Kevin McClatchy, for 11 years the head of the Pirates' ownership group and team CEO (and for 13 years part of the ownership group), came out publicly in a New York Times profile that's on newsstands today. In the piece, McClatchy explains why he came out to his family when he did:
He first began to accept that he was gay in his mid-20s. But he didn't tell anyone in his immediate family until just before his purchase of the Pirates, and did so then, he said, only because someone displeased with the deal threatened to go public with a rumor of McClatchy's sexual orientation unless he backed out. He correctly gambled that the threat was a bluff, but alerted his sister in case it wasn't.
This probably isn't the only time a team sale has nearly been scuttled by blackmail. Corporate espionage tries to turn up exactly this sort of stuff, and we only know about McClatchy's experience because he decided to talk about it 16 years later. The cliche that all these deals take place in closed-off back rooms choked with cigar smoke is likely wrong—even in 1996, when McClatchy's group bought the Pirates, it was probably a pristine glass-walled office with prospective buyers video-conferencing from Hong Kong or Paris—but there's still bound to be melodrama when you make an enormous purchase that enters you into a complicated public/private partnership. We probably don't hear the half of it.
McClatchy's situation is illustrative in the context of the Times article because of the nature of the rumor, but it's also fun to imagine what someone would try to blackmail you with if you ever had enough money to buy a team. For me...probably that internet video where I have sex in a Yankee stadium bathroom.