- Some Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear the Pride Night outfit on Saturday, peeling off the rainbow patches.
- Bryan Ruby, the only active gay professional baseball player, called it “sad and frustrating”.
- “Discrimination and hate have a voice in baseball, and you saw it in Tampa,” Ruby told Insider.
After a handful of Tampa Bay Rays players refused to wear rainbow uniforms for Pride Night on Saturday, the only active gay player in professional baseball said “discrimination and hate have a voice in baseball and you saw it in Tampa”.
“We’ve seen a lot of teams selling rainbow merchandise and having Pride Nights, which is great, but they really have to support their players,” Bryan Ruby said of the situation in Tampa Bay, which he called “sad and frustrating”.
“We have one night at the stadium to be ourselves all year round, and that was just an indication that a lot of people still believe that we don’t belong there and that we’re not welcome and, even on Pride Night, we’re still second-class citizens,” he said.
The Rays held their 16th annual Pride Night at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Saturday.
All players received Pride Night uniforms with rainbow-colored logos, including caps with a rainbow “TB” and a rainbow on the right shirt sleeve , reported the Tampa Bay Times.
But some players, including pitchers Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks, Brooks Raley, Jeffrey Springs and Ryan Thompson, opted out of the Pride Night outfit, donning their usual hats and peeling the sunburst logo off their sleeves, the Times reported. .
Adam told reporters that the players’ decision came down to religious beliefs and not wanting to encourage the “behaviour” of LGBTQ people, the Times reported.
Ruby wondered why the stadium’s compliance officer, whose job it is to make sure players are wearing their uniforms correctly, hasn’t taken action.
“If any player categorically refused to wear number 42 on Jackie Robinson Day, I have no doubt they would be fined,” he said, adding that none of the Rays players had been sanctioned for stripping his uniforms of rainbow logos.
Ruby, a 26-year-old who has been playing ball since he was 6, came out publicly as gay during his 2021 stint on the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes, an independent team that was once affiliated with the San Francisco Giants. .
He had previously dated friends and family for five years, but said it took him so long to come out in baseball because he was never able to actively nominate someone in the Major. League Baseball and seeing someone like him.
“I was leading a double life,” he told Insider. “I was a different person at home than on the pitch.”
MLB has never had an active gay player in its 146-year history.
Ruby said he feared losing his job on his first outing, although he added that he started proudly threading rainbow laces in his cleats.
“Every day at work I was lacing my cleats and putting my cap on and I was completely in the closet, and eventually I got sick of it,” he added. “I was no longer ashamed of who I was and I was proud of who I was.”
Ruby co-founded Proud To Be In Baseball in 2021 alongside Michael Holland and Sam Culwell – two former baseball players who respectively came out as gay and bisexual while playing and who reached out to Ruby after he came out.
The nonprofit’s website says its goal is to “champion the next generation of LGBTQ people in baseball” while providing resources and building awareness.
“Nobody really speaks for LGBTQ people in baseball, and we started to,” Ruby said, adding that players — and even a few MLB teams — have expressed interest in working together to promote the inclusiveness.
Ruby said he took time away from baseball to focus on nonprofit month and Pride, but added he will be back on the field later this summer. Ruby said he hopes LGTBQ players will eventually receive broad enough support that advocacy organizations like his will be obsolete.
He said he hopes the situation in Tampa Bay doesn’t prevent other teams from wearing rainbow logos.
He added that he hopes teams will take a step further to “think more carefully about what they can actually do to support the gay baseball players that they have in their organizations who are not yet enough to comfortable revealing who they are”.
“Who you’re dating,” he said, “has nothing to do with whether you can hit a 95 mph fastball.”