Joe Torre’s been taking plenty of heat for his tell-all “The Yankee Years”, and his role in other books, for that matter, but one of the things that came out of his inevitable media slobbing to tout the tome was a rather noble gesture, and one that, to the best of our knowledge, hasn’t been taken up by any other notable sports celebrities: He’s advocating gay players come out of the closet.
When Torre was on LARRY KING LIVE, one viewer wrote in asking if he saw a time in the future where gay players, like Billy Bean, wouldn’t have to wait until retiring to come out of the closet. Torre’s answer was pretty unequivocal, and unwavering: He hopes they can already.
Here was the full exchange, via the blog OUTSPORTS.com:
Ventura, Calif., Viewer: Billy Bean, after he retired, he announced he was gay. Do you forsee a time in the future when an active player can safely announce he’s gay and if he did, what effect would that have on Major League Baseball?
Joe Torre: Well that’s a great question, I don’t know. But I just hope that an active player, if that’s the case, can feel free to do that. That’s all I can say. But I don’t know. Obviously, you have 25 players in the clubhouse, and, you know, it’s going to be tough for everybody to feel as maybe I do. But I’d like to believe our country is turning in that direction.
Larry King: You’d have no problem?
Torre: I’d have no problem.
So, what’s stopping them? Undoubtedly, the fear of layers of prejudice and scorn are still out there, and that alone is enough to keep most homosexuals in the closet. Then there’s an added layer of pressure from the unknown. John Amaeche was eventually able to come out because of his own independent spirit. After all, he was European? The same influx of foreign talent to MLB is much more conservative, generally Catholic, and hailing from macho-centric Latin America.
That’s not to say it can’t happen, it just indicates that we’re still missing a single, transcendently brave individual who’s willing to make it his or her priority. If anyone has that person in mind, we’d love to hear who it is. And no, gay or not, Mike Piazza doesn’t count. He’s retired.