Kevin McClatchy, Pitsburgh Pirates owner and CEO from 1996 to 2007, revealed Saturday that he's gay.
In an article to be published in Sunday's New York Times, McClatchy said "he frequently heard homophobic language during his days in baseball. It convinced him that keeping his sexual orientation hidden was best."
In an interview with Times columnist Frank Bruni, McClatchy said of keeping this a secret for so long, "When we took over, the Pirates were last in the league of revenues, last in the league of attendance, and everyone said they’re moving to northern Virginia or Atlanta."
"It would have been, I think, a gamble at that point to come out and do it and if there had been negative reaction, we were living sort of on the edge as far as trying to gain support, gain the public trust to help us get the financing to get a new ball park that was going to keep this team here for the next 30 years," he continued. "I was frightened that my own personal situation could in some way jeopardize the whole franchise."
So why did he decide to come out now?
"I think, with everybody, there’s a time that feels right, and for me this was a time," McClatchy said. "My hope is that it’s going to be able to help younger kids that want to get into professional sports and feel there are still great barriers."
"But I think, more important than that, it needs to create a dialogue about major league sports and sort of the void obviously that exists," McClatchy continued. "Things have changed in a positive way, but there’s still a lot more change to go. So I’m speaking up."
"And I’m sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it," added McClatchy. "But you don’t understand what it’s like in somebody’s else’s footsteps. You don’t understand the pressures that they’re facing at that point."
Bruni asked him if gay athletes in major sports are "worried that if they come out, there will be complaints from their straight counterparts about everyone changing and showering together?"
"I think it’s an overrated issue as a workplace issue," answered McClatchy. "If cops and firefighters and people trying to protect our freedom on the other side of the globe in the military—if they can do it, sports needs to try and get over itself. It shouldn’t be that big a deal."
As ESPN.com reported, McClatchy is not the first current or former major league executive to come out. Phoenix Suns president and CEO Rick Welts exposed his orientation last year.
It will still be interesting to see how McClatchy's announcement is taken by the sports world especially in Pittsburgh.
He is widely recognized as the man that kept the Pirates in Pennsylvania with baseball commissioner Bud Selig having said about him in 2007, "He assumed control of the franchise amid considerable turmoil and during the worst economic period in baseball history."