(Reuters) - A first baseman for the minor league Helena Brewers, a rookie affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, has come out publicly as gay, a first for an active player connected with Major League Baseball, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper.
David Denson, 20, came out publicly to the newspaper with the help of former major leaguer Billy Bean, who last year was named MLB’s first “Ambassador for Inclusion,” the Sentinel reported on Sunday.
Only two major league players have ever come out publicly as gay - Bean and Glenn Burke - and both had already left the game, the paper reported.
Major League Baseball said in a statement on Sunday that it “fully supports” Denson’s decision to share his story.
“We are also very proud of the Brewers organization for the off field support and development they have provided for one of their players,” the league added. “It is a tremendous example of baseball’s desire to give every player the opportunity to play at their very best.”
The Brewers’ president of baseball operations and general manager, Doug Melvin, called Denson ”a very courageous young man.
“Our goal for David is to help develop him into a Major League player, just as it is for any player in our system, and we will continue to support him in every way as he chases his dream,” Melvin said in a statement issued on Sunday.
Denson is not considered an elite prospect for the Brewers, but he is known as a power hitter who is batting .253 for the Helena, Montana, team, the paper said.
Other professional athletes who have disclosed their homosexuality in recent years include football player Michael Sam, who was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in 2014 but did not make the roster.
Sam announced on Friday that he was stepping away from football and leaving the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes for mental health reasons.
National Basketball Association player Jason Collins became the first active player in a major professional team sport to come out publicly as gay in 2013. He has since retired.
Reporting by Mary Wisniewski and Ben Klayman; Editing by Dan Grebler