According to both scouts and his coaches, Burke possessed the skills to be the next Willie Mays. But those same coaches -- as well as his teammates, and even the press -- simply weren't ready to accept an openly gay athlete in the late '70s. Though Burke was never secretive about it, sportswriters straight-up refused to acknowledge his sexuality, and coach Tommy Lasorda and team VP Al Campanis even went so far as to attempt to buy Burke straight, offering him $75,000 to engage in a phony marriage. Burke refused, and after only two years with the Dodgers, he was traded to the Oakland A's, where manager Billy Martin introduced him to his new teammates by saying, "Oh, by the way, this is Glenn Burke and he's a faggot."
In Oakland, Burke featured in the starting lineup by day and frequented San Francisco's many fine gay establishments by night. Still, neither the media nor the MLB were willing to recognize his sexuality, and in 1980, a highly conflicted Burke walked away from the sport he loved. Two years later, the media finally acknowledged his struggles when Inside Sports magazine published a lengthy tell-all of his experience.
AP via Huffington Post
Sadly, it was too little too late, and Burke passed away in 1995, known not as the man who kickstarted tolerance in pro sports, but as the man who invented the high five ... which, wow, is almost better. Damn, dude, leave some revolutionizing for the rest of us.