Just three weeks ago, Sean Conroy pitched a 3-hit shutout for the Sonoma Stompers (of the independent league Pacific Association Baseball Clubs). It was Conroy’s first start with the team since being signed right out of college in May. It also happened to be Pride Night at the Stompers.
Oh. And Conroy just so happens to be the first openly gay professional baseball player in the nation’s history.
The weird thing is, though, the media hasn’t really said much about it. There appears to have been one AP article that was picked up by a lot of news outlets, including ESPN.com. The Washington Times picked up the story, but not the New York Times – at least not fully. Buried at the bottom of an AP article summarizing the previous night’s games is a few sentences with the title, “Openly Gay Pitcher in the Minors.” The next day, the NYT printed another AP piece titled, “10 Things to Know for Today.” Listed between #6, “Trump Comments Rankle TV Networks,” and #8, “Bristol Palin Pregnant Again,” was “Who Made Diamond History.” And all it states is: “Baseball history is made in Northern California wine country when 23-year-old Sean Conroy, the sport’s first active professional player to come out as gay, pitches a shutout.”
In my research on diversity/heritage days and other observances at baseball stadiums this year, I’ve run across only a handful of LGBT pride events. However, the more digging I did, the more I realized that a lot of teams had such events, they just didn’t necessarily advertise them – often remaining completely silent and leaving the organizing and advertising up to partner organizations.
Of course, when the Oakland A’s announced they’d be holding their first-ever Pride Night on June 17 this year, some fans were not too happy about it. However, one player’s girlfriend took care of the problem by offering to buy people’s tickets. She blogged, “So, A’s fans; if attending a baseball game on LGBT Pride Night makes you at all uncomfortable, it is probably a good idea to sell your tickets. And I have the perfect buyer. ME!” The tickets she purchased, she said, would be donated to the Bay Area LGBTQ youth center. She also set up a “Go Fund Me Page” to purchase more tickets for the community center. She and A’s ballplayer Sean Doolittle pledged to match the first $3,000 in donations.
Some teams have been holding LGBT pride events for years – such as the Chicago White Sox and San Francisco Giants. Others are just starting to befriend this part of the community, such as the Detroit Tigers and Tampa Bay Rays, both of whom held their first LGBT events this year.
Here’s the list of pride events I’ve found so far. The lack of information is astounding. As I learn more, I’ll post more on this issue.
|6/12||Red Sox||Pride Night|
|6/12||Tampa Bay||Pride Night|
|6/17||Nationals||Night Out (LGBT)|
|6/18||Nashville||Night Out at the Ballpark|
|6/19||Dodgers||LGBT Pride Night|
|6/23||Bridgeport Bluefish||LGBTQ Community Night|
|6/30||Orioles||LGBT Baseball Night Out|
|7/6||Staten Island||Pride Night|
|7/16||Buffalo||Out at the Ballpark|
|7/30||Phillies||Gay Community Night|
|8/25||Toronto||Play with Pride Night|
|8/29||White Sox||Out at the Sox|