9 Baseball Players Who Came Out As Gay

Like other sports, homophobia is still prevalent in baseball. Although step is taken to support the LGBTQ community it has proven to be ineffective.

Baseball is one of the 5 major sports in America, and its popularity is increasing across the globe. 

Major League Baseball seems to be falling behind other sports leagues towards acceptance of gay players.

LGBTQ flag at MLB game
LGBTQ flag at MLB game

In MLB, players recorded using homophobic slur in games. The recent incident of Reds announcer Brennaman, among a few, also proves why.

9 baseball players who came out as gay

In professional baseball, brave players who came out as gay publicly are mainly from minor leagues. 

The pressure towards accepting gay players in baseball may be why gay players who come out as gay before or after retirement have a short career.

Now, let’s look at the baseball players who have come out as gay during or after their playing career.

Matt Barker

Matt Barker, back then, was considered a baseball prodigy in high school. Later Colorado Rockies drafted him as 46th pick.

However, the club wanted him to complete his college. But the college team kicked him and wasn’t drafted later. 

Matt Barker
Matt Barker ( Source: Purplerow.com)

Currently, he plays in National Adult Baseball League for Denver Browns as second base. Later, he revealed his identity as gay while interviewing with SB Nation. 

He decided to join the Browns as the team already knew he was gay, and it wasn’t an issue for the team. 

Ryan Jordan Santana

Ryan Santana played professional baseball in Australia for Golden Dodgers.

He studied at private Christain University Azusa Pacific University, whose policy particularly bans gays. 

Ryan Jordan Santana
Ryan Jordan Santana

Moreover, Santan made headlines after coming out as gay in front of his mother and teammates while filming This Is Life, a TLC documentary in 2017. 

Later, he retired from playing baseball and joined the gay softball club in Phoneix. Although, Santan always had planned after coming out as gay. He won’t play baseball.

Read Also: 8 Strong Advocates of LGBTQ Community in Sports >>

John Dillinger

Pirates drafted John Dillinger in 1992. Throughout his professional career, he played bouncing between five teams in minor leagues for 11 years. 

Dillinger told Outsports in 2012 about his sexuality. However, Dillinger also mentions he didn’t intend on telling his teammates after hearing gay slurs. 

John Dillinger
John Dillinger (Source: SBNATION)

Likewise, in 2007 only he said to his family members regarding dating a man. Later, he got into a relationship with Gregory Fisher. 

Moreover, former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy inspired him to come out as gay publicly. 

Tyler Dunnington

Tyler Dunnington is a retired pitcher in a minor league team affiliated with St. Louis Cardinals. He was selected in the 2014 MLB draft as the 28th overall pick.

But only one year into his professional career, Dunnington retired from baseball. He had not revealed his sexuality to any teammates or the public before retirement.

Tyler Dunnington praticing with Cardinals
Tyler Dunnington practicing with the Cardinals

Later, interviewing with SB nation outsports, he mentions hearing anti-gay slurs by teammates in the locker room, or games felt like having a knife in the heart. 

He also said remarks by coaches and players regarding killing gay people broke his spirit. Later, lack of support causes him to hang up on baseball even after having a decent debut season.

However, after having his family and friends’ support, he got the spirit to return to the sport he loved since childhood.

Later, in 2016 Dunnington also took part in the MLB Diversity Business Summit held in Phoenix.

Jason Burch

Jason Burch played for four different MLB franchise-affiliated teams. He began his career in 2008 before retiring in 2008. 

Since his childhood, his mother always told him that he never answers if no one asks a question. Later, he grew up with the same mantra. 

Jason Burch
Jason Burch (Source: OutSports.com)

Although he told about his sexuality to his teammates, he didn’t publicly come out till 2015 interviewing with Outsports. 

Furthermore, Brunch also mentions he should have revealed his sexual orientation back in his playing days.

In his playing career, he dated men in every team over 6 years in the minor league. After retiring from baseball, he graduated with a law degree. 

Later, in 2012, Brunch met Drew Raines, the present partner. 

Read Also: The only 8 male football players who dared to come out as gay >>

David Denson

David Denson is a retired American baseball player. Moreover, he played for Milwaukee Brewers as an outfielder and first baseman in the minor league.

Milwaukee Brewers selected Denson in the 2013 MLB draft as the 15th overall pick. However, in the first two seasons, he played for Wisconsin Timber Rattlers.

Later, in the 2015 season, he played Helena Brewers. Next season returning to Wisconsin, Denson played as an outfielder.

David Denson
David Denson ( Source: MLB.com)

Furthermore, in 2015, Denson revealed his sexuality to his Wisconsin teammates. He became pleased to see the support of his teammates.

