The Houston Astros will give away a rainbow-colored hoodie on Wednesday as part of their first Pride night since 2010. Their opponent is the Texas Rangers, the only Major League Baseball team to never have an official night to honor their LGBTQ fans.
The Astros held their only previous Pride night in July 2010 and sold 1,000 tickets to the event that was understated for such a promotion (the city’s mayor at the time, Annise Parker, was openly gay, and yet she threw out the second pitch. The first went to some guy from a bank). Wednesday night promises to be better.
“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 told the Houston Chronicle before the 2020 season.
Houston is very LGBTQ-friendly and it’s great that the Astros are back with a Pride night (one was planned for 2020 but canceled due to the pandemic). Their opponents on Wednesday, the Rangers, also play in a gay-supportive market in Dallas-Fort Worth, yet the team’s distinction as being the only MLB team to never hold an official Pride night stands out more as each year passes.
What’s surprising is that the Rangers won’t address why they refuse to have a Pride night. Sam Blum of the Dallas Morning News tried and failed to get an answer from the team.
The Rangers haven’t publicly spoken about their specific internal initiatives to promote LGBTQ inclusion, instead highlighting their overall work on broader issues such as diversity and inclusion.
The Rangers declined to speak about their stance on hosting a pride day and the franchise’s work supporting the LGBTQ community. The Rangers haven’t done an external, public facing event, akin to the 29 other MLB franchises. ...
In a written statement, the team pointed to its work internally on topics surrounding diversity and inclusion.
“Our commitment is to make everyone feel welcome and included in Rangers baseball,” said Executive VP for Communications John Blake. “That means in our ballpark, at every game, and in all we do — for both our fans and our employees. We deliver on that promise across our many programs to have a positive impact across our entire community.”
Interestingly, when baseball writer Alex Plinck, who covers the Rangers, came out as gay a year ago, he was most worried about the team’s reaction and was pleasantly surprised, he wrote in an essay for Outsports.
Employees of the Rangers — the group I was worried most about — sent their best wishes. I was sitting on my bed crying, this time in pure joy. Interactions remained the same, and I still was my same awkward self, just more comfortable with who I was. I was able to even work all postseason games at Globe Life Field [including the World Series].
On Friday, Plinck was at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles as the team held its annual Pride night, with the Rangers as the opponent. Plinck did a great job asking the Rangers’ manager and players about it being Pride night and their answers showed they would have no problem with a similar event in Dallas.
“It’s an exciting atmosphere,” Rangers manager Chris Woodward told Plinck when he asked about anything that stands out during the Dodgers’ Pride Nights. “When you look around, it’s colors you’re not used to seeing. Usually, it’s all Dodger blue and white, and all of this sudden, you see different colors.”
Infield Charlie Culberson told Plinck of the time he played at Dodger Stadium during a previous Pride night when he was with the Colorado Rockies.
“I was here one night when I was with the Rockies as a visitor, and it was a big ordeal in a good way,” Culberson said. “In the outfield, a lot of people on the field enjoying themselves. I got some relatives that are gay. Just love everybody, enjoy every day, [and] treat everybody with respect.”
No one Plinck talked to would speculate on why the Rangers have never held a Pride night. Not only is the team an anomaly in MLB, they also stand out among Dallas pro teams. The Mavericks (NBA), Stars (NHL), Dallas FC (MLS) and Wings (WNBA) all host Pride celebrations. (If you are wondering about the Cowboys, no NFL franchise has held a regular Pride event since each team only plays eight regular season home games a year and ticket-selling promotions are not common).
There’s someone with power in the Rangers’ organization who is not making this happen, which is a shame since putting on such an event is commonplace even with clubs that for years resisted.