The eccentric Baseball Reliquary recently announced their new candidates for 2011 Shrine of the Eternals ballot and old friend Glenn Burke is on the ballot.
Glenn Burke (1952‒1995)—A stylish, speedy outfielder whose career was undermined by raging homophobia, Glenn Burke spent parts of four seasons patrolling the pasture for the Dodgers and A’s in the late 1970s. Remembered as MLB’s first openly gay player, Burke had the great misfortune to debut under the aegis of Tommy Lasorda, no friend to gay men, and was treated as a pariah by many of his teammates. He is widely-cited as the originator of the "high five" hand slap, a form of salutation and congratulations that quickly spread throughout the world. He died from AIDS-related illness at the absurdly young age of 42.
Others on the ballot include Frank C. Bancroft (1846‒1921), L. Robert "Bob" Davids (1926‒2002), Donald Fehr (1948‒ ), Bob Hope (1946‒ )—No, not the famous late comedian, Curtis Pride (1968‒ ), Annie Savoy (1988‒ ), J.L. Wilkinson (1878‒1964), and Wilbur Wood (1941‒ ).
Glenn Burke was one of many speedy center fielders to come up through the Dodger system who could not hit. If he had not been gay, his career would have been just like any other failed Dodger rabbit, but he was gay, and his story is a big deal.
How many others players have had the courage of Glenn Burke to announce they were gay? Less then one handful, even now every clubhouse in every league probably has a gay player that is to afraid to come out. It has been 35 years for Burke, seems insane that a professional athlete has to hide something as common as being different related to sexual orientation.