What Could’ve Happened if Baseball’s Mike Piazza Came Out


Are you a professional baseball player who slaps teammates on the ass — and means it? Are you a professional basketball player who showers with teammates — and offers to wash their backs? Are you a professional football player who reviews game plays with teammates — and interprets those criss-crossed Xs and Os somewhat differently? Then America needs you! To come out!

Good for all those gay rights organizations, from Gay Inc. to the grassroots, motivating everyone to run down to Washington D.C. or call your legislator. But none of you could accomplish what an openly gay professional athlete could do with a single Sports Illustrated coming out cover. (Or, for that matter, Broadway’s Take Me Out. But we’re just sayin’.)

Getting paid millions of dollars a year for being a professional closet case means you’re not doing your civic duty, and the situation needs to be rectified, yo!


It has sportswriter Jeff Pearlman calling for you homos in the dugout to take your bunting and jock itch to the heartland, and show fans and followers that their sports heroes just might be pitchers and catchers. (Oh, the terrible puns we could continue with.)

People fear the idea of gay teachers and gay neighbors; literally fear catching “The Gay”—as if it were a strand of swine flu. This is especially true in the sheltered world of professional baseball, where most competitors have devoted their lives to the singular, non-thought-provoking tasks of seeing-ball, throwing-ball, hitting-ball, catching-ball. The major leagues are the domain of Maxim and strip clubs; of long-legged, large-breasted girlfriends and “Check out the blonde eight rows up …” mid-game commentaries. In the mid-1990s, an American League superstar confided in a small number of peers that he was gay, but insisted the information never be released. His reason? Fear of banishment. “Baseball just doesn’t lend itself to accepting gays,” says Billy Bean, the former major league journeyman who came out of the closet after retiring. “There’s very little empathy for people like me.”

Indeed, it has been 10 years since [former MLB athlete Billy] Bean announced that he was gay, and any initial hopes of change within the sport have been largely dashed. Bean has waited and waited and waited for an active player to stand up and say, “I’m a homosexual. So what?” but he no longer holds his breath. “There’s just so much to lose,” he says. “Your contract, your teammates’ trust, your place. Do I wish I came out when I was active? Yes, I do. But I wanted to be accepted, just like everyone else. Who would have accepted me if they knew I was gay?”

Yet here’s the mild shocker: In the aftermath of Bean’s announcement, a handful of high-profile big leaguers—Trevor Hoffman and Brad Ausmus among them—not only embraced Bean’s words, but spoke out on his behalf. “It wouldn’t have made a difference to me [when we were teammates],” said Ausmus, “and it doesn’t bother me now.” Brian Johnson, Bean’s Triple A roommate and a future Padres catcher, called his old chum and said, “I wish you had told me back then. I would have supported you 100 percent.”

Now, a decade after Bean’s courageous step, the time is at hand. You have the opportunity to be more than a ballplayer; more than just another blah notation buried deep within the pages of the Baseball Encyclopedia. For every 10,000 Bill Brutons and Joe Sambitos, there’s a Curt Flood. For every 10,000 Paul Blairs and Jack Clarks, there’s a Robinson.

Just be sure you’ve healthily invested all those contract dollars, because they’re about to stop flowing. Now everyone together: “Take me out to the ball game, take me to the crowd …”

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  • Wisconsin Gay

    We need not only an openly gay player in professional sports, but an openly gay baseball /STAR/.

    Billy Bean had a career average of .226, five home run and 53 RBIs. Not stellar. While I’m even surprised Bean did disclose his sexuality (and I’m proud of him for it) he doesn’t advance the cause as much as a big name would.

    There’s a reason Jackie Robinson was such a big deal.
    1) Since his barrier was his skin he was inherently “out.” We’ll need a college player or someone early in their career to come out to have the same effect.
    2) Robinson was quite good. BA of .311 and took the Dodgers to six pennants. There’s a reason that his number is the only one retired across ALL of baseball. If Robinson had broken the barrier and sucked, I’m not sure that would have happened.

    I’ve heard rumblings of a few players, including Ryan Braun of my Brewers, but nothing concrete or fair to really talk about in earnest.

    I long await the day that someone proves that homos aren’t sissies and can slug and/or throw with the best of them.

  • hardmannyc

    Someday a MLB player will come out, but it won’t be Piazza because he’s not gay. Next!

