Life Imitates Take Me Out as Rockies Ballplayer Speaks Out Against Gays in Major League

News   Life Imitates Take Me Out as Rockies Ballplayer Speaks Out Against Gays in Major League Sounding eerily like Shane Mungitt, the homophobic hillbilly pitcher played by Frederick Weller in Richard Greenberg's Broadway play Take Me Out, Colorado Rockies hurler Todd Jones recently spoke out against the idea of an openly gay player finding welcome in Major League Baseball.

"I wouldn't want a gay guy being around me," Jones told Denver Post theatre critic John Moore April 27. "It's got nothing to do with me being scared. That's the problem: All these people say he's got all these rights. Yeah, he's got rights or whatever, but he shouldn't walk around proud. It's like he's rubbing it in our face. 'See me, hear me roar.'"

Jones, who hails from Marietta, Georgia, said a homosexual player's presence in the locker room would result in a hostile environment, and suggested that pitchers on opposing teams would purposefully aim the ball at his head.

Take Me Out, which transferred from Off-Broadway to Broadway in February, is about the political and social firestorm which unfolds when Darren Lemming, the star baseball player of the "Empires" club, comes out at a press conference. Soon after, Mungitt, an uneducated John Rocker-esque reliever, complains to the media about having to shower with a gay man.

Jones' comments appeared in a Sunday feature which examined what might happen if Greenberg's drama play out in real life. Jones also said that any player who revealed he was gay "better be a really, really good player. Because if [the team] thinks for one minute he's disrupting the clubhouse—if he doesn't hit 50 homers or win 20—they're not going to put up with that." In Take Me Out, Darren Lemming is a handsome, confident, seemingly invincible Derek Jeter-like athlete of phenomenal achievement. Nonetheless, his announcement affects his career and life in ways he hubristically never imagined it would.

Greenberg told Playbill On-Line that he had not been aware of Jones' remarks when he was interviewed for the Denver Post article. "I found them somewhat hard to follow," he said. "Chiefly, I was unsurprised by Todd Jones' semi-coherent expressions of homophobia. Nor was I surprised [the also interviewed Arizona Diamondback] Mark Grace's opposite view. Baseball has a broad range of characters." Asked whether, in light of the publicity surrounding Take Me Out, he wondered that Jones still saw fit to speak his mind, Greenberg said, "In New York City, we're parochial in our sophistication. We expect people here who harbor those feelings to know they're not supposed to talk about them. In other places and other peer groups, though, what he said isn't incendiary, but is accepted."

Though a baseball fan, Greenberg admitted he was not familiar with Jones' career. "I don't pay much attention to the National League," he said.

This is not the first time Take Me Out's plot has run parallel with current events. Last summer, before the show opened in New York, New York Mets hitter Mike Piazza, responding to rumors, called a press conference to say he was not gay. Piazza, however, acted without knowledge of Greenberg's play, which had not yet had its world premiere at London's Donmar Warehouse.