New Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter has caused quite a stir since signing with the club in November. For the second time this month, he’s backtracking after a public comment of his was received awry. This time around, he was quoted as saying that he would find having a homosexual teammate “difficult and uncomfortable.”
The words were printed in a Saturday article by Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times on gay athletes feeling unwelcome in professional sports. Here’s Hunter’s full quote as it ran in Baxter’s piece: “For me, as a Christian … I will be uncomfortable because in all my teachings and all my learning, biblically, it’s not right,” he says. “It will be difficult and uncomfortable.”
Today, Hunter made a statement claiming he was misrepresented by the story. “I’m very disappointed in Kevin Baxter’s article in which my quotes and feelings have been misrepresented,” he told his followers via TwitLonger. “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. 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.”
Again, this is not the first time Hunter has been in trouble for his candor. Weeks ago, he made a cutting remark on Twitter after his former club, the Los Angeles Angels, signed Josh Hamilton to a five-year contract worth $125 million–money the Angels and owner Arte Moreno apparently told Hunter they didn’t have. “I was told money was tight but I guess the Arte had money hidden under a Mattress,” Hunter wrote. “Business is business but don’t lie.”
Hunter also took flack in March of 2010 when he chose to emphasize the distinction between African American players and Latin American ones by calling the latter “impostors” in an article by USA Today. After that incident, he told the LA Times, “If it’s not about baseball, I’m not going to talk about it.”
The issue of gay athletes in professional sports is a convoluted one, and one that certainly warrants discussion. For now though, it should be said that Hunter is a veteran who has been long considered a clubhouse leader, and this comment is unlikely to rob him of the respect from the league he’s earned over time. Just as a gay athlete, Hunter will continue to be a valuable asset to his team on the field.