Baseball books can provide valuable history lessons. Even if they are of the biography genre, they can still give valuable lessons to the reader about a multitude of things. It has always been said that baseball mimics society and in the case of todays book that may ring true. It shows how society has changed and become more tolerant and accepting. Baseball may be slow to change at times but in this case, they have finally caught up with society.
Glenn Burke was the first openly gay athlete in Major League Baseball. While that alone is trailblazing, in the end he suffered the wrath of the game and became black-balled. He had a very short career in the majors playing for both the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s in the late 70’s. For his brief career he put up decent numbers and probably had he not been openly gay would have had a longer career. When you are the first person who does anything different in baseball it seems that you have a much more difficult time being accepted than the next person. Just ask Jackie Robinson, being a trend setter is hard work.
Glenn Burke suffered the wrath of the baseball hierarchy and essentially lost his career for it. Even though some of his teammates knew about his sexual orientation and didn’t care, the baseball establishment was not embracing it. Glenn eventually died of AIDS in 1995 and this book was his way of getting his story out before his untimely death. It is a very good book that shows the struggles and humiliation Glenn had to endure just to be himself and play the game he loved. It shows some of the intolerant practices that existed during his time in the jock world of Major League Baseball.
More importantly this book allows the reader to see how both the game and society has evolved in the twenty years since its initial publication. MLB has now added the Ambassador of Inclusion position in Billy Bean so that these issues don’t happen again. This book also shows how society’s views have evolved in regards to homosexuality and it is not as big of an issue as it once was. It shows that everyone has a place within our society and while it may not happen as fast as some people would like it has made some progress. One thing I found interesting between the original publication of this book and the re-issued edition is that they used the same cover photo, but the Dodgers logos had been removed his uniform. It just struck me as odd that after all this time they would remove them.
Glenn Burke is pretty much at this point a footnote in baseball history but this book does give you a nice glimpse of both the player and the man. Perhaps if he was somewhere else on a less profile team than the Dodgers, his career may have lasted longer but honestly who knows. After all he went through you get no signs of bitterness from Glenn for his outcome in life. He was proud of who he was and who he loved, and hoped in the end he would be remembered as a good person and what more can any of us ask for in life.
You can get this book from the nice folks at Berkeley Publishing Group
I wasn’t sure if I was going to use this book on the blog or not. I have no clue what my reader base is and didn’t want to do something inappropriate for that audience. After seeing all the articles on the internet about Umpire Dale Scott announcing his homosexuality, I figured this was a s good of a time as any to take a look at this book.
Going the Other Way
By:Billy Bean-2014 The Experiment Publishing
Being politically correct has never been one of my strengths so if I offend anyone, my apologies up front. Billy Bean was a major league player in the late 80’s to early 90’s. He bounced around to a few cities and played for a few years in the majors but was never a player who produced substantially. While we all may know of his baseball side, this book is more of a personal revelation book in the sense that he seems to come to grips with who he really is.
For those unaware Bean is gay. I am in no way judging his lifestyle on here at all. I am just stating facts and letting each reader have their own opinion whatever that may be. I am not sure I would necessarily call this a baseball book so much as possibly it is just a book about reflecting on one’s own life. Sure there are baseball stories but it is not an overwhelming theme.
Bean takes a look back at his own life and the choices he has made, his career and where is life is going. He talks about the struggles of being gay and how he came to grips with who he really was. You get amazing insight into a person’s journey through this topic and oh yeah by the way, he was a professional baseball player. Billy pulls no punches and does not try to sugarcoat any of the choices he has made, good, bad or indifferent. It is a surprisingly honest account from a professional athlete. There is nothing written in the book to try to portray Bean in a different light from what he really is. He comes across as human just like the rest of us, and you share in the journey of him finding himself. This honesty about his own being has probably led to MLB naming him the Ambassador of Inclusion in 2014.
This book was originally written 7 or 8 years ago and the new edition has some more pages. Whether you read the original printing or the new one it is a well written book and in the end you admire Bean for his forthrightness in the story. With homosexuality starting to come to the forefront in professional sports in the past few years, this is a very good book to get a glimpse at what an athlete endures to play the game. Perhaps they can get the players who are enduring this scenario to read this book and use it as some sort of guide.
If you want a strong baseball book, this may not be the best choice for you. If you are looking at an honest human interest memoir and learning about the author’s journey, who, oh yeah, happened to be a professional baseball player, then you will really enjoy this book.
You can get this book from the nice folks at The Experiment Publishing