Back in late September, former Pittsburgh Pirate owner, Kevin McClatchy (Trinity-Pawling School alumnus) decided that it was time for the truth to prevail — publicly coming out through Frank Bruni’s New York Times column titled, “A New Inning, Late in the Game.”
“The way Kevin McClatchy figured it, he had to choose. He could indulge his dream of presiding over a big-time professional sports team, or he could be open about his sexuality. The two paths didn’t dovetail.
He went with sports, and in February 1996, at the age of 33, became the youngest owner in major league baseball when he led a group of investors who bought the Pittsburgh Pirates. For the next 11 years, he was the team’s managing general partner and chief executive officer, not to mention its public face. And for all of that time, he 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.
He stepped away from the Pirates in 2007, but it took five years for him to reach the point where he felt even remotely comfortable sitting down with a journalist, as he did with me recently at his home here, about 50 miles east of Pittsburgh, to talk about his private life. Secrecy is a hard habit to break. And the world of professional sports, to which he is still connected, isn’t exactly crowded with proud, out gay men and women.
He once did some arithmetic. Over the last four decades, he said: ‘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.’ Nor has any active player in the principal leagues of football, basketball or hockey, America’s three other major professional sports. That silence is a sobering…”(NYT)
McClatchy’s story is entirely modern and current.
We’ve come a long way in our acceptance, and understandings, of one another’s differences (of course we more similar than we’d like to admit), but we’re certainly not as far along as where we should be. Our students should never have to fear, and hide, as did McClatchy.
Speaking to Bruni McClatchy explained,
“’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.”
…’I could find excuses for why not to do this article until I’m blue in the face.
…I’ve got a birthday coming up where I’m turning old, (50th, in January)…I’ve spent 30 years — or whatever the number is specifically — not talking about my personal life, lying about my personal life.
…There’s no way I want to go into the rest of my existence and ever have to hide my personal life again…'(NYT)
As a fellow T-P alumnus and boarding school teacher and administrator, examples like McClatchy’s are incredibly important as gay students work to understand and accept who they are and as adults work to help and support them. He may not know it, but McClatchy may have made the world safer for at least one kid struggling with his sexuality.
I’ll add — it’s never to late. Nice work.