- Doug Padilla, ESPN Staff Writer
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GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Chicago White Sox manager Robin Ventura said Sunday he would be more than willing to welcome an openly gay athlete into the clubhouse.
The issue has been at the forefront ever since All-America defensive end Michael Sam, from the University of Missouri, told multiple media outlets this month that he is gay.
Ventura said he expects a baseball player will follow Sam’s lead at some point in the near future.
“Hopefully he’s a really good player; that’s the first thing we would look at,” Ventura said, stating the obvious that talent is the primary factor for landing a big league job.
“It’s grown to that point where it’s going to happen. I’m sure I played with one. I’m not naïve enough to think it didn’t happen. But to have it openly in the locker room, I don’t see it as big an issue as it has been in the past.”
Glenn Burke and Billy Bean (not to be confused with Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane) are the only two former major leaguers who revealed that they were gay publicly after their playing days. Burke said in his autobiography, though, that Dodgers management knew that he was gay when he played for the organization.
“I think it would be like anything, it would take the first person to come out and say it but then you adjust,” Ventura said. “I don’t think it would be a big change as far as the way guys are and the way the game is right now. Again, there’s been one in the locker room. It has already happened, it just hasn’t openly happened.”