Baseball teams often have themed game nights celebrating fans of all backgrounds There are youth nights and fireworks nights celebrating America as well as Israeli, Greek, and other heritage nights and teacher appreciation nights. But now for the first time in New York City Major League Baseball history, there will be an LGBT Pride night, according to the New York Mets.
On August 13, the Mets host the San Diego Padres at 7:10 p.m., and the team expects to be surrounded by more than 5,000 LGBT sports fans. After all, what's gayer than single-sex sports paired with stylish uniforms? Maybe Olympic paired beach volleyball ... but we digress.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio praised the team on his Facebook Page:
Money from ticket sales will go to fund the LGBT Network's initiatives aimed at fighting bullying in schools on Long Island and in Queens, according to the Mets website. In a news release announcing the event, LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick said bullying remained a major problem for LGBT youth. “Over 82 percent report being verbally and physically harassed in the past year. It’s not only the school hallways where our young people report feeling unsafe, but also on the ball field," said Kilmnick.
The team's support of LGBT people first came into question last spring when slugger Daniel Murphy — now with the Washington Nationals — was quoted as saying about gays that he “disagree[s] with the lifestyle, 100 percent,” according to Deadspin.
Up until last summer, the Mets enjoyed a questionable practice of "pranking" players from the opposing team by showing them on the kiss cam. The billboard feature usually shows couples who performing stadium-sized romantic gestures. However in this case, the team used the camera to apparently "joke" that their opponents were "gay."
In the news release quoted in the New York Daily News, Kilmnick — who described himself as a lifelong Mets fan — said he was "proud that the New York Mets are not only the defending National League Champions, but the champion of the New York sports world in making sure that everyone is welcomed and celebrated at Citi Field.”
Mets executive vice president Lou DePaoli said in the release that “New York is the most diverse and inclusive city in the world, and the Mets welcome all fans throughout the season. We are particularly proud to welcome the LGBT community on Pride Night at Citi Field.”