VERSUS Presents “Out. The Glenn Burke Story,” About First Openly Gay Major League Baseball Player
“Out. The Glenn Burke Story,” which documents Burke’s legacy as the first openly gay Major League Baseball player, will have its national premiere on VERSUS on Tuesday, Aug. 9, at 10 p.m. ET. Nominated for a Northern California Area Emmy Award and for Outstanding Documentary at the 22nd Annual GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Media Awards, “Out. The Glenn Burke Story” originally premiered on and was produced by Comcast SportsNet Bay Area last November.
VERSUS will provide encore presentations of the documentary on Saturday, Aug. 13, at 11 p.m. ET and Wednesday, Aug. 17, at 11 p.m. ET
Glenn Burke, the first openly gay Major League Baseball player, ended his journey through baseball where it began, in Oakland, CA. His sports career had many stops along the way, starting as a multi-sport star at Berkeley High School, followed by a stint at the University of Nevada, Reno as a prized basketball recruit, and then into professional baseball with the Los Angeles Dodgers, where he was hailed by one coach as “the next Willie Mays.” Early in his career, Burke felt he had to hide his true self from his teammates. Later, when he began to reveal glimpses into his sexuality, the baseball establishment began to shut him out.
“Out. The Glenn Burke Story” tells the dramatic tale of Burke’s Major League career, from being an outfielder for the Dodgers and a starter in Game One of the 1977 World Series to being traded to the Oakland Athletics the following season and then walking away from the game in 1980. Many of Burke’s teammates were aware of his homosexuality during his playing career, as were members of management. Many of those teammates believe that Burke’s sexuality led to the premature derailment of his baseball career.
“Out. The Glenn Burke Story” explores the wedge that was driven between Burke and the Los Angeles Dodgers management, the similar situation in Oakland that led to Burke’s abrupt retirement, and the hero’s welcome that Burke received in San Francisco’s Castro District after he left professional baseball. The documentary follows him through his public announcement of his homosexuality in 1982 and his downward spiral after his split from baseball; a split that drove Burke to drugs and prison, and eventually to living on the same San Francisco streets where he was once recognized as an icon.
Burke’s story took on another level of tragedy when he was diagnosed with AIDS in 1994. At the end of Burke’s life, the game that he claimed had abandoned him so many years before reached out to him. The Oakland A’s found Burke and provided him with constant support in his final months, as did some of his former teammates. “Out. The Glenn Burke Story” features numerous interviews with Burke’s teammates and friends, including Dusty Baker, Davey Lopes, Reggie Smith, Rick Monday, Manny Mota, Rickey Henderson, Claudell Washington, Mike Norris, Shooty Babitt, Tito Fuentes, and former Major Leaguer and gay rights activist Billy Bean.
“Out. The Glenn Burke Story” is produced by Comcast SportNet Bay Area’s Ted Griggs, David Koppett, Sean Maddison, and Doug Harris. The documentary is narrated by Dave Morey, who was inducted into the Bay Area Radio Hall of Fame in the class of 2010 after 26 years as a morning host at KFOG radio in San Francisco and nearly 40 years in broadcasting.