Out at Home
December 3, 2014 9:49 AM   Subscribe

"I am extremely grateful that Major League Baseball has always judged me on my work and nothing else"
In a "very quiet and understated way", 29-year veteran MLB umpire Dale Scott has become the first active official in any of the major US sports to come out as gay.
posted by The Gooch (33 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I can only imagine what Dave Pallone is thinking right now.
posted by Melismata at 9:54 AM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


Two balls, no strikes.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:54 AM on December 3, 2014 [5 favorites]


I'm picturing the opening credits of a sitcom based on his life. He calls someone out at home, they say "yes, but you're out...AT WORK!!!" and then every 22 minute episode is filled with heartwarming but hilarious tales of the umpires having life-affirming adventures between games.

(seriously though this is awesome, go Dale!)
posted by a fiendish thingy at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2014 [8 favorites]


Cute couple!
posted by Celsius1414 at 10:12 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not looking forward to hearing people talk shit about this at work (I work at a bar next to Camden Yards) but, on the other hand, I enjoy yelling at people.
posted by josher71 at 10:16 AM on December 3, 2014 [7 favorites]


It's interesting that the actual article (web link with available .pdf download to see the original print version) doesn't mention Scott's sexual orientation at all. The "reveal" is in a caption for a photo that accompanies the article.

I do find it a bit annoying that they used the quaint euphemism "longtime companion" to describe someone's husband, however. It's one of those accurate descriptions that is used to gently couch a truth that could be more easily described more directly. (I find "confirmed bachelor" equally irritating.)
posted by hippybear at 10:19 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


I can only imagine what Dave Pallone is thinking right now.

No need to imagine, someone asked him.
“What most people don’t realize is Dale Scott today probably will save the life of one person,” Pallone said. “And he will never know who that person is. … It’s wonderful.”
There's a lot more, nice article.
posted by Nelson at 10:23 AM on December 3, 2014 [11 favorites]


I sort of like that the Referee Magazine article didn't make a big deal out of it. The choice of "longtime companion" is wrong though, he and Rausch are married. "Husband" is the word. I prefer to assume it was some thoughtlessness on the editor's part, not a deliberate slight. (Even the OutSports article identifies Rausch as "his partner".)
posted by Nelson at 10:27 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


We should be past this, but we're not. I respect those who have been closeted by fear and choose to announce themselves, in spite of being in high-profile positions with a lot to lose. It is only through this process that all people can take ownership of who they are without fear of retribution or shunning.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:28 AM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


Two balls, no strikes.

But a hell of a swing.
posted by Mental Wimp at 10:29 AM on December 3, 2014


(The only thing that could explain "longtime companion" is if, indeed, they have been together for many years -- like "high school sweethearts" or something. But it was probably just sort of a wimp-out .)
posted by wenestvedt at 10:33 AM on December 3, 2014


Two balls, no strikes.

Actually, he's seen two strikes, and now he's out.

PS Good for him! I think the low key way he went about it was probably just about ideal for emphasizing this should really not be a Big Deal.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:34 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Unless it's been edited, the OutSports article right away refers to Rausch as his husband. Where "partner" is used in the article, it's either a part of a quote or works in context ("his partner of 28 years" - whereas they've only been married a year it seems).

I'm super curious what "partner" is replacing in this quote though:
"His [partner] frequently visits the stadium and travels with them."
posted by obfuscation at 10:44 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


It'll be interesting to see how the baseball commentariat responds. Rob Neyer reacts just about the way I did:
I've been critical of Major League Baseball for essentially being last on this, or nearly last. Which seems to me an embarrassing position for an organization that spends half its time wrapping itself in the flag and the other half in Jackie Robinson's retired jersey number. It's not that MLB hasn't taken some positive steps; it's that it took them so long. And no, the Players Association hasn't really done anything positive at all, with too many veteran players -- they're the ones who mostly run the union -- still stuck with their old prejudices and (I'm sorry to say) hatred.
There hasn't been much to talk about in the way this story is covered in general, which is perhaps for the best. But I did enjoy the mild wit it took to run the news under a picture of Ozzie Guillen getting run from a game by Scott (since Guillen, of course, has been prominently punished for using homophobic slurs and continues to defend using them).
posted by RogerB at 10:44 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Awesome!! But his strike zone still sucks.
posted by tittergrrl at 10:49 AM on December 3, 2014 [2 favorites]


