Former Pittsburgh Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy revealed that he is gay, going public in an interview with Frank Bruni of The New York Times. McClatchy was the owner and CEO of the Pirates from 1996 to 2007. The newspaper heir acknowledged how inhospitable the pro sports culture can be to an openly gay player or executive, but he indicated to Bruni that progress must be made in a public forum:
"I think, with everybody, there's a time that feels right, and for me this was a time. 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 said he heard plenty of rumors and speculation about his sexuality while he owned the Pirates but was wary of the consequences of going public with his sexuality. He also consistently heard homophobic slurs as member of the MLB community.
The Pirates have not made the MLB Playoffs since 1992, a 20-year period of woe on the field, of which McClatchy oversaw a significant portion. He discussed some of the on-the-field and financial struggles that the franchise faced during his ownership, and how that impacted his decision to keep his sexuality private. He feared that coming out could add to the difficult position of the team and put the franchise in jeopardy:
"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."
McClatchy's revelation comes in the same week when Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar was suspended for writing an anti-gay slur on his eye black. No active player in the four major North American pro sports leagues has come out, but the story in the Times comes on the heels of Rick Welts, currently an NBA executive with the Golden State Warriors, publicly disclosing he was gay last year while a member of the Phoenix Suns' front office.