Tyler Dunnington spent 2014 pitching out of the bullpen in the St. Louis Cardinals' minor league system, striking out 29 hitters in 32 innings over two levels. Despite the promising start to his career, he didn't throw a pitch in 2015.
An email Dunnington sent to Outsports and published on Wednesday explained why: Dunnington, who is gay, said he spent the year listening to his teammates toss around homophobic insults, including a conversation discussing possible ways to kill gay people.
"I was also one of the unfortunate closeted gay athletes who experienced years of homophobia in the sport I loved," Dunnington wrote to Outsports. "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."
Dunnington told Outsports he spent his entire career dealing with homophobia. One college coach once allegedly muttered, "we kill gay people in Wyoming." This continued into the pro ranks, when Dunnington was drafted in the 28th round to the Cardinals:
One teammate with the Cardinals mentioned that he has a gay brother. While there was some supportive talk, two teammates in particular questioned their straight teammate on how he could possibly be friends with a gay person, even his brother. They even mentioned ways to kill gay people.
Dunnington wishes to return to baseball, saying his passion still lies with the game. ESPN reported that the Cardinals are "looking into" Dunnington's allegations "very seriously."
"This is very disappointing and our hope is that every player, staff member and employee feels that they are treated equally and fairly," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak told ESPN. "Given the nature of these allegations, I will certainly look into this further."
Michael Rosen is a reporter for Fusion based out of Oakland.