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Glenn Burke Newsbeat

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Why have the Dodgers been so slow to honor Glenn Burke, MLB’s first openly gay player?

The first openly gay major leaguer was a charismatic reserve on a great Dodgers team, and yet the franchise rarely acknowledges him. Searching Twitter, I can find only one time they’ve mentioned his name, an Oct. 2012 Tweet about the historic high-five. A search of his name on the Dodgers website turns up blank. When Burke was experiencing homelessness while dying of AIDS in the early 1990s, it was the A’s, and not the Dodgers, who offered assistance.

In researching my biography of Burke, “Singled Out,” I got the sense that this was a subject many Dodgers players and executives, past and present, preferred not to touch. The team’s marketing department acknowledged receiving but did not respond to several questions for this column, including questions asking for any examples of the team’s acknowledgment of Burke that I may have missed.

Even looking at the team’s long history of well-executed Pride Nights and support for LGBTQ organizations and causes, there has been something conspicuously missing: a meaningful connection to Glenn Burke and the team’s place in gay history. The A’s invited Glenn’s brother, Sidney, to throw out a first pitch six years ago, and their Pride event tonight will raise money for the Glenn Burke Wellness Clinic at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center. (The Dodgers said they had “nothing special planned” to recognize Burke at their Pride Night tonight, “but that doesn’t rule out something in more in future years.”) I don’t know why the Dodgers haven’t made more of their connection to Burke, but there are elements of his experience the team might rather forget.

Following the 1977 season, Dodger Vice President Al Campanis offered Burke a hefty bonus if he’d get married.

“To a woman?” Burke replied, declining the bribe and setting the wheels in motion for his trade to Oakland in May 1978.

 

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: June 12, 2021 at 12:03 PM | 20 comment(s)
  Beats: dodgers, glenn burke, lgbt

 

 

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