Professional baseball player Bryan Ruby publicly came out as gay on Thursday, becoming the first active pro player in the sport's history to do so. Ruby is an infielder with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in the Mavericks Independent Baseball League.

Ruby's announcement comes shortly after other active professional athletes Carl Nassib (NFL) and Luke Prokop (NHL) came out publicly as gay earlier this year.

In an interview with USA Today, Ruby explained why he came out now and what he hopes his announcement will lead to. 

"I kept thinking about the little 14-year-old me, who was scared because I'm a baseball player who loved country music," said Ruby, who compared hiding his sexuality as an athlete to running with a weighted vest. "Those are worlds where people like me are told they can't belong. I'm not a hot-shot prospect. But today, you can't find a single active baseball player who is out publicly. I want to help create a world where future generations of baseball players don't have to sacrifice authenticity or who they really are to play the game they love."

Ruby, 25, reportedly came out as gay to his family and close friends four years ago. The Vassar College product told his teammates this summer. 

Baseball isn't the only space in which Ruby is breaking barriers. Ruby also works as a country music songwriter in Nashville, and -- according to USA Today -- two of his songs hit the charts. 

"As a country music songwriter, at first I thought being gay was a huge weakness," Ruby said. "There's this genre about drinking beer and hooking up with girls in the back of the truck. Then I realized that I can bring something different to the table. Love songs don't need to be gay or straight. And I've been able to write my best songs by being authentic."

Ruby has traversed the world since leaving Vassar as an All-Liberty League first-team selection in 2019, playing in six countries -- Austria, Chile, Germany, Guatemala, Peru and Switzerland -- before joining the Volcanoes in May.

Ruby called Nassib and Prokop "heroes."

"Each time somebody comes out in industries where queer people have not been historically represented in the mainstream, it helps to crumble the myth that you can't be yourself," Ruby told USA Today. "But we're in the 2020s. It's about damn time for this."

Ruby is taking pride in crumbling that myth. 

"If I can help just one person from this, then that's greater than any single hit or home run or win that I ever get on the field," he said.