Texas Rangers Only MLB Team With No Pride | Dallas Observer


'Closeted Support': Texas Rangers Only MLB Team To Not Host LGBTQ Pride Event

Pride Night events at MLB ballparks are commonplace, except in Arlington.
Pride Night events at MLB ballparks are commonplace, except in Arlington. Max Bohme/Unsplash
In 2001 the Chicago Cubs became the first Major League Baseball team to host a game dedicated to the LGBTQ community. Originally called “Gay Day,” the annual event at storied Wrigley Field has gone by “Out at Wrigley” in more recent times. Over the past two decades, almost every other MLB franchise has conducted its own version of a Pride Night promotion, where at least one game out of 81 regular season home games is designated to welcome LGBTQ fans to the park.

The only team that will not host a Pride event in 2023: Your Texas Rangers.

The Rangers, currently riding high atop the American League West standings with the second-best record in baseball, are not the only pro sports franchise in town to eschew such an event, mind you. The Dallas Cowboys do not carry out any an annual LGBTQ promotion, but the same can be said for almost the entire NFL roster of franchises, for whatever that’s worth.

Most Pride-themed games offer a bevy of rainbow-intensive notes. Oftentimes a team will be outfitted with caps or jerseys sporting its logo in a rainbow pattern instead of its usual color, for example. Charitable partnerships are promoted and Pride-themed merchandise is typically available on these nights.

Over the course of their seasons, the North Texas pro teams host an array of themed nights celebrating various cultures. Along with the Mavs, Stars and FC Dallas, the Arlington baseball squad hosts a game honoring and celebrating Latin heritage, for the most common example.

The Dallas Mavericks of the NBA, the Dallas Stars of the NHL and MLS’ FC Dallas, however, do host annual Pride night events. We asked the Cowboys whether there are plans to produce any such event during the upcoming NFL season, but we did not receive a reply.

Of course, pro-sports Pride promotions have been social and political lightning rods for some time now. Several times a year, athletes in multiple sports make news for choosing to not wear a warmup jersey, cap or armband specifically designed for the Pride game. Statements involving the player’s faith are typically given to defend their decision.

“It’s shocking that 20 years after the first Pride Night, the Texas Rangers are the only ones to not honor the community with a simple evening.” – Susie Hess, Stonewall Democrats of Dallas

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In 2022 five Tampa Bay Rays players cited their Christian beliefs for not wearing a Pride-themed patch on their uniforms. More recently, Dallas native, resident and surefire future Baseball Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw put the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Pride night in the national spotlight when he disagreed with the team’s inclusion of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, a drag comedy troupe. The team uninvited, then reinvited the satirical outfit, while also announcing a “Christian Faith and Family Day,” an event the pitcher pushed for.

The Rangers lack of a Pride Night hasn’t gone unnoticed by those who are paid to watch the team. Levi Weaver of The Athletic spent several years as the Rangers beat writer for the all-sports outlet and began covering the entire league this season. He traveled to Florida last weekend to report on the Rangers’ series against the Tampa Bay Rays, a team that celebrated its own Pride Day on June 10. Prior to the game that day, Weaver tweeted out a thread that has since gone viral.

“I have some thoughts on Pride Nights, as I sit in the press box and see this [a rainbow Rays logo next to a Rangers logo] in right field, and consider that one of these teams is the only one in the league that refuses to have one,” read the initial tweet of Weaver’s thread, which has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.

Weaver goes on to say in further tweets: “One thing I think a lot of people (speaking to my fellow Christians here; the “I would never mean to cause hurt, but I’m opposed to Pride Night because of my personal beliefs” crowd) get wrong is what having a Pride Night even means: Maybe it would help if you re-framed it. Instead of viewing it as a celebration of something you don’t believe in, try thinking of it as a way to show people that they are welcome and included in the baseball world.”

Being the only MLB team out of 30 to not specifically and intentionally welcome the LGBTQ community to a game means the Rangers are an outlier. With new headlines on a nearly weekly basis being made around the country during Pride month from corporations coming under fire for expressing pro-LGBTQ views or selling rainbow-colored merchandise, it’s not a stretch to at least wonder if the Rangers are simply trying to avoid controversy.

We asked the club why it has never hosted a Pride Night event at one of its games. We received a reply, via email, but we didn’t exactly get an answer.

“Our commitment is to make everyone feel welcome and included in Rangers baseball,” wrote John Blake, the Rangers' executive vice president for public affairs, in a statement similar to what’s been given to other inquiring media outlets. “That means in our ballpark, at every game, and in all we do – for both our fans and our employees. We deliver on that promise across our many programs to have a positive impact across our entire community.”

So, no insight was provided as to why the Rangers continue to be the lone MLB holdout on hosting a Pride-themed event. Blake did add a few bullet points to his statement that he says are “steps taken by the Rangers to create a welcoming, inclusive and supportive environment for fans and employees.

“The Rangers were a sponsor of the NAGAAA Gay Softball World Series, which took place in Dallas and Waxahachie in August 2022,” Blake noted in his statement to the Observer. “The club participated in the opening ceremonies in Dallas and worked with the local organizers and NAGAAA officials on several initiatives for the event. In 2023, the Rangers are working with local groups such as the Pegasus Slow-Pitch Softball Association on several initiatives. For the last several years, the Rangers have worked with the Resource Center in Dallas in several ways, including employee volunteering and supporting events such as the ‘Monster Mash’ Halloween party.”

According to Blake, the franchise also has an “Inclusion and Community Impact Council” and assists with anti-bullying messaging through its Texas Rangers Foundation charitable efforts. Susie Hess, the president of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, said that supporting worthy causes behind the scenes has its merits, but the fact the Rangers are the only Pride Night holdout still speaks volumes.

“It’s shocking that 20 years after the first Pride Night, the Texas Rangers are the only ones to not honor the community with a simple evening,” she said. Hess also noted the Rangers host a night for Abilene Christian University, a school more than 180 miles away. “I’m going to throw a question back to you: What is the point of closeted support to just a couple of organizations?”

Hess said the Rangers are missing out on the chance to embrace not only LGBTQ fans, but any LGBTQ family members of its own roster or employees. “Embracing Pride is simply embracing all people of the universe, period, full-stop.”
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Kelly Dearmore is the News Editor for the Observer. His work has appeared in Texas Monthly, Success, Dallas Morning News and Cowboys & Indians, among other outlets. He lives in Carrollton with his wife, kids and angelic mother-in-law.

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