Billie Jean King is a tennis legend and an icon for LGBTQ equality. She’s also a minority owner with Ilana Kloss of the Los Angeles Dodgers, which makes her comments on having an out gay baseball player relevant.
“It does bother me,” that there are no openly gay players in Major League Baseball, King said in an interview with Phillip Zonkel of QVoiceNews. “It would help if a player who was young and popular came out. If one person came forward, it would be great.”
There has never been an active Major League Baseball player who was openly gay or bi. Billy Bean, a player with the Dodgers, Tigers and Padres, came out in 1999 after retiring and is now an executive in MLB’s front office. David Denson came out while with the Milwaukee Brewers minor league system in 2013, but he never played in the major leagues.
King, 75, said one reason gay players stay closeted is that “nobody feels safe to come out. It’s still an old boys club.”
She has a point. This season, George Springer of the Houston Astros was punished for using a gay slur during a game. Last season, three players had to apologize for anti-gay comments, some several years old, which surfaced on their Twitter feeds.
If any team would seem ready to embrace an openly gay player it would be the Dodgers.
Another part-owner, Magic Johnson, has a gay son. A team vice president, Erik Braverman, is openly gay. And the team’s LGBT Pride night this season sold 12,000 tickets and was the most-attended regular season game at Dodger Stadium in seven years.