More than 15,000 people have signed a Change.org petition calling on the Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize Glenn Burke, MLB’s first openly gay player.
Burke, who died in 1995, played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics during the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was out to his teammates and is believed to be the first openly gay player in the game.
“Glenn Burke came out to his teammates at a time when no one else was talking publicly about their sexual orientation, let alone athletes,” said baseball fan Jeremy Redlien, who started the Change.org petition. “We live in a world where the contributions of gay athletes to the history of sports is often overlooked. It’s time to recognize Burke’s bravery so that young people today can be inspired by this important figure in baseball.”
Burke also is credited with popularizing the high five. The story is that in a game late in the 1977 season, Dodger Dusty Baker – now the manager of the Reds – hit a homerun, and teammate Burke met him with a raised right hand at home plate. Baker, on impulse, smacked Burke’s hand.
Redlien said Burke “popularized something that millions upon millions of people do, from T-ball players to professional athletes, whenever they want to celebrate a special moment.”
Redlien’s petition is at http://www.change.org/burke.
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