There are two incidents described under the “Controversies” subheading on Dale Scott’s Wikipedia page. They are both, thankfully, baseball related. One is about Scott misidentifying a foul ball and then not enforcing his original call when it turned into a triple play. That’s unfortunate, but is just one play, that happened in April. The other incident is about Scott ejecting Billy Martin, after Billy Martin threw dirt at him. Consider: one of the two most significant “Controversies” regarding Dale Scott is that he ejected Billy Martin for being a tool. If the Fraternal Order of Umpires (note: not a thing) ever decides to start a club, with membership limited to those umps who had at one point ejected the late Mr. Martin for being an asshole, I imagine the name of that club would be: Literally Every Umpire, 1969-1988. My point being: there are few more ordinary things in this world than what are listed as “Controversies” for Dale Scott.
Major League umpires of this vintage can be roughly categorized into two camps: Joe West, and not-Joe-West. There are good and bad umps in that second category, but they all seem to be individuals who shy away from spotlight. Sure, there is an occasional #umpshow from those folks, but those can mostly be traced back to wounded pride and other human emotions that are dangerous in anyone given a modicum of power. But, there seems to be a certain personality type that causes people to get into a business where they stand adjacent to people committing stunning acts.
Dale Scott has been an umpire for 29 years, probably not a whole heck of a lot more. So he would have retired with his two most “notable” achievements in the game being the ones described above. This probably would have been fine with Scott, and 99% of umpires. They love baseball, and their families, have lives that are enriching in ten thousand different ways. But umpires know that any fame for them is fleeting, and probably directly connected to a job done poorly.
But, Dale Scott now has one more interesting fact on his Wikipedia page: Dale Scott is the first openly gay Major League umpire (if you don’t buy what I’ve said about the umpiring personality type, let me emphasize that Dale Scott came out via photo caption in a refereeing trade magazine). The reaction to some was in the vein of “why is this news”, “who cares”, etc. There is a sentiment worth celebrating in those reactions: open homosexuality becoming “ordinary” to more and more people. But I would argue there is much more going on than those people are seeing. The inherent corollary to declaring that Dale Scott is not news is that Dale Scott is not worth celebrating, and I think that’s entirely wrong.
I am cisgendered, I am white, I am male, and I am straight. I have personally witnessed very few instances of pure hate in my life. This is because I am cisgendered, I am white, I am male, and I am straight. No one is aiming hate at me. And I have had the privilege (and pleasure) of disengaging from people who aim it towards others. In our age of interconnection, it is becoming more and more difficult to deny that that hate exists, and can be fervent, and dangerous.
People to whom that hate is aimed at cannot ignore it, because how can you, entirely? They cannot always disengage from it, because sometimes that hate comes in forms that are institutional. And yet, I firmly believe that that hate is losing. It’s not going to go away anytime soon, but it is absolutely losing. And the way it loses is by people not being afraid of it. It is the absolute right of everyone to decide for themselves who they want their sexuality shared with, and there is no shame in folks choosing to keep it to themselves for whatever reason. But to decide that you’re ready, and to understand you’re a public figure, and knowing that that hate is real in ways a straight, white, cis-male like me could never imagine, and coming out anyway is goddamned brave. And that is, and always will be, absolutely worth celebrating.Next post: EW Rewind: Episodes 3 and 4
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