The Los Angeles Dodgers have a proud history of supporting LGBTQ Pride, and this year, they’re honoring one of MLB’s true LGBTQ trailblazers.
The Dodgers announced this week they are hosting their ninth annual LGBTQ+ Night in honor of Glenn Burke, the first out gay player in MLB history. Burke played parts of three seasons with the Dodgers and was part of their 1977 World Series team.
“The Dodgers are once again proud to celebrate the LGBTQ+ community during this annual event, which has become one of the most anticipated nights of the season,” said Executive Vice President Lon Rosen in a press release. “We are also very happy to recognize Glenn Burke and honor his memory with his family in a very special pre-game ceremony.”
To commemorate the festivities, the Dodgers invited the Burke family to throw out the ceremonial first pitch. His siblings will be in attendance as well.
MLB ambassador of inclusion Billy Bean, out transgender MMA fighter Fallon Fox and retired out umpire Dale Scott, who recently penned an excellent autobiography, will also be at Dodger Stadium. Outsports is a proud partner of the event.
“The Dodgers have a long and proud history of diversity and inclusion. Our year-round commitment and partnership with the LGBTQ+ community is something the organization takes very seriously,” said Senior Vice President Erik Braverman, who got married to his partner at Dodger Stadium earlier this year.
The Dodgers hosted the first “gay night” in pro sports that we know of back in 2000, in support of a lesbian couple who were shamefully ejected by security for kissing at a previous game. In 2019, the team sold approximately 12,000 LGBTQ+ Night packages — the most ever for an LGBTQ night.
After a Covid-hiatus, Dodgers Pride Night returned last season. Roughly 8,000 tickets were sold for the celebration ahead of time.
This year, players will wear commemorative Pride jerseys with numbers and logos stitched in rainbow colors.
The Dodgers are the second team to honor Burke as part of their annual Pride event. The Oakland A’s, for whom Burke also played, renamed their Pride Night in honor of him last year.
Though Burke wasn’t publicly out as a player, his sexuality wasn’t a secret. Despite being embraced by some teammates — Burke and Dodgers great Dusty Baker are credited with inventing the high-five — manager Tommy Lasorda and team management were less supportive.
Burke was unceremoniously traded to the A’s, where he received little playing time, and was subject to hostile treatment from manager Billy Martin.
The speedy outfielder lived openly as a gay man for years after his retirement, even competing in the Gay Games. But he encountered hard times after shattering his leg in an auto accident, and died from AIDS-related causes in 1995.
Decades later, it’s great to see the Dodgers, and MLB as a whole, recognize Burke for his bravery.
Dodgers Pride Night will be held Friday, June 3. You can purchase tickets here.