This is a fascinating, discomfiting story: a self-avowed heterosexual Japanese baseball player appeared in a gay porn film while in college because he says he needed the money. He was blackballed by Japanese professional baseball. He was signed by the Indians, did well in the minors this year, and may make the big team next year.
Although there are undoubtedly gay players, they are deep in the closet with the door closed tight, as professional sports are somewhere to the right of “don’t ask don’t tell” when it comes to sexual preference, and not without cause given the forced proximity and intimacy of the locker room (I know, this is the military’s rationale as well).
- Tadano stood and told teammates on two of the Indians’ minor-league teams that as a college student in Japan, he appeared in a pornographic movie in which he engaged in a homosexual act. He told his teammates at Class A Kinston and Class AA Akron that he made a mistake and asked for the chance to prove himself as a teammate.
….Indians pitcher Jack Cressend was recovering from shoulder surgery at Akron in May when Tadano met with the team. John Farrell, Indians director of player development, stood on one side of Tadano. Hasegawa, a consultant in Nero’s CSMG Sports Ltd., stood on the other side.
After Tadano spoke – he took less than five minutes – Farrell asked if anyone wanted to speak.
Cressend rose. “I told everyone that I felt we needed to support this guy. I thought we should give him a chance to be our teammate and friend.
“You could tell he was sincere and embarrassed. I’ve sat in the bullpen with him and he’s a good guy. We’ve all messed up in some shape or form in our life.”
….Other members of Tadano’s college baseball team were reportedly in the video. Tadano, however, talked only about his participation.
“Tadano legitimately believed his face would be hazed out,” said Nero. “I don’t think he knew what he was getting into.”
Nero decided to represent Tadano after he did a background check. “As a father, I felt that if this had happened to my son, I’d want someone to give him another chance,” Nero said. [Cleveland.com]
So far so good. Besides the psychological questions rattling around – you needed the money how badly? – as writer Paul Hoynes points out, the majors are different, and major league players and fans are much more outspoken, not to mention cruel (ask Jackie Robinson) than their minor league counterparts, who generally don’t want to cause trouble (the players, that is).
This isn’t the same as The First Openly Gay Player – note the emphasis on the words “mistake” and “heterosexual” in the story – but it is a step in that direction. It will be very interesting to see how big a deal it becomes.