within the league, together with a Dodgers GM trying to bribe him into marrying a lady, however just one membership has since honored his legacy and the braveness it took to return out as homosexual within the MLB within the late Nineteen Seventies.

The A’s had been the membership that in the end pushed him out of the game, after new supervisor Billy Martin got here on in 1980, introduced Burke to his new team members with a homophobic slur and promptly despatched him to the minor leagues following a knee harm after which launched him from his contract. That was the tip of the skilled profession for the outfielder who was described by a Dodgers teammate as “the lifetime of the crew, on the buses, within the clubhouse, in all places.”

The A’s had been additionally the membership to assist him out financially after his AIDS prognosis, to ask his brother to throw out the primary pitch at their 2015 Delight Night time, to rename their crew’s annual Delight Night time after Burke, and to pledge Delight Night time ticket income to the Glenn Burke Wellness Clinic on the Oakland LGBTQ Heart.

And whereas these gestures don’t essentially make up for the homophobic and bigoted remedy he obtained from teammates, followers, and executives, it’s an effort, at the least, to proper previous wrongs.

The Dodgers, alternatively, are lengthy overdue in acknowledging Burke’s braveness and legacy. Simply final 12 months, the L.A. Times reported {that a} search of his identify on the Dodgers web site “turns up clean,” and that the crew had solely talked about his identify as soon as within the social media period in a 2012 tweet concerning the invention of the high-five, with which he, together with Dusty Baker, is credited. They’d all however erased him from their collective reminiscence. Till now.

Tonight, for the primary time, the crew for whom he performed in a World Sequence recreation, has invited his household to have a good time Burke’s life and legacy in Dodger Stadium once they tackle the Mets. Extensively beloved by his teammates throughout his lifetime, the Dodgers’ delay in acknowledging Burke’s braveness and in repenting the group’s remedy of him is disappointing, to say the least. Overdue as it could be, it’s a very good factor that it’s lastly occurring. Higher late than by no means, proper?

Per the New York Times, many believed that the rationale the Dodgers despatched Burke to Oakland was a results of his friendship with supervisor Tommy Lasorda’s son, who was additionally homosexual, and whose father publicly denied his sexuality as much as and following the youthful Lasorda’s demise, which was additionally brought on by AIDS problems.

Requested how he would react to listening to concerning the celebration of his life, Burke’s older sister, Luthan Burke Davis, informed the New York Times, “Glenn in all probability would have mentioned, ‘Dang, about time!’ He’d be grinning from ear to ear. He can be thrilled that he was considered that a lot, actually.”

In a sport the place no lively main league participant has ever come out as homosexual, and just one former participant in addition to Burke has (Billy Bean, the MLB’s Ambassador for Inclusion), the honoring of Burke’s reminiscence and life holds actual significance in each baseball historical past and within the sport’s present tradition, as a number of MLB gamers have felt snug with expressing open homophobia as not too long ago as 2015 (and, in fact, there’s the Thom Brennaman incident in 2020).

In different sports activities, Robbie Rodgers grew to become the primary lively brazenly homosexual participant in a serious crew sport whereas enjoying for the L.A. Galaxy of the MLS.  Jason Collins was the primary brazenly homosexual lively participant within the NBA. And Carl Nassib grew to become the primary lively NFL participant to return out simply final 12 months.

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