Two weeks ago, R20 previewed Out. The Glenn Burke Story, a new documentary that chronicles the life of Glenn Burke, the Black former superstar centerfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers who was the first and only Major League Baseball player known to have been out to his teammates and team owners during his professional career. The documentary premieres tonight.
The San Francisco Chronicle has an early review:
The tale soon turns tumultuous - and reaches a sad, premature ending. Burke made little secret of his sexuality during his time with the Dodgers and A's in the late 1970s. Several former teammates contend this bothered management of both clubs, to the point where the Dodgers traded Burke to Oakland and then-A's manager Billy Martin later ridiculed him in front of his teammates. He abruptly retired from baseball in 1980, publicly revealed his homosexuality two years later and landed in San Francisco's Castro district, where he initially was welcomed warmly. But his life there eventually spun out of control, sending him spiraling toward drug use, prison time and AIDS. He died of complications from the disease in May 1995, at age 42.
Filmmaker Doug Harris co-produced the documentary and talked to The Chronicle about Burke.
"To me, the heaviest part of the film didn't even deal with baseball. It was probably the part where Glenn is here in San Francisco, and he's in a car accident. He was an icon in the gay community, and once he has this car accident - and he can't run, jump and dunk a basketball anymore - then he's not an icon anymore. ... Once he got hit by that car and he couldn't perform, they kind of shoved him to the side. To me, that spiraled into his heavy drug use and his crash and burn. So that's the part that really grabbed my heart. People have to realize the gay community turned on him just as much as baseball did, if you really look at it."
Out. The Glenn Burke Story premieres tonight at 8PM on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. Also tonight, the documentary will screen at 7:30 p.m. as part of a fundraiser at the Castro Theatre in San Francisco. At 9:15 p.m., a live town-hall meeting at the Castro will be telecast on CSNBA.
Watch the trailer WHEN YOU JUMP...