Skip to content

Pride Project: LGBTQ Pride and Organized Baseball: History in the making?

Those of you who’ve followed my career through my various gigs at writing and editing in the baseball sphere, from the early days of the New York Yankees’ attempt at a website, stints at Gotham Baseball and Baseball Prospectus, to my current position as Publications Director for SABR, may have heard me say this before:

Every day in baseball something historic can happen. Sometimes it’s noticed at the time, like when the highly anticipated breaking of a record occurs. Other times it isn’t until some sabermetrician or historian goes back and looks at the facts and concludes that something happened. At the time that things are going on, the participants tend to be too wrapped up in doing the thing to also be leaving a written record of what they did. If the newspapers (or later, other media) didn’t create a record, players, teams, and even whole leagues can disappear without a trace.

I’ve been bookmarking and screencapping and noting articles, tweets, and other online mentions for a while now relating to how MLB teams celebrate Pride Month. I started making notes in 2016, when I went to Petco Park in San Diego and received a Pride rally towel as a freebie.

I’ve been intending to put all my links and things together in a post, but other deadlines keep getting in the way, and the next thing I knew my list was getting very long. Too long for one post. But here we are in June 2019 and I’m just going to jump in and start documenting. I figure this is going to end up a series of posts as I research the topic of baseball and LGBTQ Pride and related queer community events, partnerships, and the like. Among the questions I would like to eventually answer:

    1. Which was the first Major League Baseball team to celebrate Pride? Who, when, how? History loves firsts.
    2. Related questions: which was the first team in the minor leagues and/or independent leagues to do so? I expect that will be harder to pin down/prove.
    3. At what point will all 30 MLB teams be celebrating Pride and how? (It looks as if the Yankees, the last holdout, are due to break that streak in the 2019 season?)
    4. What was the first date on which each MLB team held their first Pride-related event?
    5. What effect has supporting LGBTQ Pride had on the teams that do so? (Measurable and unmeasurable?)
    6. What effect has their teams supporting LGBTQ Pride had on the fans of those teams?
    7. Related question that outside the scope of this research but I’m going to ask it anyway: Who will be the major leagues’ first openly gay player? (Who will inevitably be labeled “the gay Jackie Robinson” — I’d say a more apt comparison would be “baseball’s Adam Lambert” but I know how the sports media works and no one will listen to me on this…)

What I am not intending to do, at least initially, is analyze whether teams’ motives are capitalist or social-justice oriented (or both). Right now this is about establishing facts like dates, names, and places.

If you have a pointer to a source, article, photograph, blog entry, social media post, etc… that you think is relevant, please leave it in a comment or email it to ctan.writer AT gmail DOT com with as much relevant info as you can, and a link if possible. Scans, photos, and scrapbook entries welcome, too.

Examples: 

Article: “LGBT Orioles Night Out to raise money for the GLCCB,” by Darcy Costello, Baltimore Sun, June 23, 2015. Link: http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/gay-in-maryland/gay-matters/bal-lgbt-orioles-night-out-20150618-story.html

Quote from the article: “Baseball fans are invited to the second annual LGBT Orioles Night Out, an evening at Oriole Park at Camden Yards for a cause, on June 30 at 7 p.m. The event serves as a fundraiser for the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center of Baltimore and Central Maryland, with $5 of the $23 ticket costs going toward the GLCCB.”

Upon reading the article, it’s interesting to me to note that “LGBT Orioles Night Out” started out as an informal thing in which a gay fan organized a group outing which kept growing until they “made it official.” The idea to make it a fundraiser was his and the article seems a bit vague as to just how enthusiastic the Orioles actually are. It’s a starting place, though, for researching the team’s efforts and history with the LGBTQ community in Baltimore. At the very least it places June 2014 as a possible date for the Orioles’ earliest such event. I’ll be looking to see if there are any earlier.

Contrast that with the San Diego Padres, whose towel started me on this research quest. The Padres  partner with San Diego Pride to present an annual Out at the Park night, complete with Pride hats, pride rally towels, a pre-game party, and the National Anthem sung by the city’s gay men’s choir. From a quick Googling, I can see that the event hasn’t been without controversy, including one year the PA system playing a female singer’s rendition of the National Anthem while the gay men’s chorus stood helpless in center field, and an outcry over scheduling the event on the first night of Passover. I’m currently going down a Google rabbit hole trying to pinpoint the date of the first one, though.

Since this is a blog and not a magazine or research journal, I’ll be posting compilations of the information I gather from time to time, but not on a specific schedule, and I’m not sure yet if a consistent format will emerge. Eventually there will be a post/page for each MLB team which can be updated as time goes by.

Let it begin.

(Did you enjoy reading this blog entry? Please consider buying me a hot dog.)

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.