I can’t wait to see this upcoming movie about Jackie Robinson and the integration of baseball. You’ll recognize Harrison Ford as Branch Rickey, a braver man than Indiana Jones, for Rickey decided–against the wishes of his fellow baseball executives–that racial segregation must end.
Who will be the Jackie Robinson for gay ballplayers? Maybe he’s already in the Major Leagues; maybe he’s in Little League. Let’s hope he has an easier time than Jackie.
My just-published article for Outsports imagines the impact of a real-life Ricky Fontana. I describe how my novel—or an actual gay ballplayer—could expose the weakness of some bad ideas just as a clever pitcher cuts down his opponent. Stupidity strikes out.
This article arrives on the cusp of trying times for baseball. In a few weeks, we will read little about our game except that the players we loved ten years ago were cheaters in a hero’s uniform. Sportswriters will circle the quicksand that each year submerges them in sanctimony: the voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pity them! Many (surely most) will have to justify excluding baseball’s greatest hitter, Barry Bonds, and arguably the best pitcher, Roger Clemens, because both used performance-enhancing drugs. The rest will have to explain to skeptical fans why they would give baseball’s ultimate honor to players who irreversibly skewed the game’s precious historical records.
Fans have been dogged for a decade by suspicions that any of their favorite players could be a fraud. The game hasn’t changed; drug testing reveals new cheaters every few weeks. Wouldn’t it be nice, we’ll say in December, to turn the page? I say there’s no better emblem for a new era than a gay player. Even if he hits .200 and quickly disappears to the minors, he would have done more for the game than Bonds or Clemens. I hope he’s on his way.
His name nobody can ignore: Ricky Fontana, New York's beloved baseball hero. In the midst of a record-breaking season, a reporter bedeviled by disappointment and doubt discovers that Ricky is gay. My novel imagines the emergence of the first gay sports superstar.