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Who will be the first openly-gay baseball player? I don’t know, but I know what he looks like

Mar 27, 2013, 8:15 AM EDT

mystery man

To coincide with the gay marriage cases being argued before the Supreme Court yesterday and today, USA Today features a discussion among several athletes about when various sports, particularly baseball, will have openly gay active players and how accepting their colleagues will be.  It’s an interesting enough piece and follows more or less the contours of previous discussions on the matter.

My thinking, though, informed by some reader comments a couple of years ago and which makes total sense once you think about it: baseball’s first openly-gay player isn’t going to be an active major leaguer who comes out in the middle of his playing career. Rather, it’s going to be a high school phenom with a can’t-miss baseball pedigree who is openly gay at age 17 or something because high school kids these days have way fewer hangups about this stuff than people my age do.

It’ll be a story around draft time. Then, every year when he comes to spring training or reaches the next level of the minors someone will write a rehash column about him. By the time he makes the bigs it will be old news. The entire time his quotes will be polite versions of “whatever, it’s just how it is” as though you were asking any other baseball player about hunting in the offseason.

It’ll be great because it will deflate all of the “Wow, this is big!” hype from people who grew up in and were conditioned by the culture wars to think that someone will have to break through a barrier of bigots in order to be a gay major leaguer. Instead, it will just be a thing that no one the player’s age thinks is all that controversial, and something which the bigots in the player’s midst — due to how quickly attitudes about homosexuality are changing in our culture — will be afraid to make a big deal out of because to do so will almost universally be seen as shameful. If there is blowback from a teammate it will be handled in the same way as if a player today complained about sharing a clubhouse with black or Latino players: he’d be disciplined and/or cast out, not because he’s a bigot as such, but because he’s a crappy teammate and a jerk.

At least that’s my hope. A hope buoyed by what has been an encouraging and quite extraordinary evolution in the discourse about such matters in the just the past few years. An evolution that will create a state of affairs which will make it quite difficult for me to explain to my perplexed children why, when I was younger, people gave a crap about who people loved.

199 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:29 PM

    You would have seen two guys come out if the Nats has won the WS. Alas, it was not to be. But at the end of a Championship Season, to celebrate with your partner and the whole off-season for the publicity and novelty to die down, that is what I hope for.

    • professormaddog31 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:37 PM

      …so you’re saying there are two individuals on the 2012 Nats team who were in a relationship? And you know this how? I’m not saying I don’t believe you, but conjecture is a dangerous thing.

      • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:40 PM

        Short of them actually coming out, conjecture is all you have. And whether they are still in a relationship is also a question that has been raised locally. It falls in the category of “gossip,” and I wouldn’t bring it up except that this topic keeps appearing on this website. Craig posted his opinion that the first baseball player to come out would be a hotshot prospect. I posted mine that it might have been a gay couple celebrating a WS victory–and why not?

      • Alex K - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        But, natslady, your opinion includes 25-40 guys directly. Craig’s is abstract. That is quite a large discrepancy of scenario.

      • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:11 PM

        @Alex K. Correct you are. No one “comes out” in the abstract. A real person (people) has to do it. I don’t know whether it would be easier for a hotshot prospect–or would he face those NFL draft questions of “team chemistry” and be unwilling to sabotage his career? Or is it more possible for guys who are already on a team, contributing, whose teammates (and fanbase) have already accepted them?

      • Alex K - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:32 PM

        I don’t think it’s going to be easy no matter who does it first.

      • dsmaxsucks - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        Who cares how he knows it? Who cares if its true? There is nothing more dangerous about this conjecture than there is about conjecture that Bryce Harper drank a beer.

        It is, of course, juvenile, but it is not dangerous.

        Until people acknowledge that this is a non-issue (even those inclined to protect gays from “dangerous conjecture”) they are treating it as an issue. When I read some dude say two Nationals are gay it was like reading two Nationals are secretly playing Dungeons and Dragons in the off-season. Thumbs down on that dude for thinking his real or manufactured trivia is interesting, but thumbs down as well for suggesting there is a reason to fear coming out.

