UPDATE: The New York Yankees announced on Tuesday, April 9, that June 25 will be the date the Bronx Bombers will hold a special pre-game ceremony to “recognize the legacy of the Stonewall Uprising and WorldPride 2019,” as well as honor the five NYC public school students who will win $50,000 in scholarships. It’s a first for the Yankees, marking the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots. That night, however, is not designated as an “LGBT Pride Night” on the Yankees’ online schedule or promotions calendar. The Yankees tell Outsports more plans are in the works.
Put it in the books! March 28, 2019 is not only the earliest opening day in major league baseball history, but it marks the first season that all but two MLB clubs are celebrating LGBTQ pride: the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers.
If you’re keeping score at home, mark your programs Texas 0-2, Everybody Else 28 for 28.
The Chicago Cubs began the tradition in 2001 with “Gay Days” — now called “Out at Wrigley” — and in the 18 years since, ballclubs across the nation have joined in with rainbow festivities of their own.
But not every team. The Houston Astros held a pride night in 2010, with more than a thousand LGBTQ fans in attendance, but not one since. The Texas Rangers have also held just one. But neither the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Calif., nor a certain well-known love-’em-or-hate-’em American League team from The Bronx, have had a pride night.
You’ve seen the headlines in Outsports:
That all changes this year. Both the Angels and the Yanks are finally recognizing their LGBTQ fans and staff. Baseball writer Maury Brown first reported this for Forbes last July. According to Orange County, Calif., Pride, the Angels have selected June 25th for the team’s very first Pride Night, joining such popular promotion days and nights such as Cowboy Hat Night, Star Wars Night and Leather Logo Hat Night — mark your calendars for June 7th, leather fans!
The Rangers may not have a pride night but they will celebrate Texas universities, our U.S. armed forces, police officers, firefighters, first responders as well as holding Dino Day, Game of Thrones Night, Whataburger Night, Space Night, and more. And they’ll see what a real pride Night is like when the Rangers visit the Boston Red Sox in June.
And the Yankees? Well, the promotions calendar shows there will be a Star Wars Day in the Bronx, as well as a Marvel Superhero Night, but so far, there’s no night set aside for Pride. [SEE UPDATE AT TOP: JUNE 25 PRE-GAME CELEBRATION]
Wait, what? But, you said... Well, apparently, despite evidence to the contrary, the Yankees do have a plan for... something. We’ll let MLB’s vice president for social responsibility and inclusion, out former ballplayer Billy Bean, explain this one.
“The Yankees, historically, have held the least amount of theme nights throughout the season, because they are the New York Yankees,” Bean told Outsports, noting there are, of course, exceptions. For example, he was on the field the night in June 2016, when the Bronx Bombers paid homage to the victims of the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Fla., and their families.
“They kept the names of the victims on the scoreboard during the game and had a pride heart on the field,” Bean recalled. But that memorable event was sadly the extent of the Yankees displays of support for LGBTQ community. Until now, he says.
“This will be the first year they’re doing so and they’re going big.” said Bean.
“Going big” means two things: in September 2018, the team announced the Yankees-Stonewall Scholars Initiative. It’s a scholarship program aimed at commemorating this summer’s 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots as well as, in the words of a statement released last year, “to celebrate the achievements of New York City Public School graduating seniors.”
Those scholarships are substantial: $50,000 worth. Five students, one from each borough of New York City, will be presented with a college scholarship worth $10,000 each, during the Yankees’ homestand from June 17 through the 26th.
The second thing is alluded to by the MLB in an article on its website: “The team also revealed that it will hold other LGBTQ community-themed commemorations during the 2019 season.” One might reasonably presume these “commemorations” might occur when the scholarships are presented during the June homestand, facing the Tampa Bay Rays, the Houston Astros, and the Toronto Blue Jays.
Incidentally, those three teams have something in common with each other: they’re all participating in pride nights. Ironically, the Blue Jays are holding theirs on June 6, when the Yankees come to town. The Rays have scheduled theirs for June 14. And although the Astros do not have a pride night of their own scheduled, the team will be visiting St. Louis on July 26th for Cardinals’ 3rd annual pride night. So that sorta counts, doesn’t it? Not really, but it’s something. The Cubs kinda make up for it, with two nights set aside for their LGBTQ community.
Here now are the dates for all the MLB pride nights as of press time, as arranged alphabetically within each division:
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated to indicate the Angels are holding the team’s first Pride Night on June 25. We’ll update it again as we get more information about teams listed as “none” (Astros and Rangers). A link was added and the copy was revised to reflect that in September 2003, the Texas Rangers did hold one “Gay Day” game. An asterisk (*) was added to the listing for the Detroit Tigers because their “Pride Pack Day” event on June 26 is only for fans who purchase a promotional package, and not an event for general admission ticketholders. This story was further updated to note a pre-game ceremony will be held in the Bronx to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising on Tuesday, June 25. The Yankees say they are not designating it as a “Pride Night” as of press time but the team has more plans to celebrate LGBTQ fans in the works. And the Marlins announced their Pride Night will be held Thursday, June 27 when the Nationals come to visit.