Former Dodger Burke Dies of AIDS at 42
Glenn Burke, a Dodger and Oakland Athletic outfielder who later became one of the few players in or out of the majors to acknowledge being gay, has died of AIDS-related complications.
Burke was 42. He died Tuesday night at a San Leandro hospital after being admitted Friday, said Pam Pitts, the A’s director of administration.
Although Burke had spent time in San Quentin prison and on the San Francisco streets in recent years, in his last months he was cared for in his sister’s home and was surrounded by “lots of family,” Pitts said.
“The doctors didn’t give him past Christmas,” said Erik Sherman, who worked with Burke on an upcoming book about the player’s career. “He could have passed away in November. He’s been hanging on for months.”
Burke’s major league statistics were modest--a .237 batting average and 35 stolen bases over four years.
Burke and others said his promise in baseball was never fully realized given what Burke said were “prejudiced and homophobic” baseball managers and bias in the majors overall.
Burke’s homosexuality was known within baseball although he did not come out publicly until 1982, two years after he left the game.
Out of baseball, Burke used cocaine heavily. He spent 17 months in San Quentin earlier in the 1990s on counts of false imprisonment, grand theft, possession of a controlled substance and subsequent parole violations.
“It’s a somber day, but also a day of relief because his family and friends know he’s at peace with himself,” Sherman said.