      • professormaddog31 - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:47 PM

        All well and good, natslady, but still, Craig and others who keep bringing up this topic do so under the guise of “who will be the first” and the nebulous questions surrounding it. They do not state that they are aware of current MLBers who are gay. They do not narrow down the field to one team in particular, with a particular group of men, and also claim that within said group of men, there are two who are currently in or have been in a relationship.

        However, you did. You specifically cite the Nationals. That’s a huge difference.

        I did as you suggested and googled a few combinations of terms to search for suspected Nationals players in a relationship and came up with squat. How am I supposed to logically make connections when I cannot confirm your argument?

        I’m just curious how you’ve made the connection. I am sure every single fanbase in every single city believe that they’ve got a gay player on their team, or who was on their team at one time. That’s the sort of thing that is speculated to no end. I know I’ve had suspicions about a guy or two in the past. But I have not gone on a blog forum and stated specific teams as you have, nor will I, because they are my own suspicions, and not something that is concretely based in fact.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:54 PM

        Why is everyone acting like natslady hasn’t said this before? I don’t remember a lot of drama about it last time…

      • professormaddog31 - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        dsmax – when I said that conjecture is dangerous, it was not in the sense that coming out would be harmful to any player. It’s that playing a guessing game is not advisable. I would love it if some awesome, big time dude came out. It would be awesome because it would be another nail in the coffin of heteronormative thinking. But to infer someone is gay doesn’t help matters, either, unless there is solid evidence. Natslady did not offer solid evidence and she presented her opinion as fact, as far as I read it.

        Some people here think I am a man. Some think I am a woman. I’m not offended either way, because in the end it doesn’t matter what you think about me. But if you were to treat me differently because you think I am one or the other, that’s the kind of thing I’m talking about.

      • Alex K - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:29 PM

        histo- I’ve never seen her mention this before.

        professor- I’m in 100% agreement with everything you said. I also did some googling and found nothing, so there is no way to know if this is something she is just making up out of whole cloth or not.

      • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 6:20 PM

        yes, I have said the same before–more than once, although not every time this topic comes up. Look for two players who live together, posted a video of their apartment, who were interviewed last spring and laughed about themselves as the ‘married guys’ on the team, who appear at charity events together, and are pictured sitting together sans female companions, who traveled to England together in the off-season to console each other for the loss of Game 5, who as a pair were the “prize” in a contest (to visit your school), etc. and etc. and etc. If you still can’t figure it out, one of them is the Nats’ union rep and the other is the alternate rep.

      • jeffbbf - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:45 PM

        what’s dangerous about it? the talk is about 2 baseball players that might be gay (and not naming them specifically) . we’re not talking about criminal activity. Ten years ago, someone could probably be sued for insinuating that another person was gay. Now – it’s about the same thing as conjecturing that someone is dating, pregnant, or selling their mansion. Hell, when the rumors about Piazza came out, he just had someone interview him on the record to say he wasn’t gay – not that there was anything wrong with that.

    • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:45 PM

      How about your speculation on names?

      • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:17 PM

        Google (or Bing) is a tool that is available to you.

      • kingmiedus - Mar 28, 2013 at 10:02 AM

        Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard. With all that info posted above it was pretty easy to google.

    • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 12:54 PM

      And just out of curiosity, why would they tie coming out to winning the WS? Nats did pretty well as it was.

      Nice as winning the World Series might be, I’m not sure I’d tie my life choices to that.

      • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:01 PM

        Agreed, but the difference is that winning the division doesn’t have the same finality as winning the last game of the postseason. I don’t think it’s a matter of “tying one’s life choices” to an event. The life choice is already made, the question is, do you make it public?

      • Gamera the Brave - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:06 PM

        Do you really think that using “choice” is the appropriate noun? Gay people are gay because they are gay, in the same way you are right-handed or brown-eyed.
        I understand that many people use the words “Choice” or “Lifestyle” to suggest that people “decide” somehow to be gay. I think deep down that you know it’s the wrong word.

