On Monday morning, NBA player Jason Collins became the first active professional athlete for a major North American team sport to come out as gay. That prompted a few questions with manager Don Mattingly before the Dodgers’ game against the Colorado Rockies.
“I’ve just seen a tick of it,” Mattingly said. “What I’ve seen, it seems like a Jackie Robinson type thing for one, crossing some barriers. It’ll be interesting to follow.”
Asked about how an openly gay player would be received on his team, Mattingly said, “I don’t know. I think it would be OK. The first time it happens, you’re in uncharted waters. A lot like Jackie, he would be making it easier for anyone else to step forward.”
But might that actually happen in Major League Baseball soon? “I don’t know,” Mattingly said. “I don’t know why not.”
The manager went on to describe how black players during Robinson’s era still had to sleep and eat in segregated facilities from their teammates, among other hardships. If Collins has a hard time gaining acceptance inside and outside the clubhouse, maybe other athletes will be discouraged from coming out.
“It’s not like the floodgates opened” for black players in Robinson’s time, Mattingly said, “but I think (Collins’ coming out) is a step in the right direction that’s going to create change.”