After an offseason dominated by competitive balance tax thresholds and pre-arbitration bonus pools, it turns out there will be a baseball season after all!
In celebration of Opening Day (and my favorite holiday), it’s time to reconnect with the game. To help you get started, here is a look at every MLB team’s connection to the LGBTQ community.
As one of the highest ranking LGBTQ executives in baseball, Vice President and Chief Legal Officer Nona Lee has helped promote a spirit of inclusion by founding the “D-backs For Change” initiative. This program includes an LGBTQ+ resource group that brings the team’s out employees and allies together in a safe environment to share their life experiences.
2022 Outlook: After a 110 loss season last year that signaled a full-on rebuild, the D-backs roster consists of mostly retreads and placeholders who, if everything breaks right, could contend for a World Series in 2014.
Former Braves closer John Rocker’s homophobic and racist rant about the New York City 7 train is one of the most infamous diatribes in sports history. But it’s worth remembering what one prominent Brave said in response. “I have no place in my heart for people who feel that way.”
That was all-time legend Henry Aaron doing what he did best: standing up for marginalized communities and being an exemplary representative of baseball and humanity.
2022 Outlook: The World Champions dropped the ball in letting Freddie Freeman walk to L.A. but Matt Olson is still a pretty impressive replacement. And when the brilliant Ronald Acuña Jr. returns in mid-season, he’ll represent an infusion of talent similar to the deadline trades that propelled Atlanta to the Series last year.
For a number of years, the Baltimore LGBTQ community had organized an annual informal Pride Night at Orioles games. Then the Orioles stepped up and made it an official promotion in 2018, leading VP of Communications and Marketing Greg Bader to enthuse, “Based on the behind-the-scenes support the organization has afforded me and my fellow LGBT coworkers through the years, it’s no surprise that the team would also be so supportive in the public way.”
2022 Outlook: The most exciting move the Orioles made this offseason was moving their left field fence back 26 feet. Orioles Magic — feel it happen!
Boston Red Sox
In April of 2016, the Red Sox invited Billy Bean to give a presentation about his life story and efforts to make MLB more inclusive. The day after Bean’s appearance, Red Sox ticket sales executive David Baggs was moved to write to team ownership and tell them he was gay. As Boston’s own Alex Reimer has written, the fact that an organization owned for decades by the bigoted Tom Yawkey now operates with such an atmosphere of acceptance is as miraculous as a David Ortiz at bat in October.
2022 Outlook: One of baseball’s biggest surprises in 2021, the Sox offense should lead them back to contention, but Chris Sale’s injury means another year of hoping for five competent innings and bullpen health.
With Wrigley Field located a couple blocks from Halsted Street, the Cubs have forged a connection to Chicago’s Boystown neighborhood that’s unique in all of baseball. Team icons Ernie Banks and Ryne Sandberg have represented the Cubs in Chicago’s Pride parade. In 2014, the Cubs rescheduled a late-June Sunday afternoon game to accommodate the parade as well. And of course, there’s Out at Wrigley, the annual LGBTQ day at the ballpark that’s been going strong since 2001. I wish I could use that same phrase to describe the team on the field.
2022 Outlook: Continuing the theme of Cubs/Boystown connections, based on President Jed Hoyer’s near-pathological fervor to trade the core of the 2016 World Series champions for untested teenagers, it’s fair to conclude the Cubs are going through a twink phase. And like all twink phases, it’s going to be painful to watch.
Chicago White Sox
“The Cuban Comet” Minnie Miñoso, one of the greatest players in White Sox history, is finally receiving his overdue Hall of Fame induction this summer. Miñoso’s son Charlie is gay and on the one-year anniversary of Minnie’s death, he penned a moving tribute revealing the heartfelt fatherly love he received after coming out. Miñoso set an example for all Hall of Famers about how to be the dad an LGBTQ child needs and in an ideal world, the bond between him and Charlie would receive the biggest applause in Cooperstown.
2022 Outlook: The White Sox are absolutely loaded with power and swag. Even though management curiously added little to put them over the top, they could still easily be the class of the American League.
Joey Votto is one of the greatest hitters of this generation, a future Hall of Famer, a new TikTok star, and the kind of fun player who points to his own name during his home run trot because he saw it on Ted Lasso. He was also one of the first players to congratulate then-umpire Dale Scott on coming out, shaking his hand and telling Scott he was proud of him during a spring training game. Just a total credit to the Reds.
2022 Outlook: Unfortunately, Votto is also the only good player Cincinnati didn’t trade to a contender this offseason, perhaps as part of a convoluted plan to get revenge on Canada for sending us Drake.
