First top-tier baseball player to come out as gay retires from the sport at 22

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The first gay player in the highest echelons of baseball to come out and stay in the sport has retired, aged 22.

David Denson, who played for Major League Baseball-affiliated Milwaukee Brewers, came out in 2015 to wide acclaim.

He was the first player to come out while still active in an MLB-affiliated league.

At the time, the 15th-round pick by the Brewers told local newspaper the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: “Talking with my teammates, they gave me the confidence I needed, coming out to them.

“They said, ‘You’re still our teammate. You’re still our brother. We kind of had an idea, but your sexuality has nothing to do with your ability.

“You’re still a ballplayer at the end of the day. We don’t treat you any different. We’ve got your back.’

“That was a giant relief for me. I never wanted to feel like I was forcing it on them. It just happened. The outcome was amazing. It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”

But earlier this week, the first baseman announced on his Facebook page that after less than two years with the Brewers, he was leaving the sport.

“I want to thank all of you for the amazing love and support over the years. But my baseball journey has come to an end,” he wrote.

The baseball player, who grew up and went to high school in California, is moving 2,000 miles from Wisconsin, back to the west coast and Los Angeles.

First top-tier baseball player to come out as gay retires from the sport at 22

“I am now pursuing a career as a personal/athletic trainer,” he said, adding that “baseball doesn’t define me”.

“I will be taking all that I have learned and I would love to give back and teach others!” he continued. “I will be training out of a facility called Fit For Life, located in Ontario, CA.”

He made no explicit mention of his sexuality, but added: “I never said it was going to be easy. Nothing good in life comes easy!

“Making MY DECISION to move on with my life is my personal decision. I don’t want anything handed to me.”

Two former Major League players, Glenn Burke and Billy Bean, came out before Denson started playing – but only after they retired from the sport.