The Tampa Bay Ray’s 16th annual Pride Night celebration wasn’t exactly a grand slam after several players refused to wear rainbow-themed caps for the event.
Pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson were among the players who peeled off rainbow patches from their uniforms. They also ditched special caps sporting a rainbow version of the teams’ logo.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 4, 2022
Adam spoke to the Tampa Bay Times on behalf of the players who opted out of wearing the Pride gear.
“A lot of it comes down to faith, to like a faith-based decision. So it’s a hard decision. Because ultimately we all said what we want is them to know that all are welcome and loved here.
“But when we put it on our bodies, I think a lot of guys decided that it’s just a lifestyle that maybe — not that they look down on anybody or think differently — it’s just that maybe we don’t want to encourage it if we believe in Jesus, who’s encouraged us to live a lifestyle that would abstain from that behavior, just like (Jesus) encourages me as a heterosexual male to abstain from sex outside of the confines of marriage. It’s no different.”
“It’s not judgmental. It’s not looking down. It’s just what we believe the lifestyle he’s encouraged us to live, for our good, not to withhold. But again, we love these men and women, we care about them, and we want them to feel safe and welcome here.”
But outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who chose to wear the cap and burst logo, said inclusivity was an important element to him.
“It’s one of those things, my parents taught me to love everyone as they are, go live your life, whatever your preferences are, go be you,” Kiermaier said. “I can’t speak for everyone who’s in here, obviously, but this is a family-friendly environment here at a big-league ball field. … We just want everyone to feel welcomed and included and cheer us on. No matter what your views on anything are.”
FACT CHECK: Jesus never said a word about homosexuality, but he did tell Tampa Rays pitcher Jason Adams not to be a judgmental, holier-than-thou asshole. https://t.co/nDCmrnIfQZ
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) June 6, 2022
Team officials say they would have preferred full participation, but also felt it was important to give players and staff a choice whether or not to take part in the celebration.
Manager Kevin Cash told CBS Sports the players had several conversations over the past couple of weeks discussing the issue. “I think what it has created is, like, what you’ve heard — a lot of conversation and valuing the different perspectives inside the clubhouse but really appreciating the community that we’re trying to support here,” said Cash.
The Rays, along with the San Francisco Giants and the Los Angeles Dodgers, are the only three teams in Major League Baseball to incorporate the rainbow symbol into their uniforms for Pride Night. The Giants and Dodgers had full team participation.
For those interested, the Rays lost the game to the Chicago White Sox 3-2.
Honestly, I'm glad they took it off. These assholes don't deserve to share in our beauty.https://t.co/vVVycUjocY
— Queer News Daily on Insta (@Nico_Lang) June 6, 2022
If your religious beliefs keep you from wearing a symbol of accepting everyone, then you don’t actually accept everyone.
— The Barrelman’s Burner 🍺⚾️ (@barrelman_mke) June 6, 2022