Holy cow does it feel good to write that name. Cleveland’s minstrelesque racist mascot is now firmly consigned to the past. That means the team will thankfully no longer be selling Chief Wahoo Pride flags and Guardians fans will finally get to learn what it’s like to watch a Pride Night game without their palms firmly pressed against their faces.
2022 Outlook: The Guardians are entering a transition phase but recent signings of José Ramírez and Emmanuel Clase indicate they aren’t going to tear their roster down. There’s not enough depth to contend but they won’t be pushovers either.
When Colorado signed the lamentable Daniel Murphy in 2019, a group of Rockies fans started an initiative called “Bases For Pride” which raised donations for LGBTQ charities based on the homophobic first baseman’s offensive performance. According to the group’s Twitter feed, they ended up contributing around $12,000 during the two years Murphy was in Colorado. Considering his defensive incompetence, this might have been the only assist Murphy recorded during his entire career.
2022 Outlook: The entire baseball world gave a Jim from “The Office” doubletake when the Rockies signed former MVP Kris Bryant to a seven-year contract. I can’t explain it either, but I can promise that every time KB crushes a line drive into Coors Field’s expansive gaps, watching him run the bases to leg out triple after triple is going to be the kind of art that should be signed by Monet.
In 2019, Outsports reported that the Tigers were holding a Pride Promotion but oddly insisting on calling it a “Pride Pack Day” and burying it on their Special Offers webpage instead of listing it on the schedule. Maybe they were worried if they showed too much enthusiasm for inclusion, Ty Cobb’s ghost would rise up and try to spike Miguel Cabrera. Two years later, Pride Night is now prominently listed on their schedule on June 1 and Miggy can still walk. See, that wasn’t so hard!
2022 Outlook: The Tigers were playing some impressive baseball at the end of 2021. With the additions of top prospect Spencer Torkelson and the inimitable Javy Báez, it feels like they’re about to have one of those joyous years where everyone realizes they’re fun and about to get really good.
After years with their heads in the sand when it came to their LGBTQ fans, the Astros have made two giant leaps forward by hiring Glenn Burke’s mentor Dusty Baker as manager and bringing back Pride Night in 2021. Now someone just needs to put two and two together for this year’s Pride and realize that their throwback tequila sunrise jerseys were made for rainbow colors. Oh, and change their name to the Houston Zazztros.
2022 Outlook: Despite losing Carlos Correa to free agency, the return of Justin Verlander should ensure that there’s still enough talent on this roster to contend for another pennant.
Kansas City Royals
The 2014 Royals breaking a 29-year pennant drought to return to the World Series remains an iconic memory for generations of KC fans. It’s even more special for Royals Senior Manager for Special Events Matt Schulte who was inspired by their magical postseason to come out to his front office co-workers by telling his story to Outsports. He has since helped turn the Royals’ first two Pride Nights into major successes.
2022 Outlook: After years back in the doldrums, it feels like the Royals are on the right track but they need a top prospect like Bobby Witt Jr. to actually live up to the hype to make the newfound hope feel real.
Los Angeles Angels
Although minor league pitcher Kieran Lovegrove first came out to teammates as bisexual when he was with the Giants organization in 2019, he came out publicly last year while playing in the Angels system. When he joined his new organization, he introduced himself to teammates by telling them “I’m probably the only openly bisexual teammate any of you have ever had.” A thoughtful and introspective player, Lovegrove found that his teammates’ support “made me fall in love with baseball and clubhouse culture again.”
2022 Outlook: Every year, the Angels seemingly make a bet to see how many of the best players in baseball they can employ and still miss the playoffs. And every year, they top themselves. Free Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
Los Angeles Dodgers
There are so many places we can go with the Dodgers. Glenn Burke. Billy Bean. The first Pride Night. Co-owners Billie Jean King and Ilana Kloss. VP Eric Braverman’s Dodger Stadium wedding. But this year, it feels right to focus on this…
The only way to make baseball’s best uniform even better? Eltonize it.
2022 Outlook: The addition of Freddie Freeman to a 106-win team will make the Dodgers invincible right up until management attempts once again to show everyone how much smarter they are than the rest of baseball and they get eliminated in the first round.
Last summer, the Marlins front office viewed a video in which a local 13-year-old transgender girl named Chad Sanford was bullied and shoved to the ground in a Miami area high school. Looking to take a stand against bullying, the Marlins invited Sanford to a VIP suite for a June home game and introduced her to several Miami LGBTQ community leaders. She also got to go on the field before the game and paint the Marlins mound logo in Pride colors. That’s how you do allyship right.
2022 Outlook: The Marlins have developed one of the most imposing pitching staffs in the game but former CEO Derek Jeter’s surprise resignation indicated that Miami ownership doesn’t intend to spend what it takes to assemble a true contender. In other breaking news, Jeter just discovered water is wet.
