A former player in the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system, who has come out of the closet to announce his homosexuality, claims he quit baseball because he overheard teammates approving the killing of gays.
One-time closeted gay player Tyler Dunnington told the gay sports site Outsports.com that he was driven to abandon his Major League Baseball dream in 2015 when he heard coaches and teammates disparaging and threatening gay people.
Dunnington, a Cardinals 28th round draft pick in 2014, told the website he was still closeted when he was playing for the St. Louis Triple A, Gulf Coast League team but felt his happiness was being hampered by the “homophobia” he was constantly exposed to in the dugout.
“I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved,” Dunnington wrote. “I was able to take most of it with a grain of salt but towards the end of my career I could tell it was affecting my relationships with people, my performance, and my overall happiness.”
“I experienced both coaches and players make remarks on killing gay people during my time in baseball, and each comment felt like a knife to my heart. I was miserable in a sport that used to give me life, and ultimately I decided I needed to hang up my cleats for my own sanity,” the former player added.
Dunnington apologized to the gay community for “not using the stage I had to help change the game.”
“Quitting isn’t the way to handle adversity,” the player concluded, “and I admire the other athletes acting as trailblazers.”
In a statement to the press, the St. Louis Cardinals said they are taking the charges seriously and are looking into the allegations.
“This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member and employee feels that they are treated equally and fairly,” Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a statement released to ESPN. “Given the nature of these allegations, I will certainly look into this further.”
MLB’s “inclusion ambassador,” Billy Bean, said he met with Dunnington to discuss the player’s frustrations.
“Obviously, every professional athlete has heard some disparaging comments about the LGBT community, which is why this work is so challenging to try to change that,” said Bean, himself a former player that came out as gay after his MLB career. “The only way we can change that is by being strong examples for people. Until players are able to be 100 percent comfortable with who they are, we have to work harder and harder off the field.”
While many players over the years have come out as gay after they left professional baseball, Milwaukee Brewers minor leaguer David Denson became the first active player to come out and openly admit his sexual proclivities. And that only occurred this past August.
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