Baseball’s First Gay Umpire Says He’s Retiring Rather Than Risk More Concussions

"I thought, this is a sign."

Concussions are a major topic in football, but they pose a risk in baseball as well, especially for umpires: And Dale Scott, MLB’s first openly gay umpire, has announced he’s retiring rather than risk another one.

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In April, Scott caught a foul ball off Baltimore Oriole’s Mark Trumbo bat hard in his mask, resulting in injuries that cost the 58-year-old nearly the entire 2017 season. It was Scott’s second concussion in nine months and his fourth in just five years.

Saying goodbye to a career of more than 30 years wasn’t that hard, actually: “In fact, it was pretty easy,” Scott told the AP. “I wasn’t planning on this year being the last one. But I thought, this is a sign.”

In addition to potentially protecting his health, retirement means Scott will have more time with husband Michael Rausch, his partner since 1986.

“He has achieved everything in his umpiring career, and has carried himself with integrity and garnered the respect of his peers and MLB players,” says MLB inclusion officer Billy Bean. “I am filled with pride as I reflect on all of his accomplishments. He’s a pro’s pro, who’s been a wonderful example to the LGBT community and all sports fans.”

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Bean, a former outfielder for the San Diego Padres, came out himself in 1999. He says Scott came to him after his story made news. “If we had been able to have that conversation when I was still playing, I know it would have changed the course of my career. Dale’s legacy will undoubtedly continue to inspire others to pursue their dreams, and I hope we see the results around MLB soon.”

Scott, who came out publicly after the 2014 season, began his career in 1985, having umped 3,897 regular-season games, three All-Star Games, and three World Series. He was inducted into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.