Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke
Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke
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Annotation: *"[An] excellent exercise in narrative nonfiction." --Booklist (starred review) From New York Times bestselling author A... more
Genre: [Biographies]
Catalog Number: #255000
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
Publisher: Penguin
Copyright Date: 2021
Edition Date: 2021
Pages: 308 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-593-11672-0
ISBN 13: 978-0-593-11672-2
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2021000879
Dimensions: 24 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Kirkus Reviews
The story of a baseball player whose life serves as testimony to where we’ve come from and how far we still have to go.In 1977, Burke was a gay Black man playing center field for the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series; by 1995, he would be dead at 42 due to complications of AIDS. Maraniss meticulously charts a path from Burke’s Berkeley, California, upbringing as an all-around athlete through his relatively brief but significant MLB stint to San Francisco’s Tenderloin District, where he struggled through addiction, incarceration, poverty, housing insecurity, and sickness in the final chapters of his life. The author presents a critical interpretation of Burke’s life, juxtaposing interviews with contemporaries with accounts of 1969’s Stonewall uprising, Anita Bryant’s anti–gay rights campaign, and Magic Johnson’s 1991 HIV announcement. This creates a compelling narrative, offering helpful context for young readers in a complicated account of race, sexuality, and a dream deferred, yet it pushes Burke from the foreground, centering the national media and sports establishments that used and critiqued Burke’s body and what he did with it. Not exactly a biography, 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.Burke was so impressive a figure, his story so gripping, that this book holds unquestionable merit. (notes, interviews, bibliography, baseball statistics, timeline, Black LGBTQ+ individuals, index) (Nonfiction. 12-18)
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 9 Up-A pioneering athlete's life is examined through the intersection of gay rights, race, and Major League Baseball. Glenn Burke rose to acclaim in the 1970s as part of the L.A. Dodgers. Charismatic, popular, and phenomenally talented, Burke, who was Black and gay but not out, worked his way through the team's farm system. He longed to reconcile his image with his true self, and in 1982 Burke, who is credited with inventing the cultural phenomenon of the high five, came out in a magazine article and a Today show interview. Burke struggled with drug addiction and eventually fell on devastatingly hard times, at times incarcerated, unhoused, and unemployed. He died of complications from AIDS in 1995. By looking at the social and political climates and incorporating the history of gay rights and activism, Maraniss shows what the world was like for gay people in the 1970s and 1980s, with no openly gay athletes, a homophobic sports world, and the AIDS crisis taking hold. Short sections, photographs, and quotes from Maraniss's many interviews keep the deeply immersive story moving. Extensive back matter proves to be as essential reading as the main text. Detailed source notes provide more information on people quoted, events of the time, issues in MLB, and explanations of references. A bibliography, baseball statistics, a gay rights time line, selection of Black American LGBTQ people to know and study, and an index round out the work. VERDICT This remarkable tribute to a trailblazer is narrative nonfiction at its finest. Amanda MacGregor, Parkview Elem. Sch., Rosemount, MN
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Ever high-fived anyone? If so, you have former Major League baseball player Glenn Burke to thank, for he invented the gesture in 1977. His "invention" might be considered a footnote to history, but a more enduring contribution is Burke's having become the first Major League baseball player to come out as gay. Maraniss' excellent exercise in narrative nonfiction tells Burke's dramatic and ultimately tragic story. At age 19, the preternaturally gifted teen signed a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and spent the next 6 seasons working his way up through the ranks, debuting as a Major League player in 1976. Highly extroverted, funny, and charismatic, Burke was a favorite with his teammates, who had no idea that, when away from the team, he was leading the life of an openly gay man. As this gradually became an open secret among his teammates, however, rampantly homophobic management essentially drove Burke out of baseball and into an early grave. Maraniss does an extraordinary job of recording this memorable life in black-and-white photographs and fluid, compelling writing that is both biography and de facto history of gay rights and the depredations of homophobia. This valuable resource is further strengthened by generous back matter, which includes carefully detailed notes, a list of sources, a bibliography, baseball statistics and charts, and a gay-rights time line.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (10/1/20)
Starred Review for Publishers Weekly (10/1/20)
School Library Journal Starred Review (7/1/21)
Kirkus Reviews
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Reading Level: 6.0
Interest Level: 7-12
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.

Excerpted from Singled Out: The True Story of Glenn Burke by Andrew Maraniss
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

*"[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


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