It was a complete accident when Sean Conroy became the first openly gay pro-ball player.
It was a complete accident when Sean Conroy became the first openly gay pro-ball player. It wasn’t hat he was in the closet. In fact, it was the opposite — Sean was so out that it wasn’t even considered news. That is, until he made started pitching for the Stompers.
Sean’s story is similar to that of many other baseball players. He grew up playing catch in his back yard, graduated to high school baseball, and eventually played for his college team at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
As a teen, Sean never hid his sexuality from his friends or his teammates.
“I always made friends first and then continued to be myself after I came out to them. It’s like, ‘OK, I was friends with them before, and then I came out, and nothing’s changed.'”
So, when Ben Lindbergh and Sam Miller, who run the baseball operations department at the Sonoma Stompers noticed him, his sexual orientation wasn’t even a topic of conversation.
According to the duo’s new book The Only Rule Is It Has to Work: Our Wild Experiment Building a New Kind of Baseball Team, they just noticed his stats, like any other player they were fielding (pun intended).
“We didn’t know he was gay, for example. Our eyes were just caught by the stats and by the performance. And even though it was RPI, this little Division III engineering school in upstate New York, we just thought, ‘If you can pitch that well in college and you can get college hitters out that effectively, maybe you can do the same thing in the Pacific Association.”
Now, one year later, the team is supportive of Sean through and through. They’ve celebrated pride two summers in a role, most recently in June when they held “Out At The Ballpark” night.
Today, Sean continues to be a role model for gay players.
Lena Finkel is the Editor and Founder of Femestella. Prior to starting Femestella, she worked at People, InStyle, and Tiger Beat. Her favorite Housewife is Bethenny Frankel (by far!), but when she’s not watching RHONY, you can probably find her hanging with her kitty Tom or tweeting at Sen. Chuck Schumer.