|First baseman / Outfielder|
Born: January 17, 1995|
La Puente, California
David Lamont Denson (born January 17, 1995) is an American former professional baseball first baseman and outfielder. He played in Minor League Baseball (MiLB) for the Milwaukee Brewers organization. In 2015, Denson became the first active player affiliated with a Major League Baseball organization to publicly come out as gay.
Denson attended Bishop Amat High School in La Puente, California, for his freshman year, and then transferred as sophomore to South Hills High School in West Covina, California. He committed to play college baseball for the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors. As a high school senior in December 2012, Denson hit a 515-foot (157 m) home run (HR) in an annual amateur home run derby, topping the 502 feet (153 m) record of Bryce Harper from 2009. The shot showcased his power potential, and he proceeded to win the contest with 19 home runs, including three that travelled over 500 feet (150 m). A YouTube video of his record homer went viral, drawing over one million viewers. Denson played high school baseball in 2013 for the first time since his freshman year, though he had been competing for the ABD Academy, a baseball academy in San Bernardino. He was a Sierra League first-team selection after leading South Hills to a league championship while batting .446 with seven HRs, 11 doubles, two triples and 27 runs batted in (RBIs).
The Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the 15th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. Wary of being ineligible for the draft for another three years if chose to play for Hawaii, Denson opted instead to play professionally, signing with Milwaukee for $100,000. He played for the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers of the Class A Midwest League for most of 2014, where he had a .243 batting average with four home runs and 29 RBIs in 68 games. He began the 2015 season with Wisconsin, and after batting .195 with one home run and eight RBIs in 24 games, he was demoted to the Helena Brewers of the Rookie-level Pioneer League. With Helena, Denson was selected to play in the Northwest–Pioneer League All-Star Game, where he was honored as the MiLB.com Top Star for the Pioneer League after hitting a pinch hit home run while going 2-for-3 along with two RBIs and two runs scored. In late August, the Brewers promoted Denson back to Wisconsin.
After playing primarily as a first baseman through the 2015 season, Denson became an outfielder for the 2016 season. He began the 2016 season with Wisconsin, and was promoted to the Brevard County Manatees of the Class A-Advanced Florida State League. During spring training in 2017, Denson announced his retirement from professional baseball.
Denson's father, Lamont, is a former athlete. His sister, Celestine, is a professional dancer.
During the 2015 season, while playing for Helena, Denson came out as gay to his teammates. In August 2015, with the help of Billy Bean, Major League Baseball's (MLB) Ambassador for Inclusion, Denson contacted the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel so that he could come out publicly. Denson became the first active player within a Major League Baseball organization to do so. He was also the second active pro baseball player to have come out.[a]
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- Maun, Tyler (March 16, 2016). "Brewers' Denson shifts focus to defense: After historic 2015 season, Milwaukee slugger moving to the outfield". MiLB.com. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
- Wild, Danny (March 21, 2017). "Brewers' Denson announces retirement: Milwaukee infielder was affiliated baseball's lone openly gay player". MiLB.com. Retrieved March 21, 2017.
- Tom Haudricourt. "Brewers minor-leaguer makes baseball history by coming out publicly as gay". jsonline.com. Retrieved August 16, 2015.
- Daniel, Victor (August 17, 2015). "David Denson, Gay Minor Leaguer, Has Power but Faces Long Odds". The New York Times. Archived from the original on August 21, 2015.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference (Minors)