This conversation in Brockton inspired pro baseball player to come out as gay
BROCKTON — Bryan Ruby's decision to tell the world he's gay came out of left field. The left field bleachers at Campanelli Stadium, to be exact.
The baseball player and musician remembers sitting and talking with Kristen Lucas, whom he'd just met.
"She was the one that ultimately convinced me," Ruby said about the July 2020 conversation.
Ruby was at the time an assistant coach with the Brockton Rox, a summer college league team. Since then, he's become one of the small number of pro baseball players to come out publicly as gay. Lucas was at the stadium that night to shoot a commercial for a Brockton Rox beer garden.
"I could not have predicted the power of the story and where it would take me when I was sitting at Campanelli Stadium, talking with Kristen Lucas," he said.
Ruby, 26, returned to Brockton on Tuesday. This time it was to throw out the first pitch and sing the national anthem instead of keeping the hit chart, which was one of his main duties as an assistant coach.
Ruby is going from ballpark to ballpark this month, taking a break from his efforts to make the big leagues. He's already participated in Pride celebrations at Dodger Stadium and Citi Field, and is scheduled to throw out the first pitch at Camden Yards on Wednesday. The 6-3 Pennsylvania native hopes to make a roster as a third baseman on an independent pro team once the tour is over.
Ruby announced his sexual orientation in a USA TODAY story that published on Sept. 2, 2021. At that time, he was the only active pro baseball player to be out as gay.
"I had always thought about coming out, but hadn't done it," Ruby said. "I was nervous about having a job in baseball. A couple of people I talked to in Brockton, that was the difference maker, that gave me the confidence to share this."
Ruby said he hopes going public with this aspect of himself will make it a little easier for gay baseball players.
"It's weird that I'm the guy doing this," Ruby said. "If I do my job right, there will be hundreds of players, better players (who come out). I was kind of waiting and waiting to hear that story. Nobody was speaking up. If I had heard my story when I was a little kid, it might've helped me."
Ruby said that, in his experience, most people don't care who you date. Even so, he has received hate mail. Controversy flared recently over Ruby's comments about several Tampa Bay Rays who declined to wear a uniform with a Pride patch.
Ruby helped found "Proud to Be in Baseball," a nonprofit that aims to be a "by players, for players" support group for gay baseball players at the high school, college and pro levels.
"No younger version of myself should ever feel like they're alone," Ruby said.
Off the field, Ruby writes and performs songs, mostly in the country genre. He wrote "Backwoods Bougie" for Hayden Joseph, for instance, which memorably rhymes "Yeti koozie" with "backwoods bougie," and made a bit of a splash last summer as a party anthem.
Like in baseball, country musicians' public personas overwhelmingly keep to traditional gender roles. Ruby is donating proceeds from his current single, "Left Field," to LBGTQ kids via Proud to Be in Baseball.
Lucas, the person who talked Ruby into finally coming out, went on to be a producer on a documentary about Ruby. Called "Coming Home," production has finished. Lucas said the plan is to submit a polished rough-cut of the documentary to the Sundance Film Festival in August. Lucas was born in Brockton, though she grew up in Peabody and now lives in Worcester.
Meeting Lucas in the Brockton Rox stands that July night inspired the song. "All the best things come out of left field," the chorus goes.