An important baseball barrier was broken in the Brewers organization in 2015 when David Denson became the first minor leaguer to come out as gay while still an active player. Denson’s teammates told him “We’ve got your back” and he reflected that “It was nice to know my teammates see me for who I am, not my sexuality.”
2022 Outlook: The Brewers appear to be leading a bizarre protest against the universal DH by constructing a roster consisting of only pitchers and zero hitters. Their arms will help them dominate a weak NL Central but refusing to add an impact bat is organizational malpractice.
After a terrible experience at a previous job where a co-worker complained about him talking about his boyfriend, Twins call center senior coordinator Chris Frogge resolved to stand up for the LGBTQ community at every place that employed him going forward. He currently serves on the Twins Pride committee and represents the team at their booth in the Twin Cities Pride Festival. Frogge’s mission statement is to the point: “I want everyone who comes to Target Field to feel the same excitement and acceptance that I feel every day I walk into the ballpark.”
2022 Outlook: The Twins shocked the baseball world when they landed Carlos Correa and are firmly committed to contending this year. A healthy Byron Buxton would go a long way toward making that a reality, but a healthy Byron Buxton has happened precisely once.
New York Mets
If you want to get a sense of how far the LGBTQ community in sports has come in two decades, consider 2002’s Mike Piazza kerfuffle. After the New York Post printed a rumor than an anonymous Mets star was gay, Piazza felt the need to call an honest-to-god press conference to announce “I’m not gay. I’m heterosexual.” So if you ever wondered if it was possible to Mets the concept of sexuality, there you have it.
2002 Outlook: Things were looking so good until a week ago when Jacob deGrom felt something in his shoulder. The Mets would be a dynasty by now if pitching didn’t involve the human arm.
New York Yankees
In 2019, the Yankees unveiled a plaque in Monument Park commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising. Because they’re the Yankees, they chose to inscribe it with corporatized and anodyne language referring to “the events at New York City’s Stonewall Inn.” Everyone knows that the first Pride was a riot. And Yankee fans commemorate that every time a call gets reversed against them in the playoffs.
2022 Outlook: After spinning their wheels all offseason, it feels like the end is near for this current core, but at least General Manager Brian Cashman can still blame missing another pennant on the Astros cheating five years ago.
Glenn Burke finished his career with a troubled tenure in Oakland, as his last two seasons with the A’s were marred by fights with hecklers and anti-gay slurs from homophobic and profoundly overrated manager Billy Martin. However, in recent seasons, the A’s have attempted to make amends, inviting his family to throw out the first pitch and last year announcing that their Pride Night will be named after Burke.
2022 Outlook: If you can name any player in the A’s lineup, surprise! He’s about to be wearing a different uniform.
After stepping down as CEO in 2007, former Pirates owner Kevin McClatchy came out as gay in a 2012 New York Times article. While there were occasional rumors about McClatchy’s sexuality during his time with the Pirates, the news still caught most of the baseball world by surprise. Sadly, to this date, no Pirates owner has ever come out as willing to spend money on the team.
2022 Outlook: You exerted more effort reading this sentence than the Pirates have in assembling a competitive roster.
The Phillies are an example of how it’s not enough to simply schedule a Pride Night and watch good publicity roll in. In 2018, Phillies Pride Night coincided with a celebration of their 1993 pennant winners whose pitching staff was led by…Curt Schilling. That went over like the Philadelphia Pride Parade being led by Grand Marshal Joe Carter.
Perhaps that was a one-off error. How did next year’s Phillies Pride Night go?
y’all can make the Liberty Bell outlines in rainbow and toss up “Pride Night” signs all over the screens but when it’s under a Chick-Fil-A ad, it shows that truly the @Phillies haven’t changed a damn a thing. what an unsurprising disappointment pic.twitter.com/cIGbk1ZXM9— cole (@historiancole) June 26, 2019
Ye gods, that’s a bad look. But at least this year, Phillies broadcasters will finally be able to interrupt that picture with “as there’s a drive into deep left field by Castellanos…”
2022 Outlook: Everyone is throwing shade at the Phillies’ defense but with their home park featuring one of the smallest outfields in baseball, it won’t come into play as much as you’d think. Instead of worrying, just sit back and watch them reduce baseballs to their component molecules.
San Diego Padres
Things could’ve gotten awkward in 2019 when Padres Pride Night conflicted with Good Friday and the first night of Passover. But why was this night different from all other nights? Because nearly 5,000 LGBTQ Friar Faithful still showed up. After a miracle like that, who knew the Padres took their name so literally?
2022 Outlook: After the most disappointing finish in baseball last year, the Padres open this season with the transcendent Fernando Tatís Jr. on the injured list for the first three months. But with MLB adding another playoff team to the mix, they’ve still got the talent to hang around until he gets back and then take off after that.
