SBD/September 24, 2012/People and Pop Culture

Former Pirates Owner Kevin McClatchy Acknowledges He Is Gay

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McClatchy hopes his story inspires young gay people pursuing a career in sports
Former Pirates Managing General Partner & CEO KEVIN MCCLATCHY “took pains not to let his players, the owners of other teams or anyone beyond a tiny circle of family and close friends learn that he was gay,” according to a profile piece by Frank Bruni of the N.Y. TIMES. The profile was was his “first public acknowledgement of his sexual orientation.” McClatchy at the age of 33 “became the youngest owner in major league baseball when he led a group of investors” in ’96. He stepped away in ‘07, but it “took five years for him to reach the point where he felt even remotely comfortable” talking about his private life. McClatchy said over the last four decades, “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 remains “well known in baseball,” and has been “informally advising” Sacramento Mayor KEVIN JOHNSON on the city’s interest in an MLB team. McClatchy said, “I think I was more paranoid, for sure, about people. And suspicious, definitely. And angry.” He had not told anyone in his immediate family “until just before his purchase of the Pirates, and did so then, he said, only because someone displeased with the deal threatened to go public with a rumor of McClatchy’s sexual orientation unless he backed out.” McClatchy said, “In the back of my mind was: ‘What are you doing? You’re going into the most public arena possible with a secret.’ I made a choice to follow what my passion was.” McClatchy: "You’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue. And there’s no dialogue right now.” He added, “I’m sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it” (N.Y. TIMES, 9/22).

HONESTY REIGNS: McClatchy said prior to his group buying the Pirates, “We were in a very tenuous position. Two other groups were trying to buy the Pirates and I was convinced that if we weren’t successful, they would have moved somewhere else.” He added, “You understand you’ve got to keep the team there and (sexual orientation) is an issue that wouldn’t have played well. That’s just my opinion.” In Sacramento, Marcos Breton noted McClatchy “hopes his story can give strength to young people pursuing the dream of a career in sports.” McClatchy said, “This could be a systemic problem within sports. The best thing that could happen is that the leadership in all the leagues had a dialogue. … This needs to go down to the coaches, the college coaches, the high school coaches.” Breton wrote, “As McClatchy spoke, I could hear the relief in his voice and the strength of someone who had stepped out of the shadows and wasn’t afraid anymore” (SACRAMENTO BEE, 9/23). McClatchy: “I hope kids will know if you want to play sports, as long as you love the game, that’s enough. You don’t have to hide your life” (TRIBLIVE.com, 9/22).
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