By Lucas Grindley
Originally published on Advocate.com September 23 2012 10:21 AM ET
The former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Kevin McClatchy, is still amazed that not a single pro athlete has come out while playing. For his part, McClatchy came out for the first time in an interview with the New York Times this weekend.
He seemed bothered in the interview that, “Tens of thousands of people have played either professional minor league baseball or major league baseball. Not one has come out and said that they’re gay while they’re playing.”
McClatchy, who is now chairman of the board for the McClatchy newspaper company, left his job as CEO of the Pirates at the end of the 2007 season.
“I’m sure people will criticize me because I came out later," he acknowledged, "and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it.”
With the team facing the possibility of leaving Pittsburgh, with its poor revenues and attendance, McClatchy told the Times' Frank Bruni, "I was frightened that my own personal situation could in some way jeopardize the whole franchise."
A new effort called The Last Closet launched this week and calls on the commissioners of the five major sports leagues to say on video that they would support a player coming out and to explain how.
The NBA's Rick Welts, the former CEO of the Phoenix Suns who is now with the Golden State Warriors, came out in the Times while still active in the sport. But players like the NFL's David Kopay and Esera Tuaolo, or the NBA's John Amaechi, or the MLB's Billy Bean and Glenn Burke, all waited until after leaving the sport to acknowledge they are gay.