It’s a pretty safe assumption that no one experienced more MLB Pride in 2022 than Dale Scott.
Thanks to the book tour for his excellent autobiography “The Umpire Is Out,” Scott — who is openly gay — visited eight Pride Nights from coast to coast throughout May and June. He came away impressed by every one.
“Every team had a different flavor,” he said. “Some had more groups and organizations involved than others. But what struck me overall … never at any of the eight that I was at did I feel like, ‘Well, we’re just doing this ‘cause we kinda have to do this.’ There was enthusiasm. The employees were enthusiastic. They couldn’t have been nicer. That struck me that it certainly didn’t come off as, ‘Well, we need to do this because everybody else is and we could certainly care less.’”
This level of excitement was to be expected when Scott’s tour took him to Dodgers and Giants Pride. They set the example for the rest of baseball. But it’s especially gratifying to hear that he found that same spirit when he visited the Padres, Orioles, Nationals, Diamondbacks, Mets, and Mariners.
After all, no one goes to Pride to experience a perfunctory rainbow.
Scott used the Orioles as an example of how much MLB Pride has developed. In 2018, he threw out the first pitch in Baltimore and found it a perfectly enjoyable night. Four years later, he returned to Camden Yards and found that the O’s have used their Pride event to cultivate a sense of community.
“This year, I was set up for a book signing. We had other organizations where people could participate and sign up or do whatever,” he noted. “It just seemed [there was] so much more going on … you could just see it had grown, it was better run, everything went smooth, and it was just great to see that.”
This development also happened in San Diego, with Petco Park’s center field park being used to promote numerous LGBTQ organizations and resources. Meanwhile in San Francisco, Oracle Park’s Cloud Club was transformed from a luxury suite into a space for the community to enjoy that day’s game.
These details make all the difference in showing LGBTQ fans that they’re welcome. A rainbow hat is great, but the giveaway part of the evening lasts for all of five seconds. When teams take that extra step to uplift the community, that’s what turns a mundane June game into an all-night celebration.
Giants Pride Day turned out to be one of the highlights of Scott’s tour, as he had the opportunity to take part in the exchange of lineup cards during the first game in MLB history when both teams and the umpiring crew wore rainbow logo caps on the field.
Before the game, Giants manager Gabe Kapler and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts met Scott at home plate said what a cool moment it was. Which, in grizzled old baseball guy terms, is the equivalent to the emotional reaction in any theater when someone starts singing the number 525,600.
Naturally, the moment got Scott right in the feels too. He compared the experience to the “is this really happening?” sense he felt riding with Billy Bean on the MLB float in the 2018 NYC Pride parade. As Scott remembered, “It just was so not even in the realm of imagination, quite frankly, back when I first started through the 90s. That wasn’t something that was realistic.”
In fact, Scott found himself so caught up that he momentarily messed up the exchange of line-up cards. Thankfully, neither Kapler nor Roberts asked for a replay review, which most certainly falls under the category of “good allyship.”
At each stop along the way, Scott signed copies of his book for fans, which gave him several opportunities to meet more people who were inspired by his story. In Washington, a fan told Scott “you helped unlock that last handcuff” to help her be her true self. At his stop in Arizona, another fan made a sign in support of Scott, Bean, and Glenn Burke and told him that they helped him reinforce a sense self-worth at a time when he was being bullied.
And in San Francisco, a lesbian couple approached Scott in tears, with one woman telling him, “You don’t realize how you moved me [and] gave me the courage to do things that I’ve done in my life since then. The courage at work. The courage with other friends or family members. The courage to know that I am OK. And I’m a huge baseball fan. You came out and it was a shining light.”
Such words of praise touched and humbled Scott, which in true umpire mode, he tried to deflect by claiming, “I’m just a guy who was trying to get pitches right.” But as his Pride Month experience demonstrated, when he came out publicly, it changed a lot of people’s lives for the better. And at each stop on his book tour, MLB Pride Nights showed him time and again that in his own way, he’s living the credo of Jackie Robinson:
“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”