Everyone wondered who the Chicago Cubs would be sold to. Now we know. Someone with a league of her own. A milestone of professional sports has been reached with the new owners, though it's not one our homophobic sports world will play up too willingly. So let's do it for them.
Among the members of the Ricketts family who acquired the team is Laura Ricketts, an out lesbian -- making the Cubs the first professional sports team to have a gay owner, at least one that is known to the public. I would suspect Marge Schott, but I think her thing was dogs. How open is Laura? She even attended a White House GLBT luncheon in June for Gay Pride month, and has apparently been an active political contributor to Dems in Chi-town.
Ricketts says she came out of the closet to her family in her early 30's, shortly after she came to terms with her sexuality herself. She's quoted as saying her family was "immediately supportive."
Not only has there never been an openly gay sports team owner before, but there have been no openly gay players -- at least none who were willing to admit it before their retirement. A lot have come out after they finished playing, like Billy Beane and Glenn Burke. And we just blogged about a closeted gay professional athlete whose blog has purportedly described his life in the bigs.
There has been an openly gay umpire, Dave Pallone. But that didn't work out well for him. After he came out to the National League president at the time, he was fired on rumors of an alleged sex ring. A subsequent investigationb proved the allegations were groundless. Pallone claimed he was fired for being gay. Then there was Paul Priore, a clubhouse assistant for the Yankees who said he was taunted and ultimately fired because he was HIV positive.
Let's put it this way. Gayness in MLB is infrequently discussed. No manager or player wants a distraction. I have always felt that outside of the locker room jokes, most people could care less what the guy does in bed if the guy can play the game. Some day we will find out. Baseball survived the wife swapping of Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich in the midst of a New York Yankees pennant run in the 1970's. It will survive a gay player if he has a good curve or can hit in the clutch.
While Laura Ricketts' ownership in the Cubs is unique, she is not the partner expected to run the team.Tom Ricketts, chief executive officer of Incapital LLC, a Chicago investment bank will handle that chore. Should be an interesting family. From Omaha, Nebraska, one of the brothers is very conservative, opposes gay marriage and involved with Republican politics as much as Laura is with the Dems. Great Thanksgiving dinners, don't you think?
One of the first teams to ever hold a 'Gay Days' at the ballpark was the Cubs at Wrigley Field, usually in the summer during the Market Days Festival on Halstead Street. Now they really have someone to throw out the first pitch.