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His training as an athlete helped him to compartmentalize, he said.
"We're taught as professional athletes, if you don't reach your goal or your fail, you gotta be able to leave it behind and move on and keep moving forward. I almost kind of put that whole thing of who I really was in a compartment somewhere and it stayed there.” Interestingly, Dillinger said he seldom heard gay slurs in the locker room or at the ballpark.
It was quite a change to go from fried chicken and pizza in the typical Minor League postgame spread to filet mignon with the Yankees in spring training.“I was so busy playing sports and I didn't have a whole lot of time to think about it.” He had a fairly typical teen experience, dating girls, playing sports and being one of the guys.Drafted in 1992 by the Pirates as an 18-year-old while attending a junior college in Florida, Dillinger spent the next 13 years (he did not play in 19) bouncing around baseball's Minor Leagues, good enough to make a big-league spring training roster, but not quite good enough to stick on Opening Day or be called up during the season. He played for five Major League organizations: Pittsburgh Pirates (five Minor League clubs), Texas Rangers (0; he blew out his elbow and had surgery), Toronto Blue Jays (one), New York Yankees (one), Anaheim Angels (two), plus six independent teams."I walked into the lobby and my room was fairly close to the lobby where that club was and I saw the big flier outside and it said 'Bear Night.' I was like, 'Oh my God, no way.' Plus, there were all these big burly and masculine men walking in and out of that place,” Dillinger said.“I did react, or I should say, my eyeballs reacted.