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LA Dodgers Will Honor Glenn Burke — The First MLB Player To Say He Was Gay — At Tonight's Pride Night Game

In a black-and-white photo, Glenn Burke, batting right-handed, wears a white Dodgers jersey and dark batting helmet as he waits for a pitch.
Glenn Burke takes batting practice at Dodger Stadium in 1977 ahead of the start of the National League Championship series against the Philadelphia Phillies.
(LM
/
AP)
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The Los Angeles Dodgers are hosting their ninth LGBTQ+ Pride Nightat Dodger Stadium at tonight’s game against the New York Mets. A centerpiece of the celebration: honoring former outfielder, Glenn Burke, the first major league player to come out as gay.

Dodgers spokesperson Erik Braverman said that it's "well documented" that Burke's time as a closeted athlete on the team was "difficult." Burke played for the team from 1976 to mid-season in 1978, when he was traded to Oakland.

"As an organization, I think that the only way we can grow and continue to move and evolve is to acknowledge things that may have occurred in the past that are not right," said Braverman, "and make them right."

Braverman said Burke's brother will be throwing out the ceremonial first pitch.

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"We're going to honor Glenn and his memory and his courage for living his authentic life," said Braverman, who noted that he wasn't out at work as a gay man when he first started working for the Dodgers.

Braverman said he expected "a pretty emotional and moving night."

Burke, who died in 1995, had a complicated history with the team and pro baseball overall, as the New York Times noted in a story this week about the Dodgers' decision to honor him.

His sister Lutha Burke Davis, told The Times:

Glenn probably would have said, ‘Dang, about time!’ He’d be grinning from ear to ear. He would be thrilled that he was thought about that much, really.

Braverman said the Dodgers organization has "a proud history of inclusion and breaking barriers. And we're the organization of Jackie Robinson, who broke the color barrier 75 years ago this year."

"While we celebrate those moments in our history, if there are parts of our history that are not as warm or as inclusive, I think it's important for us to acknowledge those," he said. "Progress takes time and progress takes a lot of hard work. And we're willing to do that and I think you're going to see that on display at Dodger Stadium tonight."

A while baseball jersey featured the Dodgers logo in LGBTQ+-colorored stripes.
Dodger fans who purchase the Pride Night ticket package will receive a commemorative LGBTQ+ jersey upon entry to the stadium June 3.
(Courtesy Los Angeles Dodgers)

Fans who purchase the pride night ticket package will get a commemorative Dodger LGBTQ+ game jersey upon entry. Dodgers players will don Pride hats on the field.

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The pride party starts at 5:30 p.m. in the Right Field Plaza Bar and will run until game time at 7:10 p.m. And Friday night fireworks and music will follow after the game.

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Updated June 3, 2022 at 3:18 PM PDT
This story was updated with an interview with the Dodgers Erik Braverman.