If a Major League Baseball player comes out of the closet, team leaders and advocates are ready to welcome him with open arms, reports USA Today.
"I think the time is coming for a team to have an active gay player,’’ said Arizona Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall, who added, “I’m confident there are players playing now that are gay."
MLB is not exactly known for its inclusivity. It took 78 years to become racially integrated, and the MLB has yet to hire a female in the position of a general manager or office manager. Despite these obstacles, Hall hopes players will feel safe coming out. “I’m looking forward to that day when we can point to one or many players, and say, there’s an example of our inclusion, openness and acceptance," he told USA Today.
While players such as MLB's Inclusion Ambassador Billy Bean and Glenn Burke have come out after retiring from the league, there are no out active players. However, retired player LaTroy Hawkins told USA Today that he feels the game is ready:
“Do you mind having a gay player on your team? I wouldn’t care. Doesn’t bother me at all.
“We all have gay family members. And if you don’t [think so], you probably do. We all have our own secrets. It’s baseball.
“I guarantee it’s a bigger thing for the media than it is for us. If a guy comes out, just let him do the job, and leave him be. I’m sure 80 to 90 percent of guys don’t care. The other 10-20 percent wouldn’t say anything.’’
Bean ackowledges that he retired "prematurely because he was tired of living a secret life," according to the paper. During his career, he noted, he played a game with the San Diego Padres just after the death of his partner of three years without telling any of his teammates.
“The great regret is I didn’t trust one of my teammates,’’ Bean told the paper. “I was so afraid to change the [clubhouse] dynamic, I didn’t believe in myself.’’
Last year an MLB player admitted to blackmailing gay umpires in exchange for favorable calls. While some teams have decided to host Pride nights to welcome LGBT fans, Bean, says, “Some days, it still feels very uncomfortable."
“I think it will be an important moment in sports," Commissioner Rob Manfred said about the possibility of having an out active MLB player. "I think it will reflect the culmination of change in our sport, an environment that is inclusive as possible."