Eugene Emeralds pitcher Solomon Bates throws against the Hillsboro Hops in their first home game of the 2021 season at PK Park in Eugene. Eug 051321 Ems 10 | Chris Pietsch/The Register-Guard via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Solomon Bates, a Minor League Baseball player who was until this week in the San Francisco Giants system, came out publicly on Instagram while also announcing that he is no longer with his team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels.

Shortly after sharing his true self on Instagram, he told Outsports that he had come out to his teammates in 2019, but he’s now coming out publicly to be an example of a successful gay athlete, as well as an inspiration for others like him.

“I haven’t been out as my complete self because I’ve been hiding myself,” he said. “I’m a masculine man who loves the sport of baseball, and now I want to open up doors for gay athletes like me.”

Bates has dropped hints on social media over the last year, including on Twitter. During Pride month, he shared this Instagram post about things bigger than him, also including a rainbow:

He told Outsports that the hint of the rainbow was intentional, a nod to who he is.

“I like to give little hints about myself,” he said. “I hadn’t really said it because I want to be seen as how I handle things professionally. I want people to see my stats and let people know that gay men can play baseball. I was on the verge of doing that, my shot just ended up short.”

Bates has a solid 17-6 record as a pitcher in Minor League Baseball, with an ERA of 4.30.

In his Instagram post today, Bates said he isn’t done with baseball or blazing a trail for gay athletes:

“I’m still going to open up doors for gay athletes like me,” he wrote. “Still will strive to be one of the greatest to do it. … Gay men can play a manly sport if you give us a chance to. Thank you giants, you guys made a new fan. But gave me a chip to keep going. I love all the new friends that I’ve made. I’m not going to cry. I’m going to keep pushing.”

His full post highlighted his stats and his powerful message:

His release comes after a season with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, a Double-A Minor League team in Virginia. He pitched for the Giants in Spring Training, saying that “the Giants made a fan out of me this year.”

Bates is the second active Minor League Baseball player to come out publicly, following David Denson in 2015. While no active player has come out in MLB, other active pro baseball players to come out in independent baseball have included Bryan Ruby and Sean Conroy.

He said that while his future in baseball is uncertain, he’s confident he will land on another team soon.

“I’m just thinking about my next team. Life is good right now. I’m confident I’ll be with a new team in the next few days.”

You can follow Solomon Bates on Instagram, and on Twitter.