The Houston Astros, still smarting from getting caught red-handed in the sign-stealing scandal, announced a break from tradition Tuesday that puts the team on par with every MLB club except the Texas Rangers: Minute Maid Park will host a Pride Night on June 24 when the Minnesota Twins come to town.
“We recognize this is one of the most diverse cities in the country and we recognize the city has one of the strongest, if not the strongest, LGBTQ communities in the state,” Astros’ senior vice president for marketing and communications Anita Sehgal said at the team’s annual media luncheon Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle. The paper’s Chandler Rome broke the news on Twitter.
The team released a new rainbow-flag version of the traditional Astros “H” and star logo on Tuesday [see above] with the caption, “Baseball Is For Everyone.”
This is actually not the first Pride Night for the Astros; it is their first one in a decade. In 2010, the team held its first and only “Houston Astros Pride in the Park” night; more than 1,000 fans attended. That was also the team’s last Pride night, until now.
“It’s a huge statement to have a Pride Night,” Tammi Wallace, co-founder and board chair of the Greater Houston LGBT Chamber, told the Houston Chronicle. “There are tons of LGBTQ fans, so for us to be able to participate and be recognized in the most diverse city in the country, it’s time.”
About the only way an Astros fan could show both Houston and LGBTQ pride until this season was by purchasing a Pride T-shirt at the MLB store.
Last year, the Astros were the only playoff team that didn’t hold a Pride Night in its regular season, and that record stood in stark contrast to their World Series rivals, the Washington Nationals, who had proudly held a Pride Night for 15 seasons. Houston was one of only two teams in all of MLB in 2019 with that dubious distinction; the other being the Texas Rangers.
Like the Astros, the Rangers also have only one pride celebration event in its history, and it was way back in 2003. And as Outsports co-founder Jim Buzinski wrote in 2004, it “was overshadowed by an outpouring of local people who saw the embracing of gay fans by the team as embracing sin.”
The Chicago Cubs began the tradition in 2001 with “Gay Days” — now called “Out at Wrigley” — and in the 19 years since, ballclubs across the nation have joined in with rainbow festivities of their own.
Last season, the Kansas City Royals, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the New York Yankees held their first-ever celebrations of their LGBTQ fans. Of course, the Bronx Bombers decided to name their event a “Legacy of Pride” night, and not a “Pride Night,” because they’re the Yankees. In 2019, the team did say they would offer five “Stonewall Scholarships” to five New York City high school students again this year. We’re still waiting word on whether the Legacy of Pride game will be repeated in 2020.
Outsports reached out to both the Yankees and the Rangers for information about their plans, if any, and had not received a response as of press time. As we do every year, we’ll have a full roundup of Pride nights across the MLB on or before opening day for the baseball season, March 26, 2020.