Washington Nationals shortstop Trea Turner issued an apology on July 29, after anti-gay slurs he posted in several tweets in 2011 and 2012 when he was 18 years old and playing college baseball at North Carolina State University resurfaced.
According to media reports, including a report in the LGBT blog Out Sports, Turner used the word “faggot” in four tweets sent in response to messages from acquaintances in which it was unclear whether they were intended as insults or were used in jest.
Regardless of the intent and the fact they were made when Turner, now 25, was a teenager, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo issued a statement calling the tweets “inexcusable” but noting that Turner has taken full responsibility for his actions.
“There are no excuses for my insensitive and offensive language on Twitter,” he said in a separate statement released by the Nationals. “I am sincerely sorry for those tweets and apologize wholeheartedly. I believe people who know me understand those regrettable actions do not reflect my values or who I am,” he said.
“But I understand the hurtful nature of such language and am sorry to have brought any negative light to the Nationals organization, myself or the game I love,” he said.
News of Turner’s six- and seven-year-old tweets came as a surprise to people familiar with his participation and support of Major League Baseball’s “Shred Hate” anti-bullying program. The Washington Blade reported in its sports issue last month that Turner has worked with gay former MLB player Billy Bean, who coordinates the Shred Hate program, in speaking with school kids about how bullying is harmful and should be stopped.
Earlier this year, Turner appeared in a video public service announcement speaking out against bullying, which has been shown on the large video screen at Nationals Stadium during games.
In a development that started MLB officials, Turner became the third MLB player in the past month discovered to have posted anti-gay tweets in years prior to their joining MLB teams. The other two are Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb and Milwaukee Brewers relief pitcher Josh Hader. In one of his offending tweets Newcomb used a racial slur as well as an anti-gay slur.
“The Nationals organization does not condone discrimination in any form, and his comments do not in any way reflect the values of our club,” Rizzo said of Turner’s tweets. “Trea has been a good teammate and model citizen in our clubhouse, and these comments are not indicative of how he as conducted himself while part of our team.”