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White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech apologizes for anti-gay, racist tweets

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The Chicago White Sox pitcher said he used the gay slurs as a teenager.

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Michael Kopech
Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images

Another Major League Baseball player has apologized for anti-gay and and racist tweets sent when he was a teenager.

Michael Kopech, 22, a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox, acknowledged that he deleted tweets he had sent in 2013 when he was 17. Among the tweets were ones were he used “fags,” called someone gay, insulted Mexicans and used a derivative of the N-word. They had been screencaptured by a Twitter user sometime before he deleted them.

“Yeah, I had to delete some stuff,” Kopech told the Chicago Sun-Times on Thursday. “Things I said that were immature and inappropriate. I used some poor language in there. Obviously, I’m trying to be looked at as a role model, and the last thing I want to do is have some kid look at what I’m saying and take it the wrong way.

“It’s unfortunate that I was ever at that point mentally, but it’s not who I am now,’’ Kopech said. “Yeah, I cleaned some tweets up and tried to get rid of them. But, obviously, people saw them. It’s not who I am now, and it’s not who I want to be.’’

Kopech is the fourth MLB player this summer who has had to apologize for offensive tweets. Josh Hader of the Brewers, Sean Newcomb of the Braves and Trea Turner of the Nationals all apologized for tweets sent about seven years ago, when they were 17 or 18 and not yet in the Major Leagues.

The previous three met with MLB executive Billy Bean, a former player who is openly gay, and I would expect Kopech to have a similar meeting. The White Sox said they are satisfied that the tweets don’t reflect the player they know now.

“Michael has been very upfront about his tweets from high school several years ago,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He has taken responsibility and apologized for his offensive and inappropriate word choices at the time, but has stressed that those careless words do not reflect who he is today. It is certainly true they don’t reflect the young man we know as a maturing, growing and developing member of our organization.’’

These four are not isolated instances. Baseball fan Justin Megahan has compiled numerous examples of pro baseball players, some still active, who tweeted gay slurs when they were younger.

“Some of these tweets happened years ago,” Megahan writes. “If a player that tweeted one of these messages were to tell me that they’ve matured and no longer use homophobic language, I could believe that. But I also believe that together these create an accurate representation of the environment that gay players have to contend with at all levels of the game.

“And I could believe that there was no harmful intent by these players when they threw around this language. But I also believe that all of these people have played with gay teammates at different points in their playing days.

“And this homophobic language contributes to the indignities, small and large, that cultivate an environment that systematic prevents gay people from playing baseball at the highest level. That keeps gay players out of the major leagues, off of my television, off of kids playing cards.”

Megahan makes an excellent point. While is easy to forgive someone like Kopech for offensive things said as a teenager, they nonetheless reflect a culture that still finds it acceptable for young people in sports to say such things about gay people and think it’s perfectly OK.