Professional baseball player Solomon Bates came out as gay in a post to Instagram on Tuesday.
The 25-year-old pitcher, who had played for the Richmond Flying Squirrels of the San Francisco Giants Double-A minor league team before his recent release, tells The Advocate he made the announcement to show that gay men have a place in the sport.
"I do feel as if we need more people that are gay to come out but just on their own time and if they have the strength," Bates tells The Advocate. "It took me a long while of back and forth and going through a lot of things to finally love myself to do what I did. I came out because to me it just felt like the right time. I know who I am as a person and what I wanted to do was bigger than me."
"I'm still going to open up doors for gay athletes like me," Bates posted to Instagram following his release. "Still will strive to be one of the greatest to do it."
Bates, who hails from Victorville, Calif., is only the second active minor league baseball player to come out as gay. Outfielder and first baseman David Denson, who played in the Milwaukee Brewers farm system, came out as gay in 2015. Denson retired from the sport in 2017. Independent league professional baseball player Bryan Ruby came out as gay last year, joining Sean Conroy who came out in 2015. Bates confirmed to Cyd Ziegler of Outsports he had been out to his teammates since 2019.
Bates posted a 17-6 record over four years with the Giants organization and briefly pitched for the Giants Major League Baseball team in San Francisco during spring training this season.
Bates had suffered through injuries and was briefly placed on injured reserve, but battled back to earn a spot on the roster. He noted his release came as a surprise, but that he was not deterred from continuing to play baseball.
"I ended on a high note from getting hurt to going out there and pitching my ass off," Bates posted to Instagram. "Baseball I'm not done with you."
He also had a message for those who might think queer folks can't play and succeed in professional sports.
"Gay men can play a manly sport if you give us a chance to," he posted.