Still waiting for an ump to come out as legally blind.
posted by exogenous at 11:25 AM on December 3, 2014 [19 favorites]


his strike zone still sucks

Out of curiosity, what makes you say that? He's not someone whose name would occur to me if I were asked to name a notably bad balls-and-strikes ump (say, Angel Hernandez or Joe West or whoever), and aside from Matt Kemp's tantrum this postseason (which was more or less a reaction to one specific blown call), I can't really find too many complaints about him on a quick search.
posted by RogerB at 11:28 AM on December 3, 2014


Out of curiosity, what makes you say that?

He's an umpire and as we all know, every umpire's strike zone sucks! You know, when your team is batting.
posted by tittergrrl at 2:13 PM on December 3, 2014


A very nice story, thanks for posting it.

> He's an umpire and as we all know, every umpire's strike zone sucks! You know, when your team is batting.

So it wasn't about him specifically? Kind of a shitty thing to say, then, even if it was just a joke.
posted by languagehat at 2:14 PM on December 3, 2014


"My thought process was," Scott told Outsports in his first interview on the subject, "is that there's a story about my career and how I got started in umpiring and they're talking to people I have known since junior high and it didn't seem right to have a whole story and pictures without a picture of Mike and I, someone who's been with me through this entire process. We met the October after my first year in the big leagues.

"Obviously, when I sent that picture to Jeff, I knew exactly what it meant. In a small way, this was opening that door in a publication that wasn't going to be circulated nationwide. It could be picked up, but it's not Time magazine. I made that decision to go ahead and do it because I felt it was the right thing to do.

"I realized that it could open a Pandora's Box, but this is not a surprise to Major League Baseball, the people I work for. It's not a surprise to the umpire staff. Until Mike and I got married last November, he was my same-sex domestic partner and had his own MLB I.D. and was on my insurance policy."

He came out in the October issue, and married his partner in November. So he wasn't married when the article was written and the interview happened. It's possible that it was his choice to use the "longtime companion" phrasing.
posted by disclaimer at 2:15 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


So it wasn't about him specifically? Kind of a shitty thing to say, then, even if it was just a joke.

Not a shitty thing to say at all. Please.

I would bet $500 bucks that this ump himself would recognise the harmless intention of this joke. As would most people who've watched a single baseball game
posted by C.A.S. at 3:35 PM on December 3, 2014 [4 favorites]


He came out in the October issue, and married his partner in November.

Hmm, I took the OutSports quote about "last November" to mean he got married in November 2013, nearly a full year before the Referee article. Sorry to split hairs, and I don't mean to harp on the choice of noun in the article. It's just still such a hard-won novelty for a gay man to call his partner "my husband" it caught my attention.
posted by Nelson at 3:41 PM on December 3, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm super curious what "partner" is replacing in this quote though:

It's quoting an email from another umpire who is gay, so possibly an abbreviation or slang term ("bf", "hub", "boyf") rather than something derogatory?

Very cool news, great to see. Thanks for posting. :)
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:45 PM on December 3, 2014


I took the OutSports quote about "last November" to mean he got married in November 2013, nearly a full year before the Referee article.

You are entirely correct in this. Further down the article we find this:
The two met on a Monday night in October 1986 at CC Slaughters, a gay bar in Portland. They had an instant connection and have become inseparable since. "We're opposites," Scott said. "He's an artist. He's very creative, I am not. The old opposites-attract thing fits us and it's obviously works for us."

The two split time between homes in Portland and Palm Springs, and it was in the desert that they were married last November; "It was kind of a long 27-year engagement," Scott jokes. The mayor of Palm Springs officiated and the affair was so low-key they didn't tell their families until later because they didn't want a fuss made over them.

It was because of his marriage to Rausch that Scott felt compelled to submit the photo to Referee. Despite not being publicly out until now, he long ago came out to himself and has never looked back. [emphasis mine]
Basically impossible logic chain if he had gotten married after the magazine article was published.
posted by hippybear at 12:46 AM on December 4, 2014


My thoughts on this have nothing to do with the politics of sexuality, just that being a professional umpire feels like such a unique way to go through life. As well as being a bit of an "identity" of its own, a narrow corner of a narrow, self-contained subculture.

