Before Jason Collins, before Michael Sam, there was Glenn Burke. By becoming the first and only openly gay player in Major League Baseball, Glenn would become a pioneer in his own way, nearly thirty years after another black Dodger rookie, Jackie Robinson, broke the league s color barrier. This is Glenn s story, in his own words . . .
Touted by scouts and coaches alike as the next Willie Mays, Burke, a charismatic outfielder, kept his sexuality off the radar for a good two seasons, which included a World Series appearance. He was even credited with inventing the high five with teammate Dusty Baker.
But when the Dodgers front office got wind of Burke s sexuality, the damage control started, including efforts by upper management to talk him into a sham marriage. When Burke refused, he was eventually traded to Oakland, where he received a less-than-warm welcome from incoming manager Billy Martin. The prejudice, coupled with an injured knee, forced Burke into retirement at only twenty-seven years old.
Now, two decades after his death from AIDS-related complications, the man who started the conversation is finally being included in it. Major League Baseball recognized him as a gay pioneer at the 2014 All-Star game. And Burke has become a source of inspiration for athletes who refuse to be defined by who they love, while doing what they love.
Includes a new afterword by coauthor Erik Sherman reflecting on the two decades that have passed since Burke s death.
Foreword by Billy Bean“