The Oakland A’s have renamed their Pride Night to honor a pioneering baseball player, an Oakland native and former Athletic himself.
The A’s will host Glenn Burke Pride Night to honor Burke, the first openly gay MLB player during their June 11 game against the Kansas City Royals.
“Glenn Burke was a trailblazer, and we are excited and honored to recognize his legacy and impact on the game of baseball by naming our annual Pride Night after him,” Oakland A’s President Dave Kaval said in a statement. “Glenn Burke Pride Night will continue to be a time of celebration and inclusion at our ballpark as we come together with friends and allies.”
Burke was a touted player within the Los Angeles Dodgers system in the mid-70s and was openly gay, though not publicly, during his time with the team. He is also credited with inventing the high-five there; celebrating Dusty Baker’s home run during a 1977 game, Burke raised his hand in the air and Baker slapped it.
In 1978, the Dodgers traded Burke to the A’s, his hometown team, for Billy North. In his one season with the A’s in 1979, Burke’s playing time with his new team under manager Billy Martin plummeted, playing in just 23 games at age 26 before an abrupt departure. In 1980, the organization sent him to the Ogden A’s minor league affiliate in Utah and released him of his contract at the season’s end.
Burke was born in Oakland and was a decorated basketball player for the Yellowjackets at Berkeley High School, where he led the team to an undefeated season and a championship in 1970.
Burke came out publicly in 1982 and died in 1995 of AIDS complications.
In 2013, Burke was posthumously honored in the first class in the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame that also included Stanford Basketball alum Jason Collins.