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During his three decades in Major League Baseball, Greg Bader has seen firsthand how much the game has opened up to become an environment for LGBTQ people to be their true selves. His everyday experience with the Baltimore Orioles front office in 2023 would have been almost inconceivable at the time he began working for them.
Starting as an intern in 1994, Bader had already accepted who he was as a gay man. However, he assumed that getting a job in sports meant that he would have to keep his authentic self separate from who he was in the office.
“I just assumed to be in sports and to be gay just meant that you would live two different lives,” said Bader, a member of the Outsports Power 100. “You’d have your professional life and you’d have your personal life and they wouldn’t meet.”
Since coming out to his coworkers in 2007, he discovered not just the professional acceptance he was hoping for but also an environment where LGBTQ people no longer had to worry about keeping a significant part of their lives secret.
“I think that if I learned that at the time, it probably would have given me a lot more confidence to feel like I could be myself more [and] share more,” Bader admitted. “Instead of the first dozen or 15 years of me not really cultivating very close relationships with colleagues, I think it probably would’ve allowed me to be even a better colleague but also, on a personal level connect with people a lot better.”
As Orioles senior vice president of administration and experience, Bader has connected with numerous luminaries from Hall of Famers to governors to even a future president of the United States. And he’s done it as one of the highest-ranking out gay executives in all of sports.
After overseeing the team’s marketing and communications efforts for a number of years, Bader was promoted to Senior VP in 2019. His new leadership position found him taking on a more administrative role dealing primarily with customer service and facility operations at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Bader had already left his mark on the legendary ballpark as part of the team that unveiled six statues of some of the greatest figures in Orioles history like Frank Robinson, Cal Ripken Jr. and Jim Palmer. He helped devise a plan of unveiling each new monument month by month and emphasized incorporating the fans during every dedication ceremony.
Having developed his love for baseball by attending games at Camden Yards and its predecessor Memorial Stadium as a child, Bader understood the responsibilities inherent in overseeing one of baseball’s cathedrals. “I just know how critical it is — particularly to kids but [also] to all fans — to just have that memory that draws you back time and again,” he emphasized.
To that end, Bader has been concentrating his efforts on balancing the need to make sure Camden evolves into a facility that offers what fans expect from attending a sporting event in 2023 while still maintaining its timeless charm.
He has also been part of the group looking at further developing the ballpark and mentioned that the team views Atlanta’s “The Battery” shopping and entertainment district as a model for their efforts. As part of establishing political connections to make that a reality, he hosted Maryland Gov. Wes Moore during Spring Training and later welcomed him to Camden Yards to throw out a first pitch.
That experience reminded Bader of a similar moment in 2009 when he was part of the contingent greeting another influential politician who lived in the area: then-Vice President Joe Biden.
In addition to those memorable encounters, two games in particular stood out in Bader’s mind as highlights from his tenure with the Orioles. On the field, he recalled that his greatest thrill was Game 2 of the 2014 ALDS when Delmon Young’s dramatic eighth inning bases-loaded double delivered the most stirring comeback win in that era of O’s baseball.
“I think if you ask any Orioles fan, it was the loudest that ballpark has ever been,” he said. “It was shaking. You had a lot of confidence in the team that year but for whatever reason, it was still such a jolt.”
But in terms of a sense of personal accomplishment, nothing could beat the first Orioles Pride Night in 2018. Bader remembered a sense of trepidation and fear of social media blowback when they first announced the promotion but once he saw his community fully represented at Camden Yards, he knew it was a resounding success.
“I do distinctly remember that it was kind of surreal for me to see other Orioles fans walking around with rainbow O’s caps and getting to meet a whole bunch of fans that I had never met before who were part of the LGBTQ community. For me, that was a really special moment,” he reflected.
It also reinforced that the LGBTQ community could find a home in baseball while still living their best lives. Which has been what Bader’s career has been all about.