First openly gay professional pitcher will make start in minors

Baseball Baseball’s first active professional player to come out as gay pitched a shutout Thursday.The Associated Press reports that Sean Conroy, 23, of the Sonoma Stompers tossed a 7-0 victory in his first start with the team that is part of the independent Pacific Association of Baseball Clubs. Conroy struck out 11 and allowed three hits over nine innings, according to the AP. MORE: Every team’s best ever home-state player | Giants pitcher: Christians should be more accepting of gays”He wanted to be that guy, and coming out here and doing this shows you what kind of man he is,” Tim Livingston, the team’s radio broadcaster, said after the game, according to the AP. “To see this little field here in the middle of nowhere, when we look back it will have been the perfect setting for this.” There was no obvious sign that it was a historic game or even gay pride night at the ballpark, according to the AP. The Stompers did not make a special announcement or call attention to the milestone so Conroy could focus on his pitching, General manager Theo Fightmaster told the AP.But when the starting lineup was announced, Conroy got the loudest cheer.“I’ll be thinking of one, then the other. Then it will go away,” Conroy said before the game. “After the first pitch, everything goes away.”Conroy said he saw coming out publicly as a way to set an example for other players.”It’s not that I wanted it to go public, but I didn’t care if it was open information. It’s who I am,” he said, according to the AP. “I am definitely surprised that no one else has been openly gay in baseball yet.”Conroy hopes to catch the eye of a big league scout but hasn’t focused on much beyond this season, the AP reported.Conroy’s Sonoma teammates knew of his sexual orientation, as did his high school and college teammates.“I’ve always played baseball because it was fun, and I loved the sport,” Co

nroy said before Thursday’s game. “Being gay doesn’t change anything about the way I play or interact with teammates. I hope that in leading by example, more LGBT youth will feel confident to pursue their dreams, whatever those dreams may be.”Several former players, such as Glenn Burke and Billy Bean, came out after their careers ended, but a player had not publicly stated he was gay while active in the majors or minors.The Stompers are not affiliated with any clubs.