Out of the Ballpark: The Debate over Whether Major League Baseball Could Embrace an Openly Gay Player May Be Helping to Keep the Closet Door Closed. (Sports)

By Meers, Erik | The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine), June 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

Out of the Ballpark: The Debate over Whether Major League Baseball Could Embrace an Openly Gay Player May Be Helping to Keep the Closet Door Closed. (Sports)


Meers, Erik, The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)


When one of the New York Post's gossip columns ran an item in late May suggesting that a major league baseball player--whom it did not name--is ready to come out, the buzz on the Internet and radio talk shows was deafening. Most of it focused on the New York Mets' mustachioed all-star catcher, Mike Piazza--perhaps because there was already buzz about a forthcoming Details magazine article in which Mets manager Bobby Valentine commented that the major leagues are "probably ready for an openly gay player." Piazza quickly denied he was that player. "I'm not gay. I'm heterosexual," he told reporters. But he went on to agree with Valentine. "In this day and age, [sexual orientation is] irrelevant," he said. "I don't think it would be a problem at all."

Jim Buzinski, of gay sports site Outsports.com, said he thinks it's possible for a major athlete to come out but that "most athletes don't see a real upside. They worry about upsetting fans and potential sponsors."

Indeed, the firestorm of media and fan reaction to the blind item suggests that that fear may not be unfounded. Players and fans alike fumed in the pages of local papers, on talk-radio programs, and on the Internet. …

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