The St. Louis Cardinals are responding to reports of extremely homophobic language being used in the locker room of its minor league team by saying they are taking the matter “very seriously.”
The reports stem from the public coming out of Tyler Dunnington, a former pitcher for the Cardinals’ minor league team. Speaking with Outsports’ Cyd Zeigler, Dunnington revealed that while on that team he heard teammates discuss how to kill gay people.
Dunnington first contacted Zeigler via email, sharing his journey to self-acceptance:
I was one of the not-so-many players to be given a chance to pursue my dream of being a Major League Baseball player.
I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved. I was able to take most of it with a grain of salt but towards the end of my career I could tell it was affecting my relationships with people, my performance, and my overall happiness.
I experienced both coaches and players make remarks on killing gay people during my time in baseball, and each comment felt like a knife to my heart. I was miserable in a sport that used to give me life, and ultimately I decided I needed to hang up my cleats for my own sanity.
After a little over a year of being gone from the game I’ve come to realize I thought I was choosing happiness over being miserable. That is not necessarily the case. My passion still lies in baseball, and removing myself from the game didn’t change that. Most of the greatest memories I have are with this sport. After gaining acceptance from my friends and family I realized I didn’t have to quit baseball to find happiness.
I not only wanted to share my story but also apologize for not using the stage I had to help change the game. Quitting isn’t the way to handle adversity, and I admire the other athletes acting as trailblazers.
Dunnington later elaborated on his story, saying that in college he heard a coach make a boastful reference to the murder of Matthew Shepard, saying, “We kill gay people in Wyoming.” Playing for the Cardinals organization, he says he heard talk of ‘killing gays’ bandied about in the locker-room. Zeigler writes,
One teammate with the Cardinals mentioned that he has a gay brother. While there was some supportive talk, two teammates in particular questioned their straight teammate on how he could possibly be friends with a gay person, even his brother. They even mentioned ways to kill gay people.
Now, the Cardinals are looking into the report of Dunnington’s experience while on the team’s roster. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports:
“This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member, and employee feels they are treated equally and fairly,” general manager John Mozeliak wrote in an email to Post-Dispatch and MLB.com. “Given the nature of these allegations I will certainly look into this further as well as speak with Billy Bean of the Commissioner’s office for further assistance on this matter…we will take this very seriously.”
Bean is Major League Baseball’s official ambassador for inclusion. A year ago, he was invited by teams to visit during spring training. Mozeliak invited Bean to the Cardinals’ spring training complex and they spoke at length about Bean’s role and goal.
Dunnington, who lives in Washington, is looking to get back into baseball in a MLB team’s front office.
Watch Cyd Zeigler’s interview with Dunnington, below.
[Top photo via Outsports]