Late Dodger Outfielder Honored By Baseball Group

By City News Service

Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Glenn Burke was among three men posthumously inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals Sunday in a ceremony at the Pasadena Central Library.

Joining Burke in the 17th class of electees were the 1950s Pacific Coast League power-hitting star Steve Bilko and baseball card pioneer Sy Berger.

Burke played for the Dodgers from 1976 through 1978 and the Oakland A’s in 1978 and 1979. Burke revealed in a 1982 interview with Inside Sports magazine that he was gay, the first major leaguer to publicly acknowledge he was gay.

Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Glenn Burke was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals Sunday. (Courtesy of the Baseball Reliquary)

Former Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Glenn Burke was inducted into the Baseball Reliquary’s Shrine of the Eternals Sunday. (Courtesy of the Baseball Reliquary)

Burke also figured in the creation of the high-five.

After Dusty Baker hit his 30th home run at the end of the 1977 regular season — making the Dodgers the first major league team to have four players with at least 30 home runs — Burke raised his hands in celebration at home plate.

As Baker crossed home plate he reached up, slapped one, and the high-five was born.

Burke died of complications for AIDS-related illness in 1995 at the age of 42.

Burke s induction was accepted by his sister Paula Hunt.

Playing for the Los Angeles Angels, based at the since-demolished Wrigley Field in South Los Angeles, Bilko led the Pacific Coast League in home runs in 1955, 1956 and 1957.

Bilko won the league’s triple crown in 1956 and was Los Angeles’ biggest sports star before the arrival of the Dodgers in 1958.

Bilko played for the Dodgers during their inaugural season in Los Angeles and with the Angels in their first two seasons in the American League, 1961 and 1962.

Comedian Phil Silvers named the character he played in his 1955-59 CBS comedy for Bilko.

Bilko died in 1978 at the age of 49.

Berger is considered the “Father of the Modern Day Baseball Card,” designing and overseeing production of some of the most innovative and revered baseball cards of all-time when he worked for the Topps Co., and making baseball card collecting a popular hobby.

Berger died on Dec. 14 at the age of 91.

Berger topped the field of 50 candidates, receiving votes on 33 percent of the ballots returned by members of the Baseball Reliquary. Bilko was second with 31 percent and Burke third, also with 31 percent.

Runners-up included sportscaster Bob Costas (30 percent), two-sport star Bo Jackson (29 percent), 1970s pitching star J.R. Richard (29 percent), three-time Olympic gold medal-winning softball pitcher Lisa Fernandez (26 percent) and the late Oakland A’s owner Charlie Finley (26 percent).

The three candidates receiving the most votes are elected to the Shrine of the Eternals, which differs from the Hall of Fame in that statistical accomplishment is not the principal criterion for election.

Its criteria are distinctiveness of play (good or bad), the uniqueness of character and personality and the imprint the individual has made on the baseball landscape, according to the organization’s website.

Electees, both on and off the field, shall have been responsible for developing baseball through athletic and or business achievements, in terms of its larger cultural and sociological impact as mass entertainment and as an arena for the human imagination.

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July 23, 2015  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.


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