MINNEAPOLIS (KGO) --Major League Baseball is taking a dramatic step to pave the way for its first openly gay player.
At Tuesday night's All-Star game the league will honor Glenn Burke who, in 1982, became the first former player to admit he was gay. Burke grew up in Berkeley and played for the Oakland Athletics and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He died of AIDS in 1995 after battling substance abuse, homelessness, and a life of crime.
Also, just hours before Tuesday's All-Star game, Major League Baseball took a swing at making the big leagues a more tolerant place for openly gay ballplayers. Commissioner Bud Selig welcomed back one of the game's own -- former player Billy Bean -- to be the league's first-ever Ambassador of Inclusion.
"We want the people who make a living in our game to be who they wish to be," Selig said.
Right now, there are no openly gay, bisexual or transgender players in baseball. Bean went public about his sexuality only after his playing days ended in 1995.
In his new role, the former journeyman outfielder hopes to provide guidance for other players who choose to remain silent, as he did.
"Baseball is proving they will continue to lead instead of follow and watch by the sidelines," he said.
The league has already banned discrimination based on sexual orientation but wanted to go a step further.
2014 has been a year of firsts for gays in sports.
In Feb., the Brooklyn Nets' Jason Collins became the first openly-gay active player in the NBA.
And in May, the Saint Louis Rams drafted Michael Sam making him the first player in the NFL who is out of the closet.
"We can never do enough to ensure respect and inclusion for everyone," Selig said.
Bean is also expected to train players and the league's partners in combating several forms of discrimination.