Last week, Mike Piazza announced – to the disappointment of many a Chelsea fan – that he is strictly hetero. Prompting us to take a look at the brief history of switch-hitting in our national pastime. (And no, the 1955 Broadway debut of Damn Yankees doesn’t count, despite the cute chorus boys in tight baseball uniforms.)
1982: Ex-outfielder Glenn Burke comes out – and claims that in 1978, L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda shipped him off to the Oakland A’s after he found out he was gay.
1988: Umpire Dave Pallone tells baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti he’s gay; Pallone is later linked to men under investigation for a gay teenage-sex ring. He’s never charged, but Giamatti won’t renew his contract. In his memoir, Pallone says he had an affair with a player and knew several others who were gay.
1999: Chicago Cubs first baseman Mark Grace brushes off gay rumors, saying they come from his being single – “Plus, I get to shower with a lot of men.”
1999: Former outfielder Billy Bean (Dodgers, Tigers, and Padres) comes out, four years after his retirement.
1999: Ben Affleck considers playing a shortstop who has an affair with a second-baseman in the film adaptation of The Dreyfus Affair: A Love Story.
May 2001: Out editor-in-chief Brendan Lemon reveals he’s dating a major-league East Coast player. A year later, Lemon says they’re still together – and that the player’s in therapy.
May 20, 2002: New York Post-er Neal Travis reports a rumor that a local TV star is involved with a Met, who is about to come out.
May 21, 2002: Mike Piazza declares, “I’m not gay.”
August 23, 2002: Public Theater to begin previews of Take Me Out, Richard Greenberg’s play about a gay player. One thing’s for sure: Piazza will be invited to the opening.