TORONTO: Yunel Escobar Returns To Play By Accepting First Pitch From Gay Athlete

Last night Toronto Blue Jays shortstop Yunel Escobar “drew some boos” when his name was announced before the team’s first home game since he was suspended for writing “You’re a faggot” in his eye-black.  In a show of contrition, Escobar then took the field to receive the ceremonial first pitch from an openly gay soccer player.

Escobar caught the ceremonial first pitch from David Testo, a former MLS soccer player who is openly gay. Testo is now a board member for You Can Play, an advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender athletes. Before the game, Escobar sat down with Jose Estevez, an openly gay distance runner from Boston College, and Patrick Burke, the founder of You Can Play. Escobar’s lost salary during his three-game ban — about $82,000 — was to be directed to You Can Play and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Burke said the 45-minute meeting was helpful for all parties. “I think it put a face on the issue for Yunel,” Burke said. “I think it humanized the issue of gay athletes for Yunel and I think Jose did a great job today.” “After meeting with him, I like Yunel,” Burke said. “I think he did a stupid thing but I think he has learned from it.”

The Blue Jays’ manager says Escobar may continue to hear some boos: “He understands whatever comes his way is part of the process. He made a terrible mistake and is going to have to be accountable.”