The former head trainer for the Chicago White Sox alleges in a lawsuit that the team fired him in 2020 for being gay, a charge the team denies.
Brian Ball, 50, filed the suit in Cook County, Illinois, court saying he was dismissed because of his sexual orientation, age and disability. He is seeking monetary and punitive damages. The White Sox say all the charges in the suit are baseless.
Ball worked for the team for 20 years before being promoted to head trainer in 2018. According to the suit, Ball says the team learned he was gay before he was promoted.
In July 2020, Ball was the victim of car jacking and took a medical leave. When he was cleared to return a month later the team did not bring him back, and in October told him he was being fired, according to the suit.
General manager Rick Hahn in September 2020 “made continuous statements to other athletic training-strength conditional personnel that Brian Ball had either a gambling, alcohol or drug addiction that was related to the July carjacking. None of those accusations were or are true,” the suit says, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The suit says that in December, Ball was told by a “White Sox management-level representative” that “based on a knowledgeable White Sox senior management representative disclosure, [Ball’s] termination ... was based on his sexual orientation.” His attorney told WGN that there are witnesses who can back that up.
“As players in the minor leagues dream of becoming big league players, trainers dream of being a big league trainer and so to get that opportunity I was just blown away,” Ball told WGN.
As for the firing, he said, “It even makes it even worse that it happened from you know some place where you grew up, from home and probably that’s what’s most disheartening of the whole thing.”
Ball says he has not found work since being fired.
The White Sox issued a strong denial to Ball’s charges and say he was dismissed for cause.
“The Chicago White Sox organization categorically denies the baseless allegations made by former Head Trainer Brian Ball in his lawsuit against the club.
“It is extremely disappointing that a former colleague, who was supported, developed and promoted over two decades, chose to attack the club in this way. It is also surprising to many who know Brian, and supported him throughout his career, to read the allegations included in his lawsuit.
“The Chicago White Sox are unified against discrimination in any form and support anti-discrimination laws that provide protection to those wronged by an employer. Those laws are essential to protecting anyone who has been victimized by discrimination and to creating a culture of empowerment and opportunity for all individuals.
“Brian’s dismissal from the organization was based on his performance and did not run afoul of any of the protections afforded to employees under the law.
“Although we do not intend to provide further comment until this matter is resolved, we are committed to vigorously defending the club’s reputation against Brian’s meritless allegations, including the pursuit of all remedies under the law.”
“This is bigger than me,” Ball told WGN about why he is suing. “We have no choice but to fight this fight. This could change history. It’s going to impact baseball for decades.”