Glenn Burke Newsbeat
Thursday, July 17, 2014
This checks out.
Teaching the Mechanics of the Major League Swing, featuring Houston Astros slugger Glenn Davis alongside a teenaged Eddie Taubensee, was released on VHS in the fall of 1986 and instantly became a hit. Newspaper articles about what Emanski — by then a New York Yankees associate scout (or “bird dog”), later poached by the Pittsburgh Pirates — was doing at Baseball World became more frequent. The Atlanta Braves even sent one of their struggling prospects, the highly touted Brad Komminsk, for instruction. Braves general manager Bobby Cox said one of his scouts was “fascinated” by Emanski’s video analysis.
But Emanski was still an inside story, and he was determined to see his baseball philosophies gain larger currency in the sport. “Something clicked,” Taubensee says. “He was always like, ‘Man, why can’t anyone else figure this out? Nobody is teaching this kind of stuff.’”...
Emanski flew to Chicago and picked up McGriff, who was in town to play the Cubs, and then drove him to a Little League diamond near Wrigley Field. McGriff donned that blue Baseball World cap that has become so iconic, looked into the camera, and professed that he “was so impressed with the instructional videos by Coach Emanski that I’ve given them my full endorsement.”
For baseball fans of a certain age, these words will live forever.
McGriff, who would not comment for this story, seems to have tired, over the years, of his long-lasting association with the immortal commercial. But as his career was winding to a close, ESPN declared the 60-second spot as the No. 1 athlete commercial of all time.
“Y’all,” a giddy McGriff told the network, “are making Tom Emanski a very rich man.”
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
At tonight’s all-star game, MLB will recognize the career and contributions of Glenn Burke, a speedy outfielder who became the first baseball player to be out to his teammates, and the first to acknowledge it publicly after his career ended.
Burke left the game in 1979, citing the burden of keeping his personal life private.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Numbers can’t possibly begin to explain how a tremendously talented athlete would eventually be sidelined by vicious institutional homophobia. After coming out to his teammates and managers in 1978, Burke was reportedly offered $75,000 by Dodgers Vice President Al Campanis to enter into a sham marriage. When turning down the offer—more than $312,000 in today’s money—Burke wittily replied, “I guess you mean to a woman.” Unfortunately, Glenn Burke’s fearlessness would lead to his exile from Los Angeles: That same year, he was traded to Oakland.
According to former Athletics teammate Claudell Washington, manager Billy Martin was cruelly homophobic from Day 1, introducing Burke in the locker room by saying, “Oh, by the way, this is Glenn Burke, and he’s a faggot.” Much as Jackie Robinson endured unfathomable racism from fans and fellow players alike, Burke too faced the injustice of bigotry in sports. Yet as an out gay, black man in professional sports—in the 1970s—Burke was light years ahead of his time. “Being black and gay made me tougher. You had to be tough to make it. Yeah, I’m proud of what I did,” Burke recalled later in life. In a Philadelphia Inquirer interview just before his death from AIDS-related illness in 1995, Burke was defiant, declaring, “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.”
MLB’s most significant tribute to Glenn Burke is a puff piece from 2013, which details the creation of the high five.
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