It took 144 years but professional baseball’s first openly gay player got a start Thursday night — and was so dominant that his milestone nearly got overshadowed by his performance on the field.
Sean Conroy, 23, a pitcher for the independent Sonoma Stompers, embraced the organization’s declaration of “Gay Pride Night” and proceeded to pitch a complete game shutout. He gave up three hits, one walk and struck out 11 batters, helping the Stompers to a 7-0 win against the Vallejo Admirals.
But history was to be made regardless of how he pitched.
Conroy came out to his family and friends at the age of 16, according to the Stompers’ website. “It's not that I wanted it to go public, but I didn't care if it was open information. It's who I am," Conroy told the Associated Press.
The rookie pitcher from Clifton Park, New York was a second-team All-American for Division III Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The game was the sixth in which Conroy had pitched for the Stompers this season. Coming in, he had a 1-0 record and four saves as a reliever. He had not publicly disclosed his sexual orientation until prior to Thursday’s start.
Clint Davis is a writer for the E.W. Scripps National Desk. Follow him on Twitter @MrClintDavis.