The St. Louis Cardinals have said they are taking allegations of homophobia made by former minor league pitcher Tyler Dunnington "very seriously."
Dunnington made the allegations in an email sent to Cyd Zeigler of Outsports.com that was published on the website Wednesday:
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.
I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved. I was able to take most of it with a grain of salt but towards the end of my career I could tell it was affecting my relationships with people, my performance, and my overall happiness.
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 concluded the email by saying, "I not only wanted to share my story, but also apologize for not using the stage I had to help change the game. Quitting isn't the way to handle adversity, and I admire the other athletes acting as trailblazers."
Per Zeigler's report, one specific instance of homophobia occurred when an unnamed college coach said "we kill gay people in Wyoming," a reference to the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming.
Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak wrote in an email to the Post-Dispatch that the team plans to investigate this situation:
This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member, and employee feels they are treated equally and fairly. 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.
The Post-Dispatch added it had contacted Dunnington and Major League Baseball for comment on the story.
The 24-year-old Dunnington was a 28th-round draft pick out of Colorado Mesa in 2014. He played that campaign in two short-season leagues, posting a 3.09 ERA with 29 strikeouts in 32 innings, but he retired before spring training last year.