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Gay ump: There are more of us out there

(This story was published in 2007).

By: Ross Forman

There are two gay umpires in Major League Baseball. Maybe more, but at least two, saysTyler Hoffman, a gay former minor league umpire who has had a face-to-face conversation with one and traded emails with the other.

Neither is out, nor expected to come out anytime soon.

"One is a guy who has been around for a while; one is a relative newcomer," said Hoffman, who umpired in the minor leagues from 1996-99 and retired after spring training in 2000.

Hoffman has spoken with the veteran umpire. "His whole thing is, I've been around for a while; the league respects me; other umpires respect me; guys pretty much have it figured out by now, so there is no need for me to actually come out and say ‘I'm gay.' He doesn't feel like he actually needs to publicize it.

"That's his point of view, though I think it would be really beneficial to the community and sports in general if he did come out, but that's my perspective."

Hoffman said he has only chatted online with the younger gay major league umpire, and the umpire claims he "absolutely, no way in hell" will he ever come out while active.

Dave Pallone umpired professionally for 18 years, the last 10 in the National League. He left the game after the 1988 season and is gay.

Hoffman, now 31, a financial advisor living in Vancouver with his partner of eight years, Randy Lauzon, said there were five gay umpires during his time in the minors, "but I didn't know they were gay until I left the game."

And there are still some active gay minor league umpires, he said.

"They're there," Hoffman said.

Hoffman umpired Class-A and Double-A baseball in the Arizona, Northwest, Midwest, California and Southern Leagues.

"The first three years that I was out of baseball, yeah, I really missed it and I really second-guessed myself (about retiring)," he said. "But it's been almost seven years now, so those thoughts don't enter my mind as much as they used to."

Hoffman came out to his parents at 18 or 19, just before going to Umpire School. Five years later, after baseball, he came out to most of his friends.

"I tried to keep [my sexuality] as quiet as possible for those five years, just to make sure that the chance of advancement wasn't going to get tossed away [because of my sexuality]," Hoffman said. "There was absolutely no way I would have been out [while umpiring]. I was completely frickin' terrified [about being discovered to be gay].

Hoffman said he decided to leave the game in 2000 because there was not much opportunity for advancement and, he just re-assessed his life.

"I literally walked on the field one night and said to myself, ‘OK, Tyler, is everything you're sacrificing in your life worth the three hours of magic on the field, being on the road 200 days a year, living out of a suitcase, knowing that nothing was really going to change?' And the answer was, no."

However, Hoffman contemplated a ground-breaking 2000 season, since he had started dating Lauzon the previous fall.

"When I went back in 2000, I was going to do the full season and be completely out, just to prove a point. But then I thought, ‘Is it really worth it?'" Hoffman said. "The reason I could have done that was, I had nothing to lose."