  • CHIP

    Was that mid-1990’s superstar the same one who was dating Out’s editor? If so, it was an American League East Coast star…which means Red Sox, Yankees, or Orioles. Orioles would be Brady Anderson or Roberto Alomar…

  • Fitz

    I wouldn’t have the guts to be out.. not because of the peers, but because of the rednecks and right wing-nuts you have to face every day. I am not saying they shouldn’t. I am just acknowledging that I am not that gutsy.

  • AlwaysGay

    Anti-gay bigotry is to blame for gay people being closeted and discriminated against no doubt. But gay people have not helped themselves one bit. Gay people are the worst group for supporting their own. Look at any gay magazine and you will see a heterosexual on the cover, the most valuable spot on a magazine. Most gay people worship heterosexuals. Gay people do the exact things heterosexuals do. Gay people have bought into the whole social hierarchy bs that is fundamental to heterosexuality because they can’t think on their own. Listen, no group is better than another, we are just different. Christopher Isherwood coined the term “heterosexual dictatorship,” no term can be more true. Read his book “The Single Man” and think about it. Gay people still recite the wrong and bigoted idea that any anti-gay bigot must be gay (because you know heterosexuals are pure and perfect *sarcasm*). Gay people still haven’t confronted our oppressors, heterosexuals, or looked at ourselves as independent people and not the group that serves and reinforces heterosexuality.

    If a gay baseball player were to come out he would be on his own. Gay men would not support him, they are too afraid to and too self-hating to. And of course heterosexual won’t either. I don’t think a gay man can handle all the pressure on his own and that’s why none has come out. Today, people’s lives are scrutinizes to the nth degree, that wasn’t the case when Jackie Robinson played baseball. Fans are loud, distracting throughout games now unlike in the 40s and 50s where they would remain in good order. Gay athletes would have come out by now if they had the support.

    More than 10 years ago Ian Roberts revealed his sexuality while still playing rugby. No man has since done the same.

  • Em


    I read every single blog, article and picture posting on this site daily. I absorb every comment, good and bad.

    I always want to participate in the conversation, but as a straight married woman, I cant speak of what gay friends go through, so I keep quiet, out of respect.

    Your posting made me sad, and confused; yet I can’t put my finger on it.

    Part of me wants to defend myself– I would support an openly gay athlete…but who knows, maybe i am in the minority.

    Part of me wants to give you a hug for having to keep a wall up from your own. Like I said, I read everything here, and notice the harshest, most nasty comments I have EVER heard (about the gay community) come from gay men. It never occurred to me that the most hateful comments could come from the people I would expect to support me.

    Another part, wonders how much of your posting isn’t a self fulfilling prophecy. Kinda sounds like you are allowing yourself to play the victim. “heterosexual dictatorship” well, I guess… if you allow yourself to be dominated. But again, I dont walk in your shoes, so I cannot pass judgment.

    Ultimately, I think someone needs to just do it (no sports pun intended) Sure, being the first is always the hardest, but if everyone keeps looking around, waiting for the savior…no one will ever step forward. And while the reasons may be valid, in the end they are just excuses.

    Anyway, there you have the confused ramblings of an outsider. Take it as you may.


  • AlwaysGay

    @Em: I’m not a victim, I acknowledge the uncomfortable truths.

  • Scott

    Forget the players. Theo Epstein may give me some lovin’ anytime he wants!

  • Em


    I guess that is where my confusion sets in. I certainly dont think you desire to be a victim, nor do i really think you are one.

    Maybe it is my own desire to defend my “own”…even though we dont deserve defending. You have every right to be angry…hell, i am angry. See, more confusion.

    Humph… that is why I am here. To bust down these walls and my own misconceptions. Thank you for helping me.


  • Scott

    Any votes for Arod to come out? Hanging out with Madonna, into jewish mysticism, and those eyes. The first time I saw those eyes I thought to myself, “he’s straight?”.

    Before you say that he’s been married, so was someone I dated a long time ago. He had two kids. Through a series of tragic events the kids died, his father and father-in-law died, he got malaria, had a heart attack, and his wife divorced him while he was in the hospital. When asked why he didn’t marry again he used his story as a cover. Arod could be using Madonna as a beard. People assume she’s a homewrecker but maybe not.

  • Jaroslaw

    Where are the photos from on this post and who are the players? Esp. that crotch grab one?? This can’t be regular baseball can it?

