NEW YORK -- Kevin McClatchy, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates and now the board chairman at the McClatchy Company newspaper chain, said in an interview with The New York Times that he is gay.
The interview, which appeared online Saturday and will be in Sunday print editions, is the 49-year-old McClatchy's first public acknowledgement of his sexual orientation.
No athlete in the four major U.S. professional sports leagues - football, baseball, basketball, hockey - has come out while playing. Longtime NBA executive Rick Welts, then with the Phoenix Suns, drew attention last year for announcing he is gay.
McClatchy owned the Pirates from 1996 until 2007.
"You're not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue," he said. "And there's no dialogue right now."
Throughout his tenure with Pittsburgh, McClatchy worked to keep his sexual orientation a secret from anyone beyond a tight circle of family and close friends, The Times reported.
McClatchy told the newspaper he frequently heard homophobic language during his days in baseball. It convinced him that staying closeted was the best course of action.
"I'm sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it," he said.
But McClatchy noted that his 50th birthday is coming in January and he's spent decades avoiding talk about his personal life.
"There's no way I want to go into the rest of my existence and ever have to hide my personal life again," he said.