Later in August 2015, Billy Bean helped Densen contact  Milwaukee Journal Sentinel to come out a gay publicly.

Moreover, he later became the first major league affiliated player and second active professional baseball player to come out as gay publicly. 

In 2017, David Denson, at the age of 22, surprisingly retired from baseball. He also mentioned his decision was not affected by any announcement in the past coming out as gay.

Sean Conroy

Sean Conroy is a retired, professional baseball player. He played for Sonoma Stompers in the minor league. 

Moreover, he is the first baseball player to come out as gay publicly. On 25th June 2013, during a pride night match at his debut, Conroy announced his sexuality.

In the historic game, he pitched the whole game, managing to strike out 11 batters. That season Conroy ended the season with a 5-3 record. 

Sean Conroy
Sean Conroy (Source: ESPN)

At age 16, Conroy firstly told his parents about his sexuality. His high school and college teammates also knew.

During his contract signing, Stompers didn’t know of his sexual orientation. But he eventually told his teammates and owner after his arrival.

The team fully supported Conroy, and during the memorable game, everyone wore rainbow socks. 

Later, the scorecard of historic start signed by all of his teammates, his jersey, featured in Hall of fame. 

Likewise, after finding out he is the only professional baseball player to come out publicly, he became surprised. 

Conroy also mentioned hearing many homophobic languages during his career, and the main reason behind coming out is to educate people.

In 2017, just two years into his professional career, Conroy retired from baseball.

Billy Bean

Billy Bean is the second MLB player to come out as gay publicly. In 1986 MLB draft Bean was selected by Detroit Tigers in the 4th round. 

From 1987 to 1995, he was an outfielder for MLB teams like Tigers, Dodgers, and Padres during his professional career.

However, he revealed his sexuality only four years after his retirement in 1999. He announced his sexuality in an interview with Miami Herald. 

But he told his parents during his time in Padres. Furthermore, he was in a relationship with women before. He married Loyola Marymount, but they divorced 3 years later.

Moreover, Bean also mentioned that he was 28 years old while having his first sexual experience with a guy. 

Later, he got together with Efrain Veiga, who was Yuca restaurant founder. They lived together in Miami Beach, but they broke in 2008 after 13 years of relationship. 

Since coming out as gay, Bean is actively raising his voice for LGBTQ rights, mainly in sports.

Billly Bean
Billy Bean giving a speech at Pride Night

In 2003, Bean wrote the book named Going the other way to answer criticism and hope of gay athlete accepted by other in sports. 

During that time, his book became one of the USA’s best sellers. 

In 2014 he became the first MLB Ambassador for Inclusion. Later, he got promoted to vice president, social responsibility, and Inclusion position.

He is also a Gay and Lesbian Foundation board member. In addition, Bean spends talking to present MLB players related to LGBTQ issues yearly.  

Glenn Burke 

Glenn Lawrance Burke is a retired Major League Baseball player.

During his early career from 1976-78, he was considered a talented star playing for Los Angeles Dodgers. He also started in the 1977 World Series. 

But injury affected his career. Later, he played Oakland Athletics before retiring in 1980. 

Furthermore, he is the first MLB player to reveal his sexuality. However, he didn’t come out in the media. But he told his Dodgers teammates and owners that he is gay.

Glenn Burke
Glenn Burke (Source: Awful Announcing)

It was in 1982 only when he made a public announcement as gay articles issued by Inside sports magazine. 

Later, after joining Oakland, he was mistreated. Burke told players they were hesitant to take a shower with him. He also said the manager being homophobic.

Burke is also given credit for inventing high five. ESPN aired The High Five covering every detail of the event how it was invented. 

 Even after retirement, he actively competed in sports events. Burke participated in gay games, 1982 in track and baseball in 1986.

Moreover, in 1982 he won medals in both 100 and 200 meters in the first-ever gay games.

However, he got into drug problems and tested positive for HIV Aids. Later, he died of Aids in 1985, aged 42. 

Later, in 2013 he was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of fame in the first class. 

Likewise, many books related to his biography are published. 

Read Also: 30 Professional Athletes who Identify as LGBTQ >>

Other notable names

  • Former MLB club Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy came out as gay after interviewing with The New York Times.
  • In 2014, Dale Scott, MLB umpire from 1986 to 2004, revealed his sexuality in Referee magazine.

Summary

In 150 years of Major League Baseball(MLB), only two players have openly disclosed their sexuality. Moreover, they revealed their identity only after retirement. 

Since 2016, no homophobic slur is chanted for the first time, and it looks like MLB are doing their best to change the perspective towards gay players. 

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