Interesting.
posted by C.A.S. at 2:44 AM on December 4, 2014


> Not a shitty thing to say at all. Please.

I would bet $500 bucks that this ump himself would recognise the harmless intention of this joke. As would most people who've watched a single baseball game


Sure, if it was clear it was a joke. If it had been presented as an umpire joke, I would have chuckled myself. But "his strike zone still sucks" is not presented as a joke, it sounds like a straight comment on this particular ump's strike zone, and it seemed an unpleasant thing to stick into a celebratory thread. No big deal, no harm done, but I felt like mentioning it.
posted by languagehat at 7:08 AM on December 4, 2014


I'm happy to be wrong, cause that adds another year to their married life.
posted by disclaimer at 7:58 AM on December 4, 2014


But "his strike zone still sucks" is not presented as a joke, it sounds like a straight comment on this particular ump's strike zone, and it seemed an unpleasant thing to stick into a celebratory thread.

That seems like an over the top reaction to what read like a casual remark to me.
posted by misha at 9:42 AM on December 4, 2014 [4 favorites]


[If we really need to dissect a comment instead of moving on, please let's do it in MeTa. Thanks.]
posted by restless_nomad (staff) at 9:57 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


If it had been presented as an umpire joke, I would have chuckled myself.

Yeah, seconded (as I guess is obvious from my mistaking it for an actual comment on Scott's job performance). Glasses/blindness jokes are of course par for the course, but without any context it was not really clear that was what that was. There's a weird dynamic here that I've sometimes noticed in in-person baseball conversations too, where it seems like the more casual root-for-the-home-team fan often just thinks 'oh yeah, the umpire, that's that guy we hate,' while the fan who actually knows who the umps are might be looking for something more specific, like for Bob Davidson you'd make a balk joke instead or whatever. Umpires have a weird job that way — the general public kind of only-half-jokingly treats them as fundamentally evil while perhaps grudgingly admitting that it's a hard job, like giving out parking tickets or something.
posted by RogerB at 10:13 AM on December 4, 2014 [1 favorite]


"it seems like the more casual root-for-the-home-team fan often just thinks 'oh yeah, the umpire, that's that guy we hate,' "

Yeah, that's the joke, but one I didn't feel like would have to be explained. The silliness in which people respond to umpires in such a way using myself (a very hard core baseball fan) as the punchline. Much like umpires are not actually blind, they actually don't really have bad strike zones as a rule, as strike zones are more used as a guide that teams should adjust to (IMO).

It's disappointing that some did not understand the joke, or rather some may have inadvertently read too much into it, but I'm dismayed that it was felt that I should be "called out" (zing!) on it. Seems bush league all the way around, though I'm sorry to have caused it.
posted by tittergrrl at 10:36 AM on December 4, 2014 [2 favorites]


The silliness in which people respond to umpires

Yeah, sorry, that was not at all meant to give you more of a hard time over the joke misunderstanding — I just think the whole thing is interesting as a marker of the weird cultural place of the job, so simultaneously central and reviled. Umpires take such a constant stream of crap from everyone already, and with so little compensation or recognition relative to everyone else on the field considering their pivotal place in the game, that it's hard to imagine wanting to add to that making yourself a target on yet another axis the way Scott has. I've only known very low-level amateur umpires and even there the mentality that leads them to do it is kind of interesting; it's like being an unrecognized public servant or something, valuing institution over self. You really have to love being around the game to sign up for that role — especially considering how terrible the pay and working conditions also are in the minors. (I keep hearing these rumblings about MLB being concerned that the umpiring "talent pipeline" is running pretty dry these days because of how incredibly bad a job it is at the lower levels.)
posted by RogerB at 11:50 AM on December 4, 2014


Beanplating at homeplate is somehow appropriate.

Still waiting for an ump to come out as legally blind.

At Dodger Stadium, the sign identifying the umps' room has a braille equivalent underneath which is, of course, the norm in most workplaces nowadays, but which reduced me to a giggling fit when I saw it.
posted by Celsius1414 at 9:16 AM on December 5, 2014 [3 favorites]


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