Professional athletes from John Rocker in 2000 to John Smoltz in 2004 have made it clear that openly gay players in Major League Baseball would receive a harsh reception from some prospective teammates. The resistance of the WNBA’s New York Liberty, which many assume has a large lesbian fan base, to formally recognize their gay fans received plenty of attention and a kiss-in at one of the games.
Despite all of this, a number of baseball teams have been welcoming efforts by their gay fans in the last couple years to create gay-themed events at their ballparks. Just as it did with Jackie Robinson over 50 years ago, Major League Baseball, it seems, is leading the way in reaching out to a minority group – this time, baseball fans who happen to be gay.
In the last three years, no less than a dozen baseball teams have hosted or participated in “gay days” at one of their home games. This year will mark the most gay-themed outings at baseball stadiums in any given season. The Toronto Blue Jays hosted Pride Community Day on June 24. The Philadelphia Phillies (Aug. 9), Oakland A’s (Aug. 14), Chicago Cubs (Aug. 15) and Boston Red Sox (Aug. 16) will all have their “gay day” within a week of one another. There will also be an event for gay fans during a Mets game at Shea Stadium Sept. 13.