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ESPN’s Keith Olbermann Knocks Gay Jason Collins STRAIGHT!
Keith pays tribute to the first openly gay player in one of the four major sports. And it’s not Jason Collins. On “Olbermann”, Keith talked about Glenn Burke, the LA Dodger who was the first openly gay athlete in major sports over 30 years before Jason Collins, and he hits a sweet spot. It’s personal, rational and ends with a shocking twist.
Glenn Burke, the Real First Openly Gay Athlete in Professional Sports
“If I can make friends honestly, it may be a step toward gays and straight people understanding each other. Maybe they’ll say, ‘He’s all right, there’s got to be a few more all right.’ Maybe it will begin to make it easier for other young gays to go into sports.” Glenn Burke
Those are the words of Major League Baseball’s first openly gay player. While the national media covers Jason Collins‘ first minutes on the court as an openly gay professional basketball player and the NFL network constantly breaks down rookie Michael Sam‘s combine stats, we forget about the ORIGINAL sports pioneer.
Glenn Burke played 225 games in the majors as a Dodger and as a member of the Athletics, with 523 at-bats, a .237 average, two home runs, 38 RBIs and 35 stolen bases. While those numbers remain far from stellar, he contributed as a spirited member of the locker room, well liked by his teammates.
Dusty Hi 5 Glenn aft HRMajor League Baseball didn’t either know how to deal with his sexual orientation or chose not to. The media wouldn’t touch the story until years after he left the game. Glenn Burke was a trailblazer who arrived on the scene long before our culture knew how to embrace him.
Over the next few weeks, forgive me if I seem apathetic towards media reports about the progress of Mr. Sam or Mr. Collins in their Collins Big Herorespective sports. We live in 2014. A player’s sexual orientation shouldn’t have any bearing on how well they throw a ball or how much weight they can lift. While they may have overcome hardships in their quest to seek a career in professional sports while maintaining their authenticity as a person, it pales in comparison to Burke’s journey more than 35 years ago. Most of us have come a long way since then, although you wouldn’t know it by the actions of a few knuckle-draggers.
I would write more about it, but wordsmith and sports personality Keith Olbermann eloquently sums it up better in 5 minutes than most professional journalists could with an entire novel.
The next time you read or hear a story about a gay athlete, remember outfielder Glenn Burke.
If you have any interest in learning more about his journey, check out his story from the 1982 issue of Inside Sports chronicling Burke’s time as a professional baseball player. Heartbreaking, courageous, inspiring and tragic… all words to describe the tale of professional sports’ first openly gay athlete.
Watch “Olbermann” weeknights on ESPN2 at 11pm ET
EDITOR’S NOTE: Michael Silver wrote this piece after an exclusive interview with Marshawn Lynch last week, when the running back wasn’t sure if he would attend Super Bowl XLVIII Media Day. On Tuesday, Lynch did indeed appear at the event to briefly speak with the assembled media before spending some additional time with NFL Network’s …
Continue reading Marshawn Lynch’s Quiet Power Behind Seahawks’ Super Run
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“How a Grieving Family Saved A Troubled City with A Martyr”
The year 2009 began with a tragedy at an Oakland BART station. Shortly after 2 a.m. on New Year’s Day, BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle shot and killed 22-year-old Oscar Grant II, of Hayward, on the platform of the Fruitvale station after responding to reports of a fight on a train.
“Make no mistake about it Oscar Grant was Murdered, Executed by a BART cop!” That was the echoing sentiment boiling up from among the justifiably angry, restless community of Oakland and the surrounding communities that spread world wide as video of Oscar Grants execution was blared over and over on television screens all around the world. It had become the quintessential poster for the ultimate example of Police misconduct and abuse- a lawless execution as the Black victim lay face-down on the ground, hands behind his back, shot, then handcuffed as he dies- all caught on cameras for the world to see!
Also caught on camera for the world to see was the public reaction to the execution that led to violent protests, as the public “showed their outrage” with the costly destruction of property to areas around town.
The gunman police officer was allowed to go free, traveled outside the state of California until he was charged with murder and appended in Nevada after National public protest forced the District Attorney to file criminal charges. His attorney has argued he meant to fire his Taser gun when he shot and killed Grant.
In the early hours of Jan. 1, 2009, Oscar Grant III, unarmed and lying face down on a subway platform in Oakland, Calif., was shot in the back by a white Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer. The incident, captured on video by onlookers, incited protest, unrest and arguments similar to those that would swirl around the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida a few years later. The deaths of these and other African-American young men (Mr. Grant was 22) touch some of the rawest nerves in the body politic and raise thorny and apparently intractable issues of law and order, violence and race.
Fruitvale Station, Michael B. Jordan and Ariana Neal play father and daughter in this debut feature by Ryan Coogler, which opens on Friday in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Mr. Jordan plays Oscar Grant, who was killed by a Bay Area Rapid Transit police officer.