San Francisco Giants
When Pride Nights were hard to come by during the 1990s, the Giants set an example in community outreach by dedicating an annual promotion to AIDS Awareness called Until There’s A Cure Day. In addition to making donations to AIDS charities, the Giants wore red ribbons on their uniforms and honored activists like Cleve Jones and Mary Fisher. Numerous prominent Giants have joined in over the years from Rod Beck to Hunter Pence to Brandon Crawford to Barry Bonds. So from Day 1, the promotion has been dedicated to medical miracles like proving Bonds has a heart.
2022 Outlook: All last year, everyone wondered when the Giants would regress to the middling team we thought they were and the answer was apparently “sometime after they win 107 games.” Now we’re all wondering if last season was a fluke — which is exactly what they want.
It’s unfortunately common for a team to announce a Pride Night on social media followed by the dregs of the internet posting homophobic vitriol in response. But in 2017, the Mariners showed other organizations how to clap back. After one troll commented, “It’s not your job. Win a World Series,” the Mariners responded, “It’s not our job to celebrate veterans. Or salute volunteers. Or visit kids in school around the Seattle community. But, like this, we do it anyway — because it’s the right thing to do.” Like everything uttered by Dave Niehaus, that was perfectly said.
2022 Outlook: After being eliminated on the last day of 2021, the Mariners look to finally end their two-decade long playoff drought. Since their negative run differential indicated regression was likely, they need new addition Jesse Winker and stud prospect Julio Rodríguez to perform at their best in order to finally slay their October failure demon.
St. Louis Cardinals
Last winter, I received an e-mail informing me that Bob Gibson’s transgender son wanted to tell his story. “Oh wow,” I thought, “I didn’t know Bob Gibson had a transgender child. I’ll bet he’s led an interesting life.” My word was that the understatement of the year. Ray Gibson’s story is utterly fascinating and it was an honor to help amplify it.
2022 Outlook: “What if we built an entire team out of Ozzie Smiths” is actually a pretty solid idea as the Cardinals took home five Gold Gloves in 2021. And their stellar defense should continue this season, provided no Cardinal injures himself by straining to pretend that Yadier Molina had anything to do with it.
Tampa Bay Rays
Following the Pulse Massacre, the Rays dedicated a night at Tropicana Field to raise funds for victims. Players took the field before the game wearing T-shirts reading “We Are Orlando” and in a Field of Dreams-esque “people will come” moment, more than 40,000 fans turned out to raise more than $300,000. It’s no exaggeration to say that this was one of the most important nights in Tampa Bay baseball history.
2022 Outlook: By mid-season, half of the Rays roster and 90 percent of their bullpen will consist of names that sound like team management mistakenly gave contracts to MLB “The Show’s” “Create a Player” option. And Tampa Bay will somehow still be on its way to 98 wins.
Good news, everybody! After years of being MLB’s lone holdout against the concept, the Rangers finally have scheduled a Pride promotion this season!
That’s right. On April 15, Texas will be giving away ... Charley Pride bobbleheads.
Wait, you thought this was about a different kind of Pride Night? What on Earth would give you that impression?
Oh yeah, the fact that it’s 2022. Get with it, Rangers. This is beyond embarrassing.
2022 Outlook: To give the Rangers front office a bit of credit, they seem to understand that spending money on the roster is a way to stop embarrassing themselves on the field. They aren’t contenders yet, but Corey Seager and Marcus Semien give them one of the best middle infields in the game and they should be much more watchable.
Toronto Blue Jays
The Jays were one of the first teams to host Pride Nights in the early 2000s but eventually let them disappear for more than a decade. Then after Yunel Escobar’s and Kevin Pillar’s anti-gay slurs embarrassed the organization, Toronto partnered with You Can Play to bring back Pride in 2018 and did it right.
2022 Outlook: Vladimir Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Matt Chapman, George Springer. I’m usually not a fashion writer but this summer, all the cool people in Canada will be wearing the Blue Jays home run jacket.
After what he termed a “gap year,” Sean Doolittle is making a return to the place where he helped secure the 2019 World Series championship. He and wife, Eireann Dolan, have been two of the best LGBTQ allies MLB has ever seen. From buying A’s Pride Night tickets for LGBTQ charities to declining a post-World Series visit to Donald Trump’s White House to show solidarity with Dolan’s two moms, Doolittle consistently walks the walk. Here’s hoping his arm has at least one more great season left.
2022 Outlook: The Nats jettisoned most of their 2019 core last summer, but their rebuild needs to be a quick one in order to convince hitting genius Juan Soto to stay in DC when he becomes a free agent in two years.