Transcript for MLB Announces Plan to Fight Homophobia
Major League Baseball. Honoring the late Dodgers player Glenn Burke who. Walked away from the sport in 1980. To be himself and come out of the closet today Major League Baseball stepping up to the plate in his honor a major announcement. The theme of inclusion. And I want to make sure that everybody understands that the history in the integrity based is never going to change. Today is about giving our young players a chance to understand. Their responsibility. As role models that this -- gives them. That former baseball player Billy being. There Overland Dan -- in New York just hours before the all star game in Minneapolis tonight Major League Baseball. Moments ago announcing the new code of conduct to fight homophobia and make the league. More tolerant a major announcement being made today. And of course there are a lot of discussion points to talk about that BBC's politics is here with more on this and Paula this was a huge step for. It really is a huge step and of course this was an initiative from the commissioner himself but -- vacant and he is retiree. And roughly six months this is his last order of business and he stepped to the podium today this is something he's very very passionate about he set a battery a couple notes from that press conference. The reality -- we can never do enough to ensure compete included. Big game is more than a national pastime it is a social institutions taking the equal opportunity. Four he's very passionate about that very passionate about that that we were talking about this little bit earlier on why the timing now it seems as if you have the NFL. You have the NBA. Both with openly gay players on him. Why did it take the -- -- along. Well I think it's a logical next step if you look at the history but they've done since 20112011. Major League Baseball changed its collective collective bargaining agreement to institute sexual orientation as a form but I discrimination. And then last year they work with the New York State attorney general to really. Eight implement work that code of conduct -- that you -- not -- here here the parameters and here's people that you can talk to so for them I spoke with somebody with -- baseball is that this is just and logical next step. Again this is some good commissioners last order of business has he's going out of office and -- -- in this really -- -- -- when nothing's really going on in baseball and every time they can -- spotlight this important -- what are the -- -- talking earlier. The dynamics. You can in the MLB is much different than what it is for the NHL for the and I -- for the NBA just based on the sheer number of games and the length of time the players having to cover. Area like we've been talking this year has been a huge -- -- you've seen active openly gay players come out Indiana out. And in the NBA but Major League Baseball when his back and a half and -- within baseball baseball in -- Tommy analysts were creating that cracked environment we want these guys to feel comfortable. But at the same time. -- these guys are playing sixteen games together. And in the end the day 82 games -- in Major League Baseball these guys are -- clubhouse they 362. Regular season game not counting spring training games. And spring training and then possible post season so he's certainly -- mean as a tightening community. And. Where we've seen the reactions and Michael Sam came out of course and no draft Jason Collins coming out in the NBA. What's the climate -- in the dugout right now I mean our other players gonna have that same kind of mad to Visalia you know what. What did you and your private life is that that's your own business I want to see actually how your performance. Right and I didn't you know everything that happened with Michael -- St. Louis -- -- this is great we know we are off the field. Just shut up and highly valued at some point right I don't think these guys are really didn't care everyone says -- it's a much of the game -- to -- updates the national pastime hobby these guys -- really care as long as. The athletes -- performing and it doesn't become -- headline. Outside of the game in of itself. What about the fans as -- because as you're watching the news comes to an earlier -- -- and we were looking across there. And folks were invited in there and it was obviously a very much representation of the country a mountain Watson is -- kind of this is there that fan acceptance out there. I think. That he said in this press conference he says the history and the integrity of the game won't change. We're not asking you to -- tight state misses an opportunity for everyone in Major League Baseball to be the best they can be. And -- for players to have a place to go someone to talk to you again history the integrity of the game won't change he's speaking to those fans. That may have. A problem and it and he himself. Now being the ambassador in the face and sort of live that the mouthpiece -- for those that may have this kind of -- -- hidden you know. Anxiety. Right he said that that was may -- may be his biggest regret he left the game because he's about change he didn't really know how to handle and these players they just need somebody to talk to you and that's that he is there are -- ambassador conclusion and not just for those this it would he had sexual orientation we're talking. Anything that would fall under Clinton this is the -- -- -- go talk to sometimes you just need to listen here. Here's a bit more of what Billy -- head during this afternoon's news conference. As a young player. I was trying to play. With the very difficult -- created. And I was living a life of deception and secrecy. From my family my friends that people that loved me and the people I love the most. And as well as my teammates. And at the time. After ten years of playing in the -- I felt the best decision was to quit and walk away. -- to reach out. Ask someone for a little guidance. Little help or even talk to my own family. And it wasn't much long after that after I had walked -- and I realize how much I loved baseball and what a terrible mistake that felt like. And for the past fifteen years of my life. I have been dedicated to try to make here that no young athlete has made that same mistake. Because -- and unable to play. You realize what a gift it is what an honor it is. In today. I'm very proud that an obvious recognizing. The social responsibility. In the importance. Of this. Decision. To provide. An inch you're an equitable. And inclusive workplace. The significance of that -- and then of course the timing of it as well ahead of tonight's all star game which Glen Burks family was invited by commissioner. To attend tonight's game -- you know -- they