Newly signed Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter is at the center of controversy after saying he would be “uncomfortable” having a gay teammate. Hunter later claimed the comment was taken out of context and said he had been misquoted.
Hunter, who formerly played for the Angels, was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times for a story that mentioned no gay player has come out while playing professional baseball, football, basketball or hockey.
Hunter, who was described by Times reporter Kevin Baxter as being “among baseball’s most thoughtful and intelligent players,” said he would have a problem with having a gay teammate because of his religion.
"For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it's not right," Hunter told the Times. "It will be difficult and uncomfortable."
Hunter responded to the story on Monday afternoon, saying he had been misquoted and his thoughts were taken out of context.
“Do [sic] believe everything u read. Misleading and way out of context. Truth. ...,” the Tigers outfielder wrote on his Twitter account.
“I'm very disappointed in Kevin Baxter's article in which my quotes and feelings have been misrepresented. He took two completely separate quotes and made them into one quote that does not express how I feel as a Christian or a human being,” Hunter elaborated. “I have love and respect for all human beings regardless of race, color or sexual orientation. I am not perfect and try hard to live the best life I can and treat all people with respect. If you know me you know that I am not anti anything and to be portrayed as anti-gay in this article is hurtful and just not true.”
Hunter’s gay comment was criticized by Chris Kluwe, a National Footbal League punter for the playoff-bound Minnesota Vikings.
Kluwe, who is straight, gained national attention for his scathing letter to a Maryland politician who demanded Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti prohibit his players from talking about gay rights. Ravens linebacker Brendan Ayanbadejo came out in support of a same-sex marriage bill in Maryland, which set off Maryland State Delegate Emmett C. Burns’ (D-Baltimore) letter to Bisciotti.
“I find it inconceivable that you are an elected official of the United States government,” Kluwe wrote in the open letter posted in September on the Huffington Post. “Your vitriolic hatred and bigotry make me ashamed and disgusted to think that you are in any way responsible for shaping policy at any level.”
Kluwe ended the missive by writing, “I would like to say that I hope this letter in some small way causes you to reflect upon the magnitude of the colossal foot-in-mouth clusterf--- you so brazenly unleashed on a man whose only crime was speaking out for something he believed in. Best of luck in the next election; I'm fairly certain you might need it.”
Kluwe used his Twitter account to voice his disapproval of Hunter’s comments on gays in sports.
“Saw the Torii Hunter comments. It's sad when people take something founded on tolerance and turn it into bigotry. Says a lot about them,” the Vikings punter wrote.
“Torii would also do well to remember that religion was used to deny black people their rights not too long ago. Have a little empathy,” Kluwe added. Hunter is black. Kluwe is white.