It isn't often that sports officials make history, but Dale Scott has done precisely that by becoming the first active MLB umpire to come out as gay.
According to Jim Buzinski of OutSports.com, the 29-year veteran came out in a profile piece in an October edition of Referee magazine. Ultimately, Scott decided that coming out was the right move in the interest of ensuring the profile's accuracy:
My thought process was is that there's a story about my career and how I got started in umpiring and they're talking to people I have known since junior high and it didn't seem right to have a whole story and pictures without a picture of [husband] Mike [Rausch] and I, someone who's been with me through this entire process. We met the October after my first year in the big leagues.
Obviously, when I sent that picture to [Referee magazine editor] Jeff [Stern], I knew exactly what it meant. In a small way, this was opening that door in a publication that wasn't going to be circulated nationwide. It could be picked up, but it's not Time magazine. I made that decision to go ahead and do it because I felt it was the right thing to do.
Per Buzinski, Scott is not only the first openly gay MLB umpire, but also the first active male official to come out in MLB, the NFL, NBA or NHL.
While the general public is just now learning of Scott's sexual orientation, he made it clear that Major League Baseball has long been aware and supportive of it:
I realized that it could open a Pandora's Box, but this is not a surprise to Major League Baseball, the people I work for. It's not a surprise to the umpire staff. Until Mike and I got married last November, he was my same-sex domestic partner and had his own MLB I.D. and was on my insurance policy.
This is not going to be some huge flashing news to Park Avenue [MLB headquarters], but I also didn't want to be making some coming out story, some banner headline, because that's not how I operate. It's not a shock to MLB management because they're well aware of my situation and it's not a shock to the umpire staff. If it would have been, I don't think I would have done it.
Above all else, the 55-year-old native of Eugene, Oregon, is glad that he has been viewed and treated the same as every other umpire over the course of his career.
"I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else and that's the way it should be," he said.
MLB commissioner Bud Selig released a statement on Scott, according to ESPN's Jerry Crasnick:
Bud Selig issued the following statement in response to umpire Dale Scott's revelation to that he's gay in an interview with Outsports.com: “For 29 years, Dale Scott has been an outstanding Major League Umpire. To his friends and colleagues throughout the game, Dale is universally regarded as a class act. All of us at Major League Baseball are very proud of him, just as we have always been.”
Scott has long been recognized as one of the best umpires in baseball, which is a notion bolstered by the support of players such as former All-Star pitcher Curt Schilling:
It is quite obvious that neither Scott nor Major League Baseball is interested in being spotlighted, but there is little doubt that he will be viewed by many as a hero and inspiration moving forward.
Scott may not view himself that way; however, he can live up to it simply by continuing to do his job at the highest possible level as he's done for so long.
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