attending. Yes his -- sister is is attending the game as well as his -- and of course comfort -- -- tragically. About twenty years ago but again bottom line from today commissioner bud C -- saying that we just let these players to be who they are and immediately based on -- when. You know batter YouTube batter and that's clearly what region based Palestinian. The bottom line right there and -- -- historical announcement -- affairs thank you so much I appreciate that. Right now I want to bring in it said Ziegler co-founder of -- sports -- it's an LG BT sports news website and -- is joining us now from my LA bureau said thank you so much obviously a historic day today. He's been involved with several high profile players coming out you you helped with Michael sands announcement you were actually involved in planning his announcement. Why don't you think that we've seen an active player in Major League Baseball cannot just yet. Because none of them have been ready and you look get the National Hockey League there's probably been no -- -- -- over the last five years that has really embraced. LG BT -- like the NHL and NHL players. In poll after poll after poll say they are most ready for a gay teammate. Yet there's -- there that the only league where there's never bend and openly gay active or retired professional player. So you know. Major League Baseball is building a a environment of inclusion in the clubhouse. But at the end of the day people coming out publicly it just depends on when one person has threatened do it and the -- an answer there -- Why it hasn't happened at one person has not been -- and do it. Billy -- as we just heard there obviously taken a very public very prominent role in this being brought on as the ambassador for inclusion came out. In 19994 years after he retired from the Major League you know Billy personally what what does he said about this new role. He told me over the weekend that it felt ironic that he was going back to baseball to fix the reason that he -- He left in 1995. Shortly after his partner died -- if you know the story but his partner died. When he was playing with the San Diego Padres and Billy decided. That instead of sharing with his teammates that he had to go to is -- funeral he decided to skip the funeral and they'll play game. And that has stuck with -- I think for the rest of his life -- -- -- an opportunity I think to. Kind of shed that and bury the past and really may create. Environment of inclusion in baseball where nobody. Has to make that choice ever again to this is very personal for him. It is a personal narrative and it is obviously very symbolic being ahead of the all star game tonight it's a very public effort. By the MLB to overcome. An anti gay stigma to make it more inclusive is it enough is there more to be done. To encourage players to feel comfortable to come out. -- and I I think they're going to do that you know -- hope that Major League Baseball. Chooses to partner with organizations. That. Put LG BT athletes first. Billy wants to do that Billy wants to work with organizations from the old -- -- -- sports coalition. I hope that Major League Baseball. Sees what organizations do good work and what organizations are simply there to. Promote themselves and they partner with people who really want to move the needle. Just a little bit I when it -- your thoughts on Billy's comments limit earlier today. Every word every action is documented. And I've learned firsthand. What it means when someone. Says something. Negative maybe it's a joke something sexist. Something that was not meant for anyone else to hear that it's damaging to someone. When they look up to that person so today I just think that baseball. Is proving. That history remain intact and they're going to continue to lead. Instead of follow and watched -- -- -- lines. The -- when asking your thoughts about that where do you think players find the most obstruction to themselves to -- to being honest with themselves is it. In the dugout is it in a locker rooms or is it with the fans. It it's their teammates I believe -- -- -- The language that they here in the locker -- I hear this over and over and over again from the athletes whom I wrote about right about when they when they -- to come out that it really was. Hearing anti gay slurs. Sexist language constant talk about sex with the women. Those conversations that that. Gay athletes gay -- athletes in Major League Baseball just don't feel they can honestly be a part of when the conversation constantly revolves around. Being -- -- -- wears a gay person supposed to go with that they can hide that they can lie they can pull themselves away. Billy left the entire sport because of -- so there really is that language in the locker room and hopefully. Between Billy and other organizations that hopefully -- visible work with -- you can play project to go athletes. And the stand -- foundation and others. Hopefully they can combat that and and and helped people understand the importance of being pro active. With messages of inclusion -- -- -- -- ask you about this is by the -- have an impact do you think today's announcement is gonna have. -- major league baseball players of the future meaning the teams taking chances on the drafting an openly gay player. I'm I'm not sure what what effect it will have on teams drafting it openly -- -- I think they would today as much as they will five years from now again. The teams want to. Teams want to win in baseball the draft matter how many rounds it is but so many players get drafted. The idea of Major League Baseball teams would draft a gay players. It is nonexistent but I think this. I think that -- the announcement of Billy. You know having a gay man -- symbol of this and hopefully have a gay man really drive. The direction of what Major League Baseball does that super important. You know as a bunch of straight people. On that podium and then one day god they need to bring more -- LG BT voices into what they're doing. Straight people don't understand these issues the way LG BT people -- I really hope baseball listen very carefully to a Philly has to say. And partners with other LG BT organizations that is an interesting point about the visual aspect of today's announcement obvious -- the very significant first step forward. -- ziglar founder of out sports dot -- -- thank you so much we certainly appreciate your time and your insight for joining us today. A major day for Major League Baseball today of course all ahead of tonight's all star game and you can stay up to date with the latest on this story in real time by downloading the ABC news -- and star and story. For exclusive updates on the go. For now. I'm -- -- -- New York.
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