Cubs 1st Team to Have Gay Owner

Laura Ricketts is out, proud, and first lesbian to own a pro team

By Zach Christman
|  Sunday, Nov 1, 2009  |  Updated 2:30 PM CDT
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Cubs 1st Team to Have Gay Owner

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Wrigley Field before the Bud Light Bleachers

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A milestone of professional sports has been reached with the Cubs' new owners, though it's not one many in the sporting world will likely take notice of.  On the other hand, perhaps a few players will.

Among the members of the Ricketts family is Laura Ricketts, an out lesbian -- making the Cubs the first professional sports team to have a gay owner, the Windy City Times notes.

Ricketts says she came out of the closet to her family in her early 30's, shortly after she came to terms with her sexuality herself. She's quoted as saying her family was "immediately supportive."

Not only has there never been an openly gay sports team owner before, but there have been next to no gay players -- at least none who were willing to admit it before their retirement.

There has been an openly gay umpire, Dave Pallone. But that didn't work out well for him. After he came out to the National League president at the time, he was fired on rumors of an alleged sex ring. A subsequent investigation proved the allegations were groundless. Pallone claimed he was fired for being gay.

Then there was Paul Priore, a clubhouse assistant for the Yankees who said he was taunted and ultimately fired because he was HIV-positive.

And then there's Glenn Burke, an outfielder with the Dodgers and A's.  In 1993, he came out, 14 years after leaving professional baseball.  At the time, he said he believed the Dodgers traded him because they suspected his homosexuality.

Ricketts' ownership in the Cubs isn't the first time Chicago has played a part in the story of gay sports professionals.  The first pro athlete to come out of the closet ever -- the NFL's David Kopay -- was a Chicagoan, born here in 1942.

Perhaps with a lesbian now on the board of a Major League team, some athlete will be able to come out of the closet while still working in a pro sport and not lose their job.

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