An hour-long documentary called “Out: The Glenn Burke Story,” looking back at the life and career of the one-time Dodgers center fielder, will air commercial free on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on Wednesday, November 10 at 8 p.m., the network announced today.
CSN Bay Area is available on DirecTV Channel 696 and Dish Network Channel 419.
Burke, once called “the next Willie Mays” by a coach early in his career, was the Dodgers starting center fielder in the 1977 World Series, but then traded suddenly to Oakland the next year for A’s center fielder Billy North. By 1980, he was out of the game, and many of his teammates by then knew of the reason — his homosexuality, which some believe is what led to his premature career derailment.
He came out in a 1982 Inside Sports magazine story, but turned to drugs and ended up in prision, diagnosed with AIDS in ’94. He died 15 years ago.
Former Dodgers Reggie Smith (in the video above), Davey Lopes, Dusty Baker, Rick Monday, Manny Mota and Billy Bean are interviewed.
So is former A’s teammate Claudell Washington, who recalled a story of when manager Billy Martin introduced him to his new teammates in spring training: “He was introducing all the players and then he got to Glenn and said, ‘Oh, by the way, this is Glenn Burke and he’s a faggot.'”
What others have to say in the doc:
== Lopes, on Burke traded to the A’s: “You don’t break up, disrupt a team going as well as it was going to make changes. I didn’t feel it was going to make us a better ball club. Billy North was not going to make us, at that time, any better of a ballclub. Probably not the real reason why things happened.”
== Baker, on the rumors: “I think the Dodgers knew; I think that’s why they traded Glenn.”
== Smith, on the suspicions: “I certainly didn’t want to accuse him of that, because one thing’s for sure – at that time period, it was a kiss of death for a ballplayer. He would’ve been excused from the game, so to say.”
== From Vincent Trahan, a Berkeley High School classmate, on the Dodgers’ suspicions: “Al Campanis and Walter O’Malley had called him into the office and offered him $75,000 to get married. And Glenn, being his comic self, said, ‘I guess you mean to a woman?'”
== Lyle Spencer, the MLB.com writer who covered the Dodgers for the Herald Examiner: “I was shocked that he was traded… I walked into the clubhouse…and guys were visibly distraught over the trade, and that told me that my sense of how important he was to them internally was accurate. I even remember a few players crying when they found out about it at their lockers, which is stunning.”
“Out: The Glenn Burke Story” is produced by Doug Harris (‘Bounce: The Don Barksdale Story”) and Sean Maddison , who produces San Jose Sharks hockey on Comcast SportsNet.
== More info on the documentary (linked here).
== Burke’s autobiography “Out at Home” (lined here)
== On Burke credited for starting the “high five” on Outsports.com (linked here)
== His stats on his brief four-year big-league career Baseball. Reference.com (linked here)