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MWL: Vavra Receives Inaugural Honor
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa -- Monday, The Hall of Very Good™ added three members when it announced its Class of 2014. Joining Luis Tiant, Tony Oliva and The San Diego Chicken in The Hall this summer will be the inaugural Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award recipient.
But, first… about Glenn Burke.
From 1976-1979, Burke played parts of four seasons in the Majors, splitting time between the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland A’s. But as impressive as his combination of power and speed was, it was his courage off the field that made headlines. In 1982, the former outfielder came out as homosexual, thus ending any real chance he had at possibility making any sort of comeback.
Burke was found to have AIDS in 1994. Less than a year later, he was dead.
“As Glenn’s biographer and friend, I believe the honor of a Courage Award being bestowed in his name is most appropriate,” author Erik Sherman said. “Glenn was truly the first athlete in the four professional sports to be openly gay and he ended up paying the ultimate price because of it—his baseball career. He died like he played the game—with dignity and grace.”
The Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award will be an annual award presented to a person who has made a significant impact on the game of baseball or has overcome adversity to succeed on the field. And it’s with great honor and pleasure that The Hall of Very Good™ announces TANNER VAVRA as the inaugural recipient of The Glenn Burke Memorial Courage Award.
At the age of three, Vavra was struck in the eye with a fishing hook during a family vacation. Years later, in another freak accident, he was poked in that very same eye while playing with friends. He would never again see out of his right eye…but he’d never let that stop him from achieving his dream to be a professional ball player.
Today, the 25-year-old is a former junior college All-American and the starting second baseman for the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
“I'm very humbled to received this award and would like to thank The Hall of Very Good for selecting me to receive it,” Vavra said. “I would also like to thank my family and all the people who have played a part big or small in my development as a person and a baseball player. Thank you.”