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Glenn Burke

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Glenn Lawrence Burke

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Glenn Burke is credited with inventing the high five. After his career ended, he became the first former major leaguer to come out as gay. He died of an AIDS-related condition in 1995.

He was a star basketball and baseball player at Berkeley High School. Although he appeared in 4 major league seasons, his most notable year was 1977, when he was the fourth outfielder on a Los Angeles Dodgers team that went to the World Series. He didn't have much hope of dislodging the three regular outfielders - Dusty Baker, Reggie Smith, and Rick Monday, though. Burke at the time was 24, one year older than the fifth outfielder, John Hale. By the middle of 1978, both Burke and Hale were gone from the Dodgers.

He started the first game of the 1977 World Series, batting sixth in the order, and went 1 for 3, with a single.

After leaving Los Angeles, he played briefly for the Oakland Athletics. He came out as gay in 1982 and lived in the Castro districty of San Francisco for a while. However, his homosexuality had ben known to teammates previously, and some of them made life hard for Burke in the major leagues. In particular, A's manager Billy Martin reportedly greeted him with a homosexual slur when he took the helm of the team in spring training of 1980. Burke later ran into difficulties with substance abuse, spent time in jail, became homeless and died of AIDS in 1995. The Athletics gave him some financial support towards the end of his life, as he was completely destitute. A documentary about his life, entitled "Out. The Glenn Burke Story", was produced in 2010 and aired on various sports channels.

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