    And AlwaysGay, I’m kind of with EM on a couple points. Your post is kinda confusing to me to. For instance, you say if a Gay baseball player would come out, Gay men wouldn’t support him. What exactly does that mean? Are all Gay men baseball fans? What precisely should we do as “Gay men” to support an out baseball player?

    Gays worship heterosexuals? Is there data for such a position or is that your opinion? Now there is data that the anti gay bigot is very often Gay. A number of studies have shown the most anti-gay college guys have a lot of erectile response to Gay porno! Explain that one!

    I’m not against you of course, and there is always some truth to the idea an opressed group is hardest on its own but it is not overarching as you suggest. I find there are mostly indifferent people in the world, quite a few who are self absorbed and if one is very lucky, you’ll have several very good friends. I’m speaking of people in all “groups.”

  • Chip

    Check me on this: It seems to me that it would be easier for a football or basketball player to come out than a baseball player. Reason: In a football game or basketball game you’re in the game with your teammates all the time. In a baseball game, there’s that part when you’re up to bat, all by yourself, center stage, vulnerable to boos and hisses from the crowd.
    What about this?

  • Jaroslaw

    Seems like a good point Chip.

  • AlwaysGay

    @Jaroslaw: Think. The study you are referring to has been misrepresented. The researchers couldn’t find any non-prejudiced HETEROSEXUAL males so they broke them up into moderately and extremely anti-gay. Both groups became fully erect when watching heterosexual and lesbian pornography, which proves they were HETEROSEXUAL because gay men don’t get erections from lesbian porn. They then showed them gay porn, both became SLIGHTLY aroused but the extremely anti-gay group more so. Recent studies on sexuality has shown that heterosexual males because aroused twice as much by looking at gay male porn than do gay men looking at lesbian porn but no where close to getting full erections.

    I don’t have to look at data to know that gay people place heterosexuals on a pedestal. All I have to do is look at “gay” media; porn, magazines, books. At the GLAAD Media Awards the last and biggest award is given to a heterosexual. I know most gay people value heterosexuals more than gay people (just like heterosexuals).

    Support a gay athlete by cheering him or her on. Encourage them to excel.

  • jason

    I would much rather a bisexual baseball player. “Gay” is too safe. The mainstream is more offended by male bisexuality, so to come out as a male bisexual is more challenging to society as a whole.

  • Kid A

    @jason: Ding ding ding!

  • galefan2004

    I really dislike calls to come out of the closet. Rather you remain closeted or not is a personal choice and that choice is made for a variety of different reasons. That being said, if a gay sports star wanted to come out I have to be honest that I probably wouldn’t support him not because he was gay, but because I simply don’t like sports.

  • CMYK

    Baseball has more players who “ping” than any other sport, I think. Unfortunately, (and this is coming from someone who watches every Cubs game every season) it’s also a very conservative sport. I imagine it would be more difficult to be an openly gay baseball player than, say, an openly gay soccer player, if only because baseball tries so hard to be a flag-waving “pastime.”

    Anyway, the Cubs bench seems to hold at least one adorable queer, and possibly two.

  • Joanaroo

    Hi! I live in PA in the area where Mike Piazza grew up and whether or not he is gay, and even though it’s very close to Philly, I assume coming out is difficult for some in this area. Chester and Montgomery counties are both blue and white collar but we are close to the more Republican Lancaster County. I would love to hear how those from this area fared when coming out.

  • D-Sun

    Football seems more appropriate, doesn’t it?

    The tight end puns practically write themselves.

  • dgz

    okay, i know this isn’t a baseball story, but…

    i was walking through Philly before an eagles game against dallas. a bunch of kids walked by with their parents, headed to the game. the kids were all wearing “Romo’s A Homo” tees.

    this leads me to think that coming out as a pro athlete wouldn’t just be harder than as an actor/musician, it might be downright dangerous. i mean, have you seen the fights they get into? and the crazy hooligan-fans?

    if actors and musicians won’t come out, i’m not holding my breath for athletes.

  • Bitch, please!

    Yeah, yeah, yeah, to the talking heads. But Jaroslaw and I still want to know if the posted pics are real baseball players, especially the crotch grabbing one? And if so, who are they?

