The Mets really, really want fans to come to Citi Field on Aug. 4 for the anticipated Noah Syndergaard bobblehead giveaway.
The lit-up billboard outside Citi Field reminds fans of that very promotion when they pass by the stadium. The team has also promoted it via TV ads, social media posts and on Mets.com, where they are asking fans to “Come to Citi Field on Aug. 4 for Thor Bobblehead Giveaway.”
There’s only one problem with that: It’s also the Mets’ LGBT Pride night and that’s getting little promotion.
Mets Pride night hasn’t been treated with the nearly the same hype as Syndergaard’s bobblehead promotion and there are none of the Pride-themed giveaways we are seeing at dozens of other MLB ballparks this summer.
To put this into perspective, 11 Major League teams are giving away rainbow-colored hats this season; three teams have T-shirt giveaways; two are giving away wearable Pride flags; and one is giving away backpacks. The Mets are not among those teams, and when asked about this, the team did not respond to a request for comment.
The Mets are still doing the right thing by hosting another Pride night this season — their third in as many years — and it’s for a good cause: Proceeds from select tickets are donated to the LGBT Network, an association of non-profits serving the LGBT community in Long Island and Queens. In contrast, the Yankees are one of only two MLB teams to never have had a Pride event.
LGBT Network President and CEO David Kilmnick said the proceeds from Pride night usually total about $10,000 for the network, which has five LGBT community centers in Long Island and Queens. It breaks down to about $5 to $10 per ticket sold through the separate Pride promotion, he said, depending on seating location.
To be clear, the Mets aren’t ignoring their Pride event. There will be pre-game festivities outside the Jackie Robinson Rotunda, complete with rainbow flags and performances by Emily Perry, Blake G, and Broadway stars.
LGBT youth and their parents will unfurl a large rainbow flag on the field before the game and openly gay City Councilmember Daniel Dromm will throw out the first pitch. The LGBT Network is offering a commemorative Mets Pride T-shirt, but it costs money, unlike at Blue Jays Pride night, for example, where the first 20,000 fans received a free Blue Jays Pride Hat.
Kilmnick said the LGBT Network chose the date for this year’s Pride night, which clearly coincided with an unrelated, much-anticipated promotion. But it is still up to the Mets to get the word out and adapt to the new norm of featuring Pride-themed giveaways. The only ad I’ve seen for Pride night is on Facebook, where businesses are easily able to target specific demographics in ad campaigns.
Their Pride page is also relatively short on many of the details, with no mention of who is performing during pre-game festivities or that a rainbow flag will be unfurled. I only found that out by contacting the LGBT Network.
I’m a gay Mets fan and I can’t help but feel like the team’s Pride plans are taking a back seat to a different promotion on the same day. In contrast, teams like the Nationals, Cubs and Dodgers give their Pride nights center stage, with testimonies from current players and out athletes from baseball and other sports.
It’s not as if giving Pride equal treatment would be a problem. New York is a city with so much meaningful LGBT history and a vibrant gay population, not to mention multiple gay sports bars. Pride has deep roots in New York, where the Christopher Street Liberation Day parade in 1970 set the wheels in motion for future Pride celebrations.
My boyfriend and I attended Jason Collins’ first home game in 2014 after he came out during his time with the Brooklyn Nets and the crowd cheered and chanted his name when he entered the game.
There are still no openly gay players in Major League Baseball, even as the league has made positive strides in the years since they hired openly gay former Major Leaguer Billy Bean as Ambassador for Inclusion.
Until that changes in an era when the Trump administration refuses to recognize Pride month, it’s important for all teams to show their support — and not just as the smaller part of a straight player’s bobblehead night.
Matt Tracy is a gay Brooklyn-based journalist who has covered baseball events ranging from minor league games to the National Baseball Hall of Fame Induction ceremony. He can be reached at email@example.com and you can follow him on Twitter @matthewtracy. In 2013, he wrote his coming out story for Outsports.
Story editor: Jim Buzinski