Dale Scott is making his way through the umpire’s tunnel in Oriole Park at Camden Yards. In a short time, he will throw out the first pitch at the Baltimore Orioles first LGBT Pride Night.
“Hey, I need five minutes,” he says as he darts into the umpire’s prep room in the stadium. In the room, Scott hugs and reunites with his former co-workers, the four MLB umpires who will be working the game that night.
After his appearance on the mound, Scott heads over to the dugout where he has a laugh-filled conversation with Orioles manager Buck Showalter and former MLB player Billy Bean.
The respect and admiration for Scott in the stadium that night reflects how far Major League Baseball has progressed in regard to the LGBT community. As one of 76 MLB umpires, Scott was the only one who was openly gay. He came out in 2014.
In his 3,897th game on April 14, 2017 in Toronto, Scott took a foul ball to the chin area of his mask and suffered a concussion and whiplash. It was his second concussion in eight months and his fourth in five years.
“When I mentioned my neck, they put me in a brace and carried me out on a stretcher,” says Scott. “You know us gays, we like to make an exit.”
Staring at the ceiling in the emergency room with the team doctor at his side, Scott pondered the long-term effects of concussions and began to rethink his original plan to work for two more years. He was put on medical leave through 2017 and after 32 seasons as an MLB umpire, he retired on Jan. 1 of this year.
Scott has been with his partner Michael Rausch for more than 30 years and they married in 2013. Retirement has resulted in a lifestyle change for both of them.
“It’s nice not to be in an airport, hotel or restaurant on a daily basis though we have traveled to Italy and Germany since my retirement,” says Scott. “Mostly I have been doing a lot of nothing.”
Not entirely true as he has already had a busy summer advocating for the LGBT community. In addition to his appearance at Orioles Pride Night, he also threw out the first pitch at the Los Angeles Dodgers Pride Night.
Last month, he rode on MLB’s first float in the New York City Pride Parade along with Billy Bean and deputy baseball commissioner Dan Halem. They were joined on foot by roughly 200 MLB employees. This month he will speak at the National Association of Sports Officials summit in New Orleans.
“For years I had to compartmentalize who I was and what I was. I realized I was in a spotlight and I had to follow their path. I had the built-in excuse of constant travel to explain why I wasn’t dating,” says Scott. “It’s easier to separate when you don’t live in the same town where you work. I knew I was out on an island, but it was easy to navigate.”
He actually was dating and co-habitating with Rausch whom he met a year after his first season in 1986 with MLB. Up until they were married in 2013 by the mayor of Palm Springs, Rausch had his own MLB I.D. card and was on Scott’s insurance as his same-sex domestic partner.
“The player reactions were all positive to my coming out. They just wanted me to get calls, pitches and plays correct,” Scott says. “An Oakland pitching coach approached me and told me it took a lot of courage and guts to come out in this form.”
Scott refers to the possibility of an MLB player coming out as the last bastion. He feels that for the younger generation it just isn’t a big deal.
“It’s going to happen eventually. There will be a big league guy on the roster who comes out and it will be news,” Scott says. “The reaction from the players will be, “can he hit, can he field?’”
Scott’s long list of favorite memories includes working in iconic ballparks, his first playoffs series, the 1998 World Series, his three MLB All-Star games and working his way up to crew chief for MLB.
After a lifetime of officiating in sports starting at age 15, Scott says it is really strange to be in the stands. He isn’t watching much baseball but keeps an eye on highlight reels because he is receiving calls about plays from baseball analysts.
One of his guilty pleasures is watching the University of Oregon Ducks sports teams. As he has always been, he is drawn to watching the mechanics and coverages of the umpires and officials who he refers to as the third team.
“That will never leave me,” says Scott. “I will always be tied to umpires and I will always be on the third team.”