    And here is my two cents in the discussion of how some gays place straight men on a pedestal: It is most obvious when some gays want “straight acting” and “straight appearing” in their perfect mates. And the irony is that this is usually from the most effeminate among us! WTF?

  • GMB

    Of course… the classic objection to having a gay teammate are the supposed discomforts of the locker room… so I’ve got to ask…


    Why do athletes shower together?

    No really. Is it just tradition? It has to be. It can’t be because they get hot and sweaty…

    Cuz hey, so do auto-mechanics. And steelworkers. And the guys who work the grill at my local burger joint. All hot, sweaty, and gross by the end of their day’s work.

    They don’t shower together.

    Is it because it promotes team camaraderie?

    Well, I’m sure my office could use some better camaraderie while we attempt to tackle our tech issues and survive the economic downfall. But even though my company could certainly afford it, we don’t shower together.

    Is it because… in sports… like in gymnasiums, the shower is just part of the athletic experience?

    Probably. And, like my gym, it’s probably just time to install separate shower and change rooms. People have got to start thinking outside the box.

    Team sports have nothing to do with showers, or the gay men inside them.

  • emceebee

    Ian Roberts is classic example that it can work. He came out while still in the peak of his career. He was one of the big stars of Rugby League at the time. True he was so out and blatant about it he coundn’t stay in the closet much longer but you know what a lot of people respect him for what he did. That said most people never dissed him on the field for being gay. Have you seen the size of the bastard? FUCKING HUGE!!! He would flatten you without even breaking a sweat.

  • Jaroslaw

    #15 Always Gay – There have been several studies, not just one; I don’t have the names or places in front of me but the ones I read about were not showing the results as summarized by you.

    If an anti-gay guy watches Gay porn and he is in theory disgusted by that activity I can’t imagine why he would get a partial or full erection (in the studies I read, they got full erections). It should not arouse him but you say is should. Why? Alternately, Gay guys are aroused by het porn because they are concentrating on the (usually) very good looking, endowed straigh GUY. No mystery here.

    As to het worship – your welcome to your observations – and you may even be correct. But tell me specifics – eg. are you saying 90% (or a preponderance) of the covers of Gay magazines feature straights? Most of the stories in Gay media are about straight people? I don’t see this. Further, unless my understanding of history is incorrect, no minority group advanced by not trying to build bridges and allies in the main culture.

    Perhaps I have a very different circle of Gay friends – but I don’t know any who are NOT supportive of Gay athletes. Most everyone I know is thrilled and proud when someone comes out who is attractive, smart, a leader in their field. Why wouldn’t they be? Anything that dispels stereotypes is a plus in my book.

  • AlwaysGay

    @Jaroslaw: You don’t know what you are talking about. There has only been one study on penis response to gay porn by anti-gay bigots.

    89% of Attitude magazine (a supposed gay magazine) covers are of heterosexuals.

  • jason

    I personally don’t want an athlete to come out as gay if he is in fact bisexual. It would be dishonest. Yes, I’d love for a player to come out as either, but only so long as it’s an honest self-appraisal.

  • Jaroslaw

    #27 – I read a lot – and everything that has been studied or referenced is not on the internet. I know there has been more than one study about response to Gay porn by bigots. Name the study since you are so sure there is only one and I’ll research over the w/e and get back to you.

  • Jaroslaw

    And anyone – – – Queerty? Where are these photos from and who are they?

