By Bill Thompson
As we near the end of Pride Month, I think it’s important that we talk about some Major League Baseball players who matter. Specifically, I think it’s time we talk about every Tampa Bay Rays player who took the field on June 4 sporting a rainbow patch to show their support for the LGBTQ+ community. It may have only been for one game and it may have been a corporate decision, but they still chose to wear the patch during the game when people could visibly see their support, and that’s why these players matter.
Who you won’t see listed in this article are the Rays players who declined to wear the patch. They’ve all given their reasons and been allowed ample time to explain away their homophobia and transphobia. I’ll be blunt, their excuses don’t fly with me and I don’t feel they are worth the time of day. As a matter of fact, I feel I’ve already wasted too much time explaining why I don’t feel those specific homophobes and transphobes are worth talking about.
Back to what matters, the Rays players who did sport the rainbow patch on June 4. It’s not that they were brave, although there is a small amount of bravery involved when anyone supports LGBTQ+ causes in a professional baseball culture -- not just MLB, mind you -- that is anything but welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community. The reason I feel these players are worth mentioning is that they simply wore the rainbow patch. They had time to take a different stance, but they didn’t do that. Instead, they opted for a small gesture that may not seem like a lot but matters plenty in a country where LGBTQ+ communities and their rights are under renewed attack.
It doesn’t matter that the patch was likely thought up by a corporate marketing department or that there were likely less than altruistic reasons behind its deployment. What matters most of all is that on June 4, 2022, a large collection of players took a look at their teammates deciding to openly display their homophobia and transphobia and said, “No, that’s not who we are and that’s not what we are about.” For that reason, every one of the players listed below deserves a bit of recognition.
You’ve read plenty of stories about the Rays players who opted to not wear the rainbow patch. It’s time for the bigots to take a back seat and slink into the shadows where they belong. Instead, here are the players who made a difference that day,
Ralph Garza Jr.
Bill Thompson is a father (human/feline/canine), husband, paramedic, socialist, writer for Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research. You can follow Bill on Twitter @BillCubbieBlue.