by Scott Rodd
Originally published: April 4, 2016
In mid-March, Tyler Dunnington walked into Major League Baseball’s Diversity Business Summit in Arizona, summoning the courage to return to the sport he had been forced to quit a year earlier. The goal of the summit was to connect hundreds of LGBT and minority job-seekers with major and minor league baseball organizations. Prior to the summit, Dunnington was simply known as a former relief pitcher in the St. Louis Cardinals’ farm system. Only Cyd Zeigler, a founder of Outsports.com, knew Tyler was gay.
“I was one of the not-so-many players to be given a chance to pursue my dream of being a Major League Baseball player,” Dunnington told Zeigler in an email leading up to the summit. “I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved.”
In an article for Outsports published a week after the summit, Zeigler described the homophobic atmosphere Dunnington encountered in various locker rooms and clubhouses — including players and coaches making remarks about killing gay people. As a closeted gay man, Dunnington felt torn between his passion and his identity, and was left with an agonizing choice.