Sexual orientation in the current society can be a great source of discrimination. Despite efforts to legalize the various sexual orientations, victimization and stigma resulting especially to gay persons cannot be ignored. Many people know of professionals, celebrities, and athletes featuring in various screens and print media acknowledging their sex status. However, behind them is a wave of intimidation they have fought for long. Here is what you need to know about Baseball and Gay Players.

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game that has many fans. It is played between two teams with nine players each, battling and fielding in turns. It is reported to be a sport that gay personnel could not come out to express their selves. The latest scenario being of the former Louis Cardinal baseball player Tyler Dunnington. Tyler, who revealed recently that he was gay, provided an open account of what he underwent in the locker rooms.

Baseball And Gay: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

Baseball and Gay

According to Tyler Dunnington, the coach, a member of the coaching staff, and the players made fun of gays. In addition, the aforementioned folks made uncomfortable comments about killing gay people. Dunnington made an account of how a member of the coaching staff joked and bragged about the death of Matthew Shepard. Matthew was a student at the University of Wyoming who had publicized his gay status. Haters beat Matthew to death. After they tortured the man, they tied his body to the fence. This was during Matthew’s final season in college at Division II Colorado Mesa Mavericks.

Tyler Dunnington is familiar with hate. He experienced similar feelings as Matthew Shepard while playing for Gulf Coast League Cardinals. One day, Tyler overheard a conversation between his teammates questioning among themselves how one player could support a homosexual brother. Despite the supportive talk, two of the teammates questioned a straight mate how he could be friends with a gay person. They went to the extent of mentioning the various means of killing gay people.

Following all that, Dunnington, the talented pitcher, was no show during the spring training. He did not return to baseball. He made a decision to quit baseball to protect himself and feel better. Later, he regretted about making that decision as his absence negatively affected his fellow teammates. However, he was able to unleash all his feelings in a letter addressed to SB Nation’s Outsports. In the letter, Tyler mentioned how hard it was for him to choose between being a baseball player and a gay man.

With that said, highlighted below are some of the five things you probably didn’t know about baseball and gay.

Baseball And Gay: 5 Things You Didn’t Know

Baseball And Gay: Who Was The First Open Gay Major League Player?

Glenn Burke is the first and perhaps the only MLB player to come out as gay to his teammates and owners during his professional playing careers. Burke played for the Los Angeles, The Dodgers and Oakland Athletics. He was proud of being a gay baseball player. Burke died in 1995 due to AIDS-related causes.

Another player who came out of the closet was Billy Bean. Billy Bean came out as gay in 1999. He played as an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers from 1987 to 1989. Bean admits that life was hard during his tenure as he was forced to live a double life. Initially, Billy was a married man at the age of twenty-four. His marriage lasted for three years. Billy confessed that he had his first sexual encounter with a man at the age of twenty-eight.

Billy lived with his gay partner in Miami Beach, Florida before breaking up in 2008. Following the tribulations he underwent during his career days, Billy wrote a book, Going the Other Way: Lessons from a Life in and out of Major League Baseball. He was then appointed the first ambassador for inclusion in the MLB in July 2014. Since his appointment, Billy has helped various players to battle hate and depression.

Baseball And Gay: The First Open Gay Minor League Player?

As mentioned before, the appointment of Billy Bean as the ambassador for inclusion brought some sovereignty to the baseball sport. It concerned the regard to individuals’ sexual orientation. The first baseball minor league player who confessed his sexual orientation was David Denson. This came through Billy’s interventions. Since Glenn and Billy’s era, there had been major changes in the gay marriage law. However, no baseball professional player had come out as gay!

One day Billy got a call from a struggling 20-year old minor league player, David Denson. David came out as gay to his teammates. With the help of Billy, Denson got public attention. Surprisingly, nobody criticized or ridiculed the gay player. In fact, friends and teammates congratulated him for being bold.

Baseball And Gay: Role Of The Baseball Ambassador For Inclusion, Billy Bean

Baseball hasn’t been the best sport for the LGBT community. With a lot of intimidation coming from the era of Tyler Dunnington, gays had a rough patch playing the game. For one to survive, they had to live a double life. That, in turn, affected their performance. However, after the same-sex marriage became legal, gay players began feeling much better. The introduction of the office of ambassador for inclusion in 2015 proved the efforts of the managers of the sport to provide an all-inclusive environment for all players, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Billy Bean was appointed the first ambassador for inclusion (as mentioned earlier). He actively began shifting the culture of the sports league. The MLB has provided him with all the resources and accesses he needed to execute this function. Since then, many baseball players confessed and came out of their closets. As mentioned previously, Denson was one of his projects.

Baseball And Gay: Louis Cardinals Response To Tyler’s Letter

As mentioned previously, Tyler Dunnington quit playing for St. Louis Cardinals due to intimidations from teammates. He confessed this in the letter he addressed to the SB Nation’s Outsports. Following this, the general manager John Mozeliak responded that they were treating the allegations with utmost seriousness. The manager stated that they would seek the intervention of the office of Billy Bean for assistance on that matter.

Baseball And Gay: Is there any policy on discrimination based on sexual orientation?

While all these are happening, you could be perturbed wondering if there are any laws or policies regarding this issue drafted by the MLB. It turns out that the Major League Baseball established and enacted a policy in 2013. The policy prohibits any player from harassing, discriminating or intimidating other players on the basis of sexual orientation or affiliations. However, the policy had not taken root due to inefficient enforcement. Therefore, it is up to the office of Billy to see that the policies are enacted and enforced accordingly to prevent future comments. 

Conclusion

Bean acknowledges that he has a lot of work to do regarding the shift of culture. As for Dunnington, he regrets and realizes that he didn’t have to quit his favorite game, baseball to be openly gay. With this, Dunnington is looking into getting back into the game in a team front office as his playing days are behind him. He also appreciates the shifting tide in the sports, especially baseball and the dis-connect between anti-gay jokes.

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