        I have to assume you either have no gay friends or family, or you do and have not talked to them about this. If you had, you would not use the word “choice” or “lifestyle” in this context.

      • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

        @Gamara, also correct, and sorry for using that “choice” terminology. Was just trying to say that if guys (who are gay) are in a relationship, THAT is their life choice, and if they want to go public with their relationship they are also “coming out.” And that is, to me, unfortunate. Several Nats got married this winter, and their weddings were celebrating with photos on Twitter, etc. I don’t know if this couple are married, will ever get married, or have broken up. What I do know is that, as things stand, if they did get married it would cause controversy–and it shouldn’t.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:21 PM

        G the B, I think stex meant the choice to come out — not to be gay.

      • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:38 PM

        Yes, Gamera, what philiac said. I meant the choice to reveal it to the world. That is life-altering for most people. Not necessarily bad in any way, but things are different. I speak from the experiences of a close relative.

      • stex52 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:54 PM

        And, without wanting to cause a fight, why would you assume stuff like that about me? Pretty much dead wrong.

    • natslady - Mar 27, 2013 at 8:08 PM

      @professor, I wouldn’t describe it as “solid evidence.” If there were solid evidence, then the players would be out, and you could google their “relationship.” As I said before, it’s conjecture and gossip. Nevertheless, a lot of fans think the same as I do, and even if it’s not the case for these particular two people, it’s still the case that it COULD be, and one day it WILL be the case that gay players can have a relationship and be proud of it.

    • vaues02 - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      Natslady, shame on you for spreading baseless rumor and innuendo about Clippard and Storen. If this blogpost was written a year ago would you have claimed that Detwiler and Jackson were gay (they have both married women since)? If they are gay they should have the right to come out on their own schedule and not be shamed out of the closet by jerks like you. I hope one day in the near future an active ballplayer does come out of the closet but baseless speculation about players’ sexuality is juvenile and mean-spirited.

      -GO NATS!!! Opening day is monday!!!

  2. 2dmo4 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:08 PM

    Who frikkin cares?

    • cur68 - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:55 PM

      Yeah, pretty much this ^^. Play ball, don’t hurt anyone, don’t break the law. Who you date isn’t my business.

      • historiophiliac - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:46 PM

        Unless it’s Roger Bernadina! Jelly!

      • cur68 - Mar 28, 2013 at 12:31 AM

        Leave my mancrush alone

      • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2013 at 7:30 AM

        Now stomp your foot.

  3. unlost1 - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:41 PM

    thanks for all your scathing comments rebuffing my shot at homosexuality. Did you consider that justifying heterosexual immorality doesn’t make homosexuality acceptable?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:47 PM

      You think we give a damn whether or not you think homosexuality is acceptable?

    • Kevin S. - Mar 27, 2013 at 1:54 PM

      And that’s not what you said. You said AIDS was a gay disease. You are laughably, tragically, horrifically wrong on that, regardless of any misguided notions of what’s moral and immoral.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:06 PM

      Did you consider that justifying heterosexual immorality doesn’t make homosexuality acceptable?

      What the hell does this even mean?

    • unlost1 - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      Kevin- I didn’t mean me, I meant the creator, and AIDS was not prevalent until homosexuality started to increase.
      churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged – it just means 2 wrongs don’t make a right.

      Whichever view you take, can anyone see any good positive benefits from homosexuality?

      keep trying, but it will always be perversion

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:50 PM

        Kevin- I didn’t mean me, I meant the creator, and AIDS was not prevalent until homosexuality started to increase.

        We’re really doubling down on the stupidity here, aren’t we? Here’s a hint, put down the bible and pick up a science book.

        Whichever view you take, can anyone see any good positive benefits from homosexuality?

        keep trying, but it will always be perversion

        And now we’ve just tripled it. What’s the positive benefit of being straight? And since I’m in a good mood, I’ll give you a hint. The most likely response is easily countered.

