Glenn Burke, Game Changer

An inspiring picture book biography about Glenn Burke, the first Major League Baseball player to come out as gay, and the story of how he created the world’s most recognizable handshake, the high five.

Playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, Glenn Burke could do it all—hit, throw, run, field. He was the heart of the clubhouse who energized his teammates with his enthusiasm and love for the game. It was that energy that led Glenn to invent the high five one October day back in 1977—a spontaneous gesture after a home run that has since evolved into our universal celebratory greeting.

But despite creating this joyful symbol, Glenn Burke, a gay Black man, wasn’t always given support and shown acceptance in return.

From acclaimed author Phil Bildner, with illustrations from Daniel J. O’Brien, this moving picture book biography recognizes the challenges Burke faced while celebrating how his bravery and his now-famous handshake helped pave the way for others to live openly and free.

Praise for

Glenn Burke, Game Changer

2024 Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection

“Following up his middle-grade novel A High Five for Glenn Burke, Bildner pens a picture-book biography about a remarkable gay Black baseball player . . . O’Brien’s illustrations, opaque and with highly defined detail, are both imposing and intimate, and they move readers through Burke’s trials and triumphs. Bildner’s honest and weighty text is balanced by spreads full of motion, whether figures round bases or connect with high-fives. A bittersweet legacy now accessible to younger readers and sports fans.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Portraying the athlete as someone who ‘could change the game,’ Bildner conveys Burke’s high energy . . . O’Brien’s distinctive use of composition and saturated palette lend cinematic appeal to this affecting story.”
Publishers Weekly