Remember last summer when about 50 ultra-orthodox Jewish and Catholic protesters held a demonstration against a Pride Night held by the Phillies Class A affiliate Lakewood BlueClaws?
Minor League Baseball certainly did. And during this past month’s Winter Meetings, MiLB showed their full support for both the BlueClaws and celebrations of inclusion by awarding Lakewood a Minor League Baseball Presidential Citation, in recognition of the team’s Pride Night.
In doing so, MiLB’s award sent the message that Minor League Baseball as an organization is willing to stand behind its teams when they celebrate their LGBTQ fans, even in the face of organized vocal opposition.
According to Daniel LoGiudice of the Asbury Park Press, BlueClaws President Joe Ricciutti accepted the award during the Winter Meetings and paid tribute to the role his fanbase played in earning it:
“This citation comes to the BlueClaws specifically because of the support that we received from the Jersey Shore community, from the fans and partners, in the days leading up to Pride Night and Pride Night itself.”
Back in June, the 50 protesters at BlueClaws Pride Night were met by a counter-demonstration numbering about 200 supporters of Pride. The counter-protesters carried signs reading “Love Trumps Hate” and led chants of “Let’s go gay!” and “Bigots go home!” The BlueClaws sent their own message that evening with a rainbow banner proclaiming “Baseball is for everyone.”
As that night demonstrated, the team helped bring their community together to stand up to narrow-minded intolerance. And it won’t be a one-shot deal either, as the BlueClaws have already announced they will be hosting another Pride Night in 2020, on Friday, June 12. While accepting the citation, Ricciutti also promised that the promotion will be “expanded.”
This MiLB citation made it official: the Jersey Shore community did something to make everyone feel good about humanity. And now I’m not sure why religious figures were protesting in the first place because Lakewood’s Pride Night just performed a miracle.