MLB to Honor Gay Pioneer in Baseball at Today's All-Star Game
The New York Times reports that a gay former Major League Baseball star, who died of complications from AIDS nearly two decades ago, will be honored at Today's All-Star Game in Minneapolis.
The family of Glenn Burke, a gay player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A's, has been invited by Major League Baseball to attend All-Star Game in Minneapolis Tuesday.
This is the first public recognition of Burke's early role in the gay movement in professional sports. The move is part of an effort by MLB to foster an atmosphere of tolerance and inclusion in a sport that remains closeted for active gay players.
Burke publicly came out in 1982 in an interview with Inside Sports Magazine.
"It's harder to be gay in sports than anywhere else, except maybe president," he said "Baseball is probably the hardest sport of all."
An outfielder for the Dodgers and later the A's, Burke played from 1976 to 1979. He was the first MLB player to come out as gay to teammates and team owners during his professional career.
A prodigious player, Burke was not immune to the institutionalized homophobia in baseball at the time. According to his autobiography "Out at Home," Al Campanis the Dodgers' General Manager at the time, offered to pay for a lavish honeymoon if Burke agreed to marry.
Burke's relationship with the gay son of Dodger's manager Tommy Lasorda was said to have angered the hot-headed sports legend. While playing for Oakland, A's manager Billy Martin frequently used the word "faggot," and some players refused to shower with him.
Burke died of complications fro AIDS in 1995.
In 2011, a Change.org petition received over it's required 20,000 signatures in support of Burke's recognition by the Baseball Hall of Fame.
"It was overdue, and Glenn has a story that needs to be told," said Burke's sister Lutha, 66.
Additionally, the Times is reporting that Billy Bean, former outfielder for the Dodgers, Detroit Tigers and San Diego Padres will work with the league on inclusion issues. Beane, whose career lasted from 1987 to 1995, came out as gay in 1999.