Dale Scott, the first Major League Baseball umpire to come out publicly as gay during his career, is retiring.
Scott suffered a concussion when he was hit by a foul ball in April, ending the season prematurely for him, and he announced this month that he won’t be back, Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., reports.
It was the fourth concussion of his career, he said, and he learned from doctors that concussions could increase his chance of developing Parkinson’s disease or dementia. He has a family history of both ailments.
“That was the real clincher for me,” Scott told the Sun. “I was leaning that way, I had planned on retiring in two years anyway, and after talking with medical officials and talking with Mike [his husband] and my family and even some retired umpires, I came to the decision that I’m good. I didn’t work all this time to retire and have memory lapses or headaches or trouble sleeping.”
An MLB umpire since 1986, Scott has officiated three World Series, three All-Star Games, and four no-hitters.
He came out in 2014, the first MLB ump to do so while active — another gay umpire, Dave Pallone, came out publicly after leaving Major League Baseball, and has said that when he was fired in 1988, it was for being gay. Scott’s experience, though, has been largely positive, he said.
“The teams didn’t know, the players didn’t know and fans didn’t know, but it wasn’t a huge bombshell to the people I worked with,” Scott told the Sun of his coming-out. “But the time had come. You can’t have all this work and fight for equality and even get married, and still be in the closet. It just didn’t make sense.”
He added, “It was the right thing to do and I’m proud of the decision I made and the response I’ve had has backed that up. People from around the world that I didn’t even know contacted me. It was so humbling to hear from so many different people. I hope in a small way it helps someone in the future. Like a young kid like me when I was a teenager and going into umpiring and also being gay, it would have been great to see somebody that had been successful and it didn’t hold them back.”
He and Michael Rausch, together since 1986, married in 2013 at their Palm Springs home. With Scott retired, they have plans to travel internationally. It may be hard getting used to not having his schedule dictated by the baseball season, he noted, but he’s ready to get off what he calls the “hamster wheel.”
“I never thought my last game I would leave flat on my back on a stretcher with a big neck brace on,” he added. “But as I like to joke, we gays do like to make an exit.”