Those matters are hardly absent from “Fruitvale Station,” Ryan Coogler’s powerful and sensitive debut feature, which imaginatively reconstructs the last 24 or so hours of Oscar Grant’s life, flashing back from a horrifying snippet of actual cellphone video of the hectic moments before the shooting. But Mr. Coogler, a 27-year-old Bay Area native who went to film school at the University of Southern California, examines his subject with a steady, objective eye and tells his story in the key of wise heartbreak rather than blind rage. It is not that the movie is apolitical or disengaged from the painful, public implications of Mr. Grant’s fate. But everything it has to say about class, masculinity and the tricky relations among different kinds of people in a proudly diverse and liberal metropolis is embedded in details of character and place.
Before Jason Collins
The world is throwing a parade for Jason Collins, the 7-foot free-agent NBA center who came out last month. He was hugged by Oprah, celebrated by “Good Morning America,” and congratulated by President Obama.
But nobody seems to remember baseball’s Glenn Burke, who tried to come out nearly 40 years ago and was stuffed back in.
“How’s Jason Collins going to talk about being the first?” says Burke’s agent, Abdul-Jalil al-Hakim. “Glenn Burke was the first. And he wasn’t any free agent, either. He was in the lineup.”
Glenn Burke was a barrel-chested jokester, a singing, dancing, one-man cabaret. His teammates called him King Kong. In high school, the 6-foot Burke could dunk two basketballs at once, in street shoes. He roamed center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Oakland A’s in the late 1970s.
Burke was the pulse of the clubhouse. He wore a red jock. He’d jump in the backs of pink Rolls-Royces after games. He invented the high-five (with Dusty Baker). Oh, yes, he did.
He was as out as an athlete could be in the mid-1970s. It wasn’t that he was flaunting it. It was that he couldn’t keep it in.
“When we’d land at airports,” remembers Davey Lopes, the Dodgers’ second baseman. “There’d always be guys waiting for Glenn. We’d go our way and he’d go off on his merry way. We’d go to clubs and women would hand him their numbers. But he’d never call ’em. Didn’t matter to us. We loved him.”
In the famous 1977 Dodgers-Yankees World Series — starring Reggie Jackson, Thurman Munson, Steve Garvey, and Ron Cey — only one rookie cracked either starting lineup: Glenn Burke.
“Nobody tripped that he was gay,” says Burke’s longtime pal, Doug Harris, who produced the documentary “Out” about Burke in 2010. “The people who tripped off it were the Dodgers [management]. They didn’t want to talk about it. He was trying to tell the reporters, but they said they couldn’t write that stuff.”
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A List Celebrities Comps for Kentucky Derby, May 5-7, 2013
If you are or have “A List” Celebrities that would like to attend the Kentucky Derby, May 2-4, 2013 you may be able to attend as a select V.I.P. The “A Lister” could receive: air transportation or Private Jet service from major U. S. cities, hotel suites and accommodations, ground transportation, VIP tickets to the Derby, special V.I.P. guest invitations to the exclusive events.
If you are or have “A List” Celebrities that would like to attend the Kentucky Derby, May 2-4, 2013 you may be able to attend as a select V.I.P. The “A Lister” could receive: air transportation or Private Jet service from major U. S. cities, hotel suites and accommodations, ground transportation, VIP tickets to the Derby, special V.I.P. guest invitations to the exclusive events.Contact us ASAP with Celebrity bio for consideration.
Throughout the years of the Kentucky Derby, the race has had a special appeal to the celebrity set. The rich and famous that mingle among the Derby Day crowd add a unique dimension to the spectacle of the “Run for the Roses.”
One of the first celebrity sightings dates to 1877 when famed Polish actress Helena Modjeska attended the third running of the Kentucky Derby. In the 1945 book, Down the Stretch, it was noted that Modjeska was impressed by the Derby but even more charmed by the mint julep to which she was introduced by Churchill Downs founder M. Lewis Clark following the race.
Over the years, a stream of celebrities from film, music, sports, politics and wealth have been drawn to the Derby. On at least one occasion, a celebrity with a more notorious background was the talk of the Derby. The 15th renewal in 1889 brought bank and train robber Frank James to Louisville. The brother of famed outlaw Jesse James and a leader in their outlaw gang, Frank was on hand to watch Spokane take the victory over favored Proctor Knott.
Although most of the rich and famous that attend are guests of prominent ticket holders, the Derby has also attracted an impressive roster of celebrity racehorse owners. The group has found that the thrill of running their horses in the Kentucky Derby is as moving as any accomplishment in their professional careers.
During the 1990s this group of celebrity owners grew to include: musician MC Hammer, 1992 Dance Floor, 3rd; composer Burt Bacharach, 1994 Soul of the Matter, 5th, and 1995 Afternoon Deelites, 8th; music producer Berry Gordy, 1994 Powis Castle, 8th; film producer Albert Broccoli, 1994 Brocco, 4th; New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, 1997 Concerto, 9th; and former NBA and current University of Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino, 1998 Halory Hunter, 4th, and 2001 A P Valentine, 7th.
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