Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke

Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke

by Andrew Maraniss
Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke

Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke

by Andrew Maraniss


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*"[An] excellent exercise in narrative nonfiction." —Booklist (starred review)

From New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss comes the remarkable true story of Glenn Burke, a "hidden figure" in the history of sports: the inventor of the high five and the first openly gay MLB player. Perfect for fans of Steve Sheinkin and Daniel James Brown.

On October 2nd, 1977, Glenn Burke, outfielder for the Los Angeles Dodgers, made history without even swinging a bat. When his teammate Dusty Baker hit a historic home run, Glenn enthusiastically congratulated him with the first ever high five.

But Glenn also made history in another way—he was the first openly gay MLB player. While he did not come out publicly until after his playing days were over, Glenn's sexuality was known to his teammates, family, and friends. His MLB career would be cut short after only three years, but his legacy and impact on the athletic and LGBTQIA+ community would resonate for years to come.

New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss tells the story of Glenn Burke: from his childhood growing up in Oakland, his journey to the MLB and the World Series, the joy in discovering who he really was, to more difficult times: facing injury, addiction, and the AIDS epidemic.

Packed with black-and-white photographs and thoroughly researched, never-before-seen details about Glenn's life, Singled Out is the fascinating story of a trailblazer in sports—and the history and culture that shaped the world around him.

Praise for Singled Out:

"A compelling narrative . . . This is a meticulously researched history of the ways queer culture in the ’70s intersected with baseball, Blackness, and larger culture wars, with one man at their center." —Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780593116722
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 03/02/2021
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 223,311
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)
Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss writes sports-and history-related nonfiction, telling stories with a larger social message. His first book, Strong Inside, received the Lillian Smith Book Award for civil rights and the RFK Book Awards' Special Recognition Prize for social justice, becoming the first sports-related book ever to win either award. His young readers adaptation of Strong Inside was named one of the Top Biographies for Youth by the American Library Association and was named a Notable Social Studies Book by the Children's Book Council. His acclaimed second book for kids Games of Deception was a Sydney Taylor Book Award Middle Grade Honor Recipient, a Junior Library Guild selection, and was praised by authors Steve Sheinkin and Susan Campbell Bartoletti. Andrew is a contributor to ESPN's sports and race website,, and is a visiting author at the Vanderbilt University Athletic Department.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1
Joy And Pain

Bobby Haskell had learned not to be surprised by anything he encountered on the blustery streets and alleys of San Francisco’s Tenderloin district.

In the early 1990s it was his job to scour these places, looking for the people most of society preferred to ignore, the drug addicts, sex workers, and runaways, the sick and the dying. As a therapist and homeless advocate for the Tom Waddell Clinic, Haskell’s mission was to find these men and women, to earn their trust, and to educate them on the health care services available to them through the clinic, to offer a human connection in a world in which they felt all alone.

Haskell has never forgotten the day he walked into one of the many cheap hotels in the seedy Tenderloin in search of a homeless man his boss had asked him to track down. To call these places hotels was a stretch; they weren’t national chains that offered free breakfast, a pool, and cable TV. Instead they were the kinds of dingy hostels that locked the fire escapes to keep people from skipping out on their bills. A bar of soap was a luxury. But for the men and women who could scrape together enough money (typically less than $10 a night), a room here was a step up from living on the street, even if just for a month, a week, or a day.

Haskell found the room he was looking for and knocked on the door. Even by the dismal standards of the Tenderloin, this was the barest room he’d ever seen. No furniture; just a mattress in the corner. And on that mattress was a Black man, curled up in the fetal position, wearing nothing but a pair of shorts. The man was sobbing and soaked in sweat, crying tears Haskell recognized from years on the streets: tears of hopelessness, fear, and drugs.

Haskell sat cross-legged on the floor, not preaching, not judging, only offering conversation and information about his clinic’s social and medical services. Gradually the man stopped crying. There was a spark in his eyes and the hint of a muscular, athletic body. In this godforsaken place, he still exuded charm and charisma.

The man on the mattress spoke with the ease of someone accustomed to meeting new people. He began to share the story of his life, telling tales of athletic feats on the playgrounds of Berkeley, California, of a professional baseball career that had carried him to the game’s highest peak, of the brief but joyful days of freedom and light when he was one of the most popular men in town.

Bobby Haskell had heard all kinds of bizarre stories from people on the streets. One man had insisted that the FBI had planted radios in his thumbs; another claimed to be a Vietnam veteran suffering from PTSD, though he was far too young to have served in that war.

But Haskell was savvy enough to know the difference between lies and schizophrenia and the strange but true.

So when the man sitting across from him said he had once played for the Los Angeles Dodgers, had started in center field in Game 1 of the 1977 World Series, and had even invented the high five, Bobby believed him.

The man on the mattress?

His name was Glenn Burke.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Joy And Pain 1

Chapter 2 Top Of The Heap 4

Chapter 3 Heart's Desire 8

Chapter 4 Bushrod King 14

Chapter 5 Hot Stuff 18

Chapter 6 Money Talks 25

Chapter 7 God's Gift To Baseball 31

Chapter 8 Truth Or Dare 40

Chapter 9 Bad Blood 46

Chapter 10 Unforgettable 54

Chapter 11 Living In A Closet 60

Chapter 12 Glistening 66

Chapter 13 Cup Of Coffee 73

Chapter 14 On Fire 83

Chapter 15 Open Secret 97

Chapter 16 Hands Up 107

Chapter 17 Big Blue Wrecking Crew 113

Chapter 18 Indecent Proposal 128

Chapter 19 Blackballed 137

Chapter 20 Superfreaky 147

Chapter 21 Signature Moment 154

Chapter 22 Unraveling 162

Chapter 23 Disco Inferno 176

Chapter 24 Don't Call It A Comeback 181

Chapter 25 Top Dog 189

Chapter 26 Russian River 197

Chapter 27 Got To Let It Show 203

Chapter 28 Ground Zero For The Plague 214

Chapter 29 The Crushing Blow 224

Chapter 30 The Terror Of Knowing 235

Chapter 31 No Burden Is He 242

Chapter 32 Monumental 254

Notes 259

Interviews 271

Bibliography 273

Newspapers, Magazines, And Websites 275

Baseball Statistics And Charts 277

Us Gay Rights Timeline 281

A Selection Of Significant Black American Lgbtqia+ Figures For Further Study 289

Select Resources 293

Acknowledgments 297

Index 301

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