  • Andramata

    @Bitch, please!: I don’t usually agree with you but I’m next to you on that. I, myself, am a masc guy. I’m not straight acting I’m a man’s man. I find it funny when you see looking for straight acting only and then you meet then and they are far from straight acting; more like “S” nothing straight about them. I like manly men. I once dated a basketball player from chicago and we would meet up in hotels or I’ll travel to a game. know one knows that he is gay. and he is terrified that someone may find out. He dates women. I’m like his boy out in public. He said he will never come out because of the things they say do act in the locker room if they suspect you are gay. You can support the gay players if they come out. but the day to day life of an athlete is not fun. If you have a team of 20 and you are the only out one. Guess what. tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are. Even if some were gay they would not want to be caught dead with him cause it’s guilty by association. It’s hard when you have homophobes as team mates, Endorsement deals, family to deal with, being ridiculed by fans, Going some where and hearing the dreadful word, “Faggot”. Would you want to go through all of that just to please the gay society and come out? I think not. it’s easier said than done. I’m still not out at work. I’m out too all my friends but I’ve been working the same job for 5 years and no on knows my business. It should matter who I sleep with as long as I get the job done. And the first player to come out while still playing or under contract should know that it will be a slippery road up hill. So weigh the pros and cons not everyone can come out or had the support some of you had coming out. I still talk to him we don’t don’t really hang like we use too. but I got an in dept behind the scene real life closeted gay athlete and I felt and still fell sorry for him cause every story he told and tells his teammates about sex he has to lie and say she was hot instead of me (lol) or he was hot. I’m sure that out of 20 guys 4 of them are gay or have had gay experiences. but will they fess up? No. For some reason (some of us know) that the minute you tell a straight guy you are gay or they find out. they automatically think that you are less of a man and they are more of a man than you are. Or think you want to jump in bed with them. So it’s harder than you think. it’s not high school or your parents. It’s being exposed to the world. When most of you came out you told whoever. Sorry to say but you didn’t make the 6 o’clock news or sports center, or the Daily News that you are out. Some of you won’t care and may love the publicity but when you work in the public eye they want nothing more than to see you raise and fall even faster.

  • AlwaysGay

    @Jaroslaw: Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal? by Henry Adams, Lester Wright, Jr., and Bethany Lohr

    Men can become aroused when they are anxious. That is another possibility of why heterosexual males have a much larger arousal to gay male porn than gay men do to lesbian porn.

  • galefan2004

    You see, what makes this so incredibly funny to me is that when one of the minor league baseball stars came out (maybe Billy Bean), my pastor at the time (of a Baptist spin off church) said in the middle of his church that he would go gay for the dude. My pastor is married with children, but he has always been a very awesome guy, but I will never forget that conversation. It was quite refreshing.

  • Bitch, please!

    @Andramata: While I appreciate your response and you agreeing with me “this one time”, I am not sure that I said anything about the tribulations of coming out as a famous person. I agree that while my coming out may not make the six ‘o clock news but, for many like me, it is challenging enough within our own, “nondescript”, circle of family and friends. Unlike our rich and famous counterparts, many out gays still have to trudge on in a hostile homophobic environment, but, now, without the support of family and friends. They don’t get plaques for their “bravery for coming out”, in fancy dinner parties and what not. So really, each has their own set of problems and none is easier, at least not yet.

  • galefan2004

    @Bitch, please!: I actually got lucky. My best friend at the time I came out was very supportive and came out himself about six months later. My brother has been very supportive the last 4-5 years. My father just never wanted to talk about my homosexuality, but he was very supportive of everything I actually did. My mom still thinks I can be “turned straight,” and she will probably always think that. I’m sure you don’t care though. I don’t blame you. My point is that even in small town middle America (in my case Ohio), you would be surprised at the very different experiences received when coming out. In contrast, my best friend never really did come out to his parents as far as I’m aware, even though his mother asked him if he was gay and he told her he wasn’t.

  • CC

    Mike Piazza should have come out of the closet. Instead, he chose to pay women to trumpet his heterosexuality. He even had a press conference. I don’t think you need gaydar to know what that means…

  • Joanaroo

    It’s sad to hear of the difficulties faced by those coming out to family and friends, and dgz, Andramata, and Bitch, please all touched on the fact that the public makes it harder for athletes coming out. I know, dgz, fans in Philly can be very crude and make extremely homophobic remarks to athletes.

  • Jaroslaw

    Always Gay – I hate to concede – but I guess you’re right, at least with the limited time I’ve had to do research. There was only one arousal study done. Amazing. Unfortunately I can type really fast and have limited access to the net – what I was really driving at was homophobic men are very often closeted, or latent Gays themselves (to be clear, I mean guys who are Gay that don’t want to admit it to themselves) in my opinion. Alas, upon further examination it seems even these studies show mixed results, disputed methodologies etc.

    However, having said all that, I don’t know how even a professor of homophobia could say so much is “disputable.” (one actually responded to my e-mail) – our society is so homophobic, boys have to walk and talk a certain way, etc. etc. “REAL men do or don’t do this or that…” Yet so many societies over the centuries have actually had homosexual rituals, puberty things etc. incorporated into their growing up processes it is hard for me to believe that men in our society have no latent urges. Not saying this right, but I think you get the idea.

  • Matt

    You didnt mention Glenn Burke!

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