The New York Yankees have been Major League Baseball’s most storied franchise for almost a century, leading baseball in a variety of firsts. But one area where they trail almost every other team is in holding a night for the LGBT community.
The Yankees are one of four teams — along with the Los Angeles Angels, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers — to not have a game set aside to honor the LGBT community. The other 26 teams have had such an event at some point since so-called “gay days” started with the Chicago Cubs in 2001.
The Yankees’ reason, the team told the New York Times, has to do with them not having any kind of themed night for anybody.
The Yankees have in recent years largely shied away from promotions with an ethnic or cultural flavor, although there are regular instances when they honor a cause with a brief pregame ceremony, such as last year’s Puerto Rican Day Parade.
This does not mean the team is anti-LGBT, citing, according to a spokesman: “The work by General Manager Brian Cashman and the assistant general manager Jean Afterman with organizations that assist lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youths; a pregame ceremony last year to acknowledge those killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla.; and an invitation to Billy Bean, the gay Major League Baseball executive who promotes inclusion, to speak with Yankees players on the major and minor league levels.”
Bean tells the Times that he has worked with the Yankees in other ways to foster inclusion and that a pride night has never been brought up by the team. “If the Yankees approached me, I’d be front and center in getting it done or putting it out there,” Bean said. “This is a process. I don’t want teams to feel like they’re pressured. It has to be organic.”
Yet Bean appreciates the power of a pride night.
Too many L.G.B.T. baseball fans, he said, have memories of being ostracized in Little League or hearing disparaging comments while sitting in the stands at a major league game.
When teams host pride events, Bean said: “It’s part of us getting better and understanding the value of being inclusive. There’s a massive significance to that message.”
The Yankees’ refusal is still bothersome because they are clearly a minority in this area and them holding a special night for LGBT fans would be a powerful symbol coming from the sport’s premier franchise. The absence of such an event makes the Yankees look like an outlier, behind the curve instead of leading. It’s time the team got with the times.