To date, more than 20,000 people have joined the campaign on Charge.com, asking that The Baseball Hall of Fame to recognize Burke's contribution and popularization of the high five. In a late season game in 1977, Burke’s Dodgers teammate, Dusty Baker, hit a home-run, and Burke who was on deck, raised his right hand as Baker crossed the home plate and gave him a high five.
“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 Redlien. “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.”
“It’s amazing to think that Glenn Burke not only made history by coming out as gay, but that he also popularized something that millions upon millions of people do, from T-ball players to professional athletes, whenever they want to celebrate a special moment,” added Redlien. “Burke’s story is something that everyone deserves to learn about, as the contributions of gay athletes are all too often overlooked in professional sports.”
Burke’s career in the Major Leagues was short. According to a PBS documentary from 2010, Burke’s sexual orientation caused friction between him and his managers, with a Dodgers official suggesting that Burke should get married to protect the team’s image. Burke retired in 1980, and said a few years later that “prejudice drove me out of baseball sooner than I should have, but I wasn’t changing.”
Burke passed away in 1995, after a battle with substance abuse and HIV/AIDS-related complications.
“I think if Burke had been supported by managers and teammates early on, he would not have left baseball so early, and could have been a contender for the Hall of Fame,” said Redlien. “Instead, Burke died tragically after feeling like he didn’t belong in professional sports. It is time for his favorite sport to give him the respect he always deserved.”
“Jeremy Redlien’s petition is mobilizing thousands of people who want to see Glenn Burke honored in some way by the Baseball Hall of Fame, they are speaking out *and joining Jeremy’s campaign in droves” said Joe Mirabella, Campaign Manager at Change.org.