Coming Out

Newspaper exec, former Pittsburgh Pirates owner comes out as gay

Kevin McClatchy

Kevin McClatchy

Kevin McClatchy, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates and now the board chairman at the McClatchy Company newspaper chain, has come out as gay.

In an interview Sunday in The New York Times, McClatchy, who publishes more than two dozen newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee and The Miami Herald, makes his first public acknowledgement of his sexual orientation.

Kevin McClatchy

Well know in professional sports, McClatchy, at the age of 33, became the youngest owner in major league baseball when he led a group of investors who bought the Pirates in 1996.

For the next 11 years, he was the team’s managing general partner and chief executive officer, not to mention its public face. And for all of that time, he took pains not to let his players, the owners of other teams or anyone beyond a tiny circle of family and close friends learn that he was gay.


McClatchy, whose interview with The Times was his first public acknowledgment of his sexual orientation, could do considerable good. He remains well known in baseball — he’s been informally advising the mayor of Sacramento on the city’s interest in having a major league team — and is the chairman of the board of the McClatchy Company, which publishes more than two dozen newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee and The Miami Herald.

And pro sports offers a frontier on which there’s considerable good to be done. One reason there has been so much attention lately to statements about homosexuality, supportive and derogatory, from prominent male athletes is that they inhabit a stubborn bastion of reductively defined masculinity, and many impressionable kids take their cues from it. If its heroes make clear that being gay is O.K., the impact could be profound: fewer adolescents and teenagers bullied, fewer young and not-so-young adults leading stressful, painful double lives.

McClatchy, 49, said that he frequently heard homophobic language during his days in baseball, and that convinced him that keeping his sexual orientation hidden was best.

McClatchy owned the Pirates from 1996 until 2007. He told the Times that “you’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue. And there’s no dialogue right now.”

To date, no athlete in the four major U.S. professional sports leagues — football, baseball, basketball, hockey — has come out while playing.

Longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, then with the Phoenix Suns, drew national attention last year when he announced that he is gay.

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