      • mrfloydpink - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:51 PM

        You are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. I don’t know what year, decade, or era you refer to when you say, “homosexuality started to increase.” But I can tell you that homosexuality predates AIDS by many millennia, and that there were large and well-established gay communities in the United States well before AIDS became a public health crisis.

        And I do see positive benefits from homosexuality–for those who are wired that way, it allows them to lead happy and fulfilled lives.

        Further, “does it benefit society?” is not a basis for whether something should be allowed or not. If that was the standard, then a wide range of behaviors and activities–sadomasochism, hot air ballooning, cigarette smoking, NASCAR, Westboro Baptist Church protests–would be prohibited. The standard is–and should be–“does it harm society?” And there is no compelling evidence that homosexuality does so.

      • paperlions - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:35 PM

        It is unseemly for adults to have imaginary friends, perverted, some might say.

      • cur68 - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:57 PM

        For fuck’s sake. I went all day with seeing any of the stupid and this donkey had to go ruin it.

        @Unlost: Get lost.

      • sabatimus - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:58 PM

        @Cur: unlost1 is clearly already lost.

      • unlost1 - Apr 4, 2013 at 4:12 PM

        i once was lost but now i’m found

        i once was blind but now i see

      • sabatimus - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:59 PM

        @unlost1: if homosexuality will always be a perversion, will you always have a tremendous lack of empathy for those so perverted?

      • unlost1 - Jun 6, 2013 at 11:14 AM


  4. sawxalicious - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    When we have the first openly gay player, it would be best if it were an established player. The game is tough enough without being under a super-duper microscope like Jackie Robinson was. Let’s face it, the chances of another barrier breaker having the high level of talent and ability to tune out all the scrutiny is very very low.

    That said, if Bryce Harper was guy, I think he could handle the pressure.

    • clydeserra - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:34 PM

      there is going to be a little more pressure. Not a lot.

    • normcash - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:43 PM

      Perhaps the way it will work is that some talented kid in the minors will come out and an
      established major leaguer with a long-term contract will come to his defense and say,
      “As a matter of fact…”

  5. stlouis1baseball - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    Shhhh! Word on the street is….the entire Cincinnati Reds team is gay.
    Not that there is anything wrong with that.

    • mrfloydpink - Mar 27, 2013 at 2:52 PM

      Why is it that all the political conservatives on the site–you, randygnyc, bigharold–are the ones who think “X is gay!” makes for a funny joke?

      • stlouis1baseball - Mar 27, 2013 at 3:07 PM

        Floyd: I am a right leaning moderate. There are numerous things I disagree with from the “conservative” side of things. Additionally, there are several things I agree with from the “liberal/progressive” side of the aisle. Hence me being more moderate leaning.

        Please lighten up Man. My post in rebuttal of Miggy should tell you exactly how I feel about this particular issue. In fact, based upon that post you should have no questions whatsoever.

    • sportfandc - Mar 31, 2013 at 11:10 PM

      LOL! And I say that as a gay guy.

      • stlouis1baseball - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:25 AM

        I am glad to see you also don’t take yourself to seriously DC! I mean that sincerely.
        Two of the closest people in my life are our neighbors (as you may or may not have seen in my post on page 1). Anywho…these guys are genuine. We enjoy their company…and they…ours. If I need anything…anthing at all…these dudes will do everything in their power to assist me. They don’t take themselves too seriously either. Unlike a few posters on this site. And I routinely call something corny…”gay”…or “queer” in their presence. And most of the time they agree with me! Just last week my Wife was decorating a portion of the house and it didn’t really do much for me. In fact…I wasn’t a fan of what she was envisioning. So…what did I do? I called the neighbors and explained the predicament. I started the conversation by telling them everyone knows there are no better decorators than a gay guy. To have TWO come in and offer their assistance is gold! They agreed and then chatised us for not calling them to begin with. Then stayed till about midnight drinking beer and eating pizza with us. Great people.

      • sportfandc - Apr 3, 2013 at 8:59 AM

        Glad you have neighbors who can decorate. Me, I couldn’t decorate a dog house. (However, my partner could…) Pizza, beer, baseball, and loud rock n roll are in my wheelhouse, though.

  6. sufferingphilsfan - Mar 27, 2013 at 4:06 PM

    More drivel from Craig…

    who cares…all of a sudden it’s popular and necessary to know the sexuality of every human being that we cross paths with.

  7. carryingconcealed - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:15 PM

    And once they’re out of their little closet, can we assume that any pitcher with the audacity to throw high and inside on them will be a bigot? And I don’t even want to think about the hate that will be directed at the first guy to actually bean him with a fastball.

    Before you laugh and call me a saber rattler, think about this for a second and then tell me I’m wrong.

    “Bigot” is liberals’ new favorite word and they look for any opportunity to use it.

    • shawndc04 - Mar 28, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      Okay, I thought about it for more than a second, and you’re wrong.

  8. leovalaunt - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:16 PM

    Glenn Lawrence Burke (November 16, 1952 – May 30, 1995) was a Major League Baseball player for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics from 1976 to 1979.
    Burke was the first and only Major League Baseball player known to have been out to his teammates and team owners during his professional career. He was the first to publicly acknowledge his homosexuality.

    • chilid322 - Mar 27, 2013 at 5:43 PM

      On the same wavelength…I was just going to mention Glenn Burke. Apparently, he wasn’t “out enough”. (since so few people remember him) RIP Glenn.

    • stanmrak - Apr 1, 2013 at 5:09 PM

      Glenn also happens to be the first player to give someone the high-five! It happened to be with Dusty Baker.

      Think about that… every time those macho players give the high-five, they’re inadvertantly giving a tribute to a gay player!

  9. joewilliesshnoz - Mar 27, 2013 at 6:25 PM

    I hear that Dr. Renee Richards will throw out the first pitch.

  10. osage44 - Mar 27, 2013 at 10:24 PM

    why is it so important to this guy that someone comes out of the closet?

  11. barrywhererufrom - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:34 PM

    historiophiliac-I do not support gay marriage-I know I am not one of the enlightened ones on the issue. I am sticking with the definition that my faith taught me. I am sure people will mock and blast me for it but who cares. Only people who can’t debate name call. So on that hope you are doing well and all the best to you!!!

    • Kevin S. - Mar 28, 2013 at 2:46 PM

      You’re more than welcome to keep the definition your faith taught you – within your own faith. Where in the hell do you get off using your faith’s definition to define legal marriage for the rest of us?

    • historiophiliac - Mar 28, 2013 at 10:20 PM

      I’m kinda bummed that you got 3 thumbs down for wishing me well. lol

  12. vaues02 - Mar 28, 2013 at 3:46 PM

    Natslady, shame on you for spreading baseless rumor and innuendo about Clippard and Storen. If this blogpost was written a year ago would you have claimed that Detwiler and Jackson were gay (they have both married women since)? If they are gay they should have the right to come out on their own schedule and not be shamed out of the closet by jerks like you. I hope one day in the near future an active ballplayer does come out of the closet but baseless speculation about players’ sexuality is juvenile and mean-spirited.

    -GO NATS!!! Opening day is monday!!!

  13. mdev1987 - Mar 28, 2013 at 8:35 PM

    Arod or nick swisher

  14. youjivinmeturkey - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:41 AM

    Reblogged this on "You Jivin' Me, Turkey?".

  15. stanmrak - Apr 1, 2013 at 5:12 PM

    Rusty Staub! I couldn’t understand why such a great hitter kept getting traded, almost every year. Now we know.

  16. mabuhay55 - Sep 18, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    I know an active major league baseball player who is gay. A star.

    But I am not going to ever name him. He is too good a person and does not want to be out.

    I am also not going to give hints.

    Then, what is my purpose, (since without facts, I will only be dismissed, even though the law of averages is in my favor.)

    Despite his reluctance to come out, it is a new era, and as time goes on the stigma will lessen.

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