The Pawtucket Red Sox are taking some heat on social media after inviting former White House press secretary Sean Spicer to toss the first pitch Friday night, the very evening the Rhode Island minor league team celebrated “Pride Night at the Ballpark.”
Longreads sports columnist Britni de la Cretaz tweeted to her 13.5K followers: “What an insult to all their queer fans.” That’s in reference to the Trump administration’s record in relation to the LGBTQ community, as reported by the Washington Blade, Buzzfeed and The New York Times.
Others called it “tone-deaf,” “a garbage move,” and asked why someone from the LGBTQ community wasn’t chosen for the honor. Another criticized the Paw Sox for choosing to have a veteran join Spicer.
They paired it with a veterans thing so to make it harder to criticize, too, it's gross— Marc Normandin (@Marc_Normandin) July 19, 2019
Before the game, Spicer presented Lopes, a Rhode Islander wounded during his service with the U.S. Marines in Iraq in 2005, with an all-terrain wheelchair from The Independence Fund. Spicer is member of the board of directors of the charity, which has donated more than 2,300 of these types of wheelchairs.
“Understanding the impact these chairs have in restoring the freedom and independence of our wounded warriors has tremendous impact on me.” - @seanspicer, @IndyFund Board Member.— The Independence Fund (@IndyFund) July 20, 2019
Thanks @PawSox for helping Veteran Carlos Lopes at tonight's game.
More: https://t.co/WAfinIPGWK pic.twitter.com/6lwQsWdnVL
UPDATE: A PawSox spokesperson told Outsports they won’t be issuing any official statement in response to online criticism that the team insulted LGBTQ fans by honoring Spicer and Lopes on the same night dedicated to celebrating the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. The spokesperson said Pride Night at the Ballpark was scheduled far in advance and Friday happened to be the only night the veterans group was available. The team was very proud to have honored both LGBTQ fans and the Independence Fund, the spokesperson said.
Spicer made no mention of Pride Night in his own social media post.
Amazing night at McCoy Stadium. Presented this tracked wheel chair to a Marine Corps veteran from Rhode Island on behalf of the @IndyFund at the @pawsox game and then joined him to throw out the first pitch.… https://t.co/3HoiXN88z2— Sean Spicer (@seanspicer) July 19, 2019
The Paw Sox are the Triple A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox and currently in last place in the International League North. On Friday they played the Charlotte Knights, a minor league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox, and won, 4-3.