Former Cardinals minor leaguer Tyler Dunnington says he quit baseball after hearing homophobic comments made by teammates and coaches.
In a letter to Outsports, Dunnington says he decided to leave baseball after hearing comments about how gay people should be killed.
“I was [one] of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved,” Dunnington wrote. “I experienced both coaches and players make remarks on killing gay people during my time in baseball, and each comment felt like a knife to my heart.
“I was miserable in a sport that used to give me life, and ultimately I decided I needed to hang up my cleats for my own sanity.”
Dunnington told Outsports about multiple homophobic conversations he heard in locker rooms. One coach said “we kill gay people in Wyoming,” while other teammates once questioned another player on how he could be friends with his gay brother.
Dunnington ended his baseball career before spring training last year, telling Outsports the homophobia was affecting his relationships, performance and overall happiness.
“I not only wanted to share my story but also apologize for not using the stage I had to help change the game,” Dunnington wrote. “Quitting isn’t the way to handle adversity, and I admire the other athletes acting as trailblazers.”
According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, both the club and Major League Baseball are taking Dunnington’s allegations “very seriously.”
“This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member, and employee feels they are treated equally and fairly,” general manager John Mozeliak said. “Given the nature of these allegations I will certainly look into this further as well as speak with Billy Bean of the Commissioner's office for further assistance on this matter...we will take this very seriously.”
Billy Bean is an openly gay Major League Baseball executive who has spearheaded the the league’s efforts to combat homophobia.