The Yankees have rolled out more details of their LGBTQ-related initiatives for 2019, but the announcement did not change the glaring reality that the team is the only remaining one in Major League Baseball to have never scheduled a Pride night.
The Yankees somewhat caved to pressure last year and agreed to launch the Yankees-Stonewall scholarship program, which will provide $10,000 scholarships annually to five students — one in each borough — who have made an impact in the LGBTQ community. The team announced on April 9 that the applications would be reviewed on April 10 and the winners announced at an event at the Stonewall Inn in May.
The team plans to recognize the recipients ahead of a home game against the Toronto Blue Jays on June 25 as part of a pre-game ceremony featuring the city’s Department of Education, other government officials, and representatives from the Stonewall Inn. The ceremony will also “recognize the legacy of the Stonewall Uprising and WorldPride 2019,” and the team says further details about that pre-game ceremony will be divulged in the “coming months.”
But pre-game ceremonies are a common, routine occurrence at nearly every baseball game — and it would not mark the first time the Yankees have held an LGBTQ-related pre-game ceremony. The team honored the victims of the 2016 Pulse nightclub shooting ahead of a game that year and decorated home plate in rainbow colors.
The team’s announcement on April 9 came shortly after Gay City News contacted the team to inquire about any plans for a Pride night this season. Yankees spokesperson Jason Zillo, when asked if the team would be hosting a dedicated Pride night, said, “I don’t know what you mean. I guess it is semantics. You’ll call it whatever you want. I don’t know what we’re calling it but it is a celebration of the LGBT community.” Former MLB player Billy Bean, who came out as gay after he retired and currently serves as vice president and special assistant to the commissioner, could not be reached for comment.
Whether the team will scramble to schedule a dedicated Pride night in 2019 is not yet clear, but that is doubtful: the season is already underway and teams have solidified promotional schedules for the year. According to Outsports, the Miami Marlins, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers joined the Yankees as the only squads that have not announced dedicated Pride nights this season. The Los Angeles Angels, previously the only other Pride holdout alongside the Yankees, are planning to host Pride night for the first time on June 25.
The cross-town Mets have held a Pride night for the last several years and have planned another one on August 10.
The Yankees further complicated its record on LGBTQ issues on April 8 when the Staten Island Yankees, the team’s minor leagues affiliate, announced a season-long partnership with Chick-fil-A, the fast food joint that has become notorious for the anti-LGBTQ donations that the Cathy family, which founded and controls the company, has made. Chick-fil-A will provide every fan in attendance with a free chicken sandwich any time the team hits a walk-off home run this season.
In a tweet that referred to the minor league club’s “Holy Cow” mascot, Carol Bullock, executive director of the Staten Island Pride Center, “Please show Scooter he is hanging with the wrong crowd — don